How Can a Rewards Program Help Fill Open Shifts While Saving Money?

Offering incentives to encourage staff to pick up certain hard-to-fill shifts is not a new strategy. However, traditional monetary incentives can be costly and eventually be counter-productive as staff hold out for higher and higher incentives.

Instead, a rewards program can provide cost-effective recognition to engage employees and drive desired behaviors. In fact, we’re now seeing incentive programs taken to a whole new level in healthcare to boost productivity, foster teamwork and improve work habits.

Here are some frequently asked questions to provide with some insight into how and why a rewards program can be successful.

Q: Why have a rewards program?

A rewards program can:

  • Provide a cost-effective alternative to contingent labor by leveraging internal staff
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Help attract and retain qualified staff
  • Motivate staff to take hard-to-fill shifts
  • Encourage desired behaviors, such as perfect attendance, excellent service, committee work

Q: How does a rewards program work?

API Healthcare’s ShiftRewards is one example of a non-monetary rewards program. It is a unique, points-based rewards & recognition program that awards points to employees based on actions and behaviors that the client has defined. For example, employees can be rewarded 1000 points for picking up an extra open shift.

Points are accumulated and redeemed for items such as gift cards, iPads, jewelry and other rewards. An embedded online catalog offers over 3,000 redemption options.  In addition, valuable but free redemption options can be offered, such as a premium parking place or picking your dream schedule for the next month.

Q: Besides picking up open shifts, what are some other ways that staff can earn points?

One of the advantages of a reward system is the flexibility and the opportunity to cost-effectively encourage desired behaviors. Staff can earn additional points for things such as volunteering, serving as a preceptor, perfect attendance, leadership awards, meeting accountability standards, obtaining advanced certification and receiving recognition from patients and families.

Q: What are some of the pitfalls of monetary incentives?

Monetary incentives are more of a satisfier than a motivator. The perceived value of monetary incentives diminishes over time and then becomes expected. The feeling of being rewarded is quickly forgotten as the money disappears into the family budget.

Over time, monetary rewards can also create a “hold-out” effect, with staff waiting for the incentive to grow larger as the shift continues to go unfilled and the need for someone to pick it up becomes more urgent.

As the need to increase the value of the rewards continues to grow, a monetary incentives program can quickly become cost-prohibitive.

Q: What are the benefits of a rewards program vs. a monetary incentives program?

Non-monetary rewards offer the following benefits:

  • Increased perceived value
  • Trophy value increases link between award and employer
  • Boosts engagement & retention efforts
  • More cost-effective than monetary incentives
  • Viewed as a luxury rather than just disappearing into the family budget
  • More tangible than incentive dollars
  • Creates a feeling of ‘gamification’ as staff work toward a reward
  • Redeemed for indulgences seen otherwise as not justifiable

Q: What is the dollar value of the points?

Each client can determine what the value of a point will be. However, to provide a frame of reference, many clients provide reward points valued at about $0.50-$1.00 per hour, which equates to about $4-$12 per shift.

Q: People are smart. Why would they give up premium pay for less valuable points?

Organizations are looking for a way to get rid of shift bonuses, and a non-monetary rewards program is a way to meet in the middle. Or, a rewards program could be used in combination with strategically placed shift incentives.

Q: Is there a tax benefit?

There is not a tax benefit. Even if the reward is non-monetary such as a gift card or merchandise, it is compensatory and therefore taxable. Employers need to track redemptions and tax based on redemptions.

To learn more about API Healthcare’s ShiftRewards program, check out the 20-minute webinar, “Collaborative Staffing: Driving Performance with Rewards & Recognition.

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