Handling Employee Compensation

I met with John who owns a dentist office with several hygienist and a front desk staff.  In total, John has 15 employees.  John grew his business over 10 years and is loyal to his employees.  He compensates them ‘more than appropriately.’  John believes he is paying his employees about 15% more than the competition and annually gives a 3-4% pay increase, yet he still hears complaints.

John told me: “I compensate fairly, give days off, I even give gift cards and get-well cards when employees get sick.  This is more than my competition and people are still leaving while others are not motivated to work.”

When I had a 90-minute opportunity to talk with John and his leadership team, we worked through his employee engagement issue.

Employee engagement is usually a symptom of multiple root causes. My advice to John and his leadership team was:

  1. Stop focusing on what made people leave. People told you what they wanted you to hear, it’s not reliable, and it’s not productive.
  2. Focus on what makes good companies great. You will attract great people and they will seek things other than compensation.

Through this exercise, John will have the tools to have that open and honest conversation and he will have other ‘non-monetary’ forms of compensation.  He will be surrounded by people he wants to work with and, more importantly, the employees will feel the difference too.  Compensation will become a secondary discussion.


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