The Importance of Retaining Employees at Your Dental Practice

by Jennifer Hawley

Employee turnover can cost as much as 200% of the annual salary of a departing staff member, reports BDCCanada, yet approximately 49% of Canadians are “seriously considering leaving” their current place of employment. According to the 11th annual Hays Salary Guide, the highest rates of workers who are thinking of leaving their current job are located in Quebec (54%), followed by Ontario (52%), then Alberta (45%), and British Columbia (41%). The reasons are manifold and include staff’s dreams of having their own clinic, work stress, and musculoskeletal problems. Many employees feel like they have not been sufficiently looked after in areas like social interaction, isolation, and increasing workloads. What steps can you take to keep your talented staff with you in the long term and why is it worth making a great effort to do so?

Employee Retention Matters in the Dental Sector

Keeping staff loyal to your dental clinic can benefit you in many ways. Constant recruiting and training costs time and money, frequent staff changes can affect customer service, and negative reports from past staff can affect your image. On the contrary, when you have a longstanding staff, human resources costs go down, customer loyalty increases as staff becomes highly experienced and builds strong relationships with clients, and your staff grows in expertise. In the dental sector employee retention is particularly important because clients can feel anxious about visiting staff whose skills or experience they have not personally tried and tested.

Boosting Associate Engagement

It is logical that new dentists you take in should dream of one day owning their own clinic and working for profits, not just a salary. This is where associate engagement comes in—giving your staff a clear picture of the increasingly important role they can play in your business (and of their chance of earning ownership in the business over time). Forming part of a seasoned partnership can ultimately be more lucrative than starting fresh and the chance to earn equity in your clinic can significantly reduce the costs of setting up a dental clinic from scratch. As new staff members make their way up to associate status, make sure they feel rewarded and appreciated. Praise, bonuses, and raises can help them feel like they are in a clinic that offers them optimal financial opportunities.

Exercising Good Leadership Qualities

As an experienced dentist, it can be tempting to ‘micromanage’ the way new recruits do their job. While regular meetings, discussion of complex techniques and procedures, and useful advice can help boost a new dentist’s self-confidence, micro-management can (and often does) have the opposite effect. A 2015 Gallup study showed that a majority of people leave their job because of their superiors. Let staff see you as a mentor that believes in their ability rather than as someone who is excessively picky or who is over-critical. When giving feedback, focus on the big picture and choose the situations that merit negative feedback wisely. Delivery is also important. Corrections can be given a positive, advisory spin rather than a critical one.

Offering Opportunities for Continual Training

The dental sector is arguably one in which continual training is not only advisable but actually key to survival—considering the plethora of new techniques and equipment that arise on an almost yearly basis. Of course, training involves more than improving the quality of service for clients; it is also about keeping staff motivated, fostering a growth mindset, and providing staff with a sense of ownership. It enables staff to increase their value as they become increasingly specialized in one field or knowledgeable of new procedures, techniques, and equipment. It can also help managers reduce the need to find staff with updated knowledge in an array of expertise ranging from bone augmentation to orthodontics.

Keeping staff loyal enables you to create a united, happy, unified team that treats your clinic as if it were their own. Offering continuous training, bonuses, and raises is one way to motivate staff. However, in the long term, giving them equity in your business is the ultimate way for them to know that they are truly part of your clinic.

About the Author

Jennifer Hawley is an occupational health therapist turned freelance writer. She has a passion for digital and health related topics and loves exploring and commenting upon the latest research. When not working, she loves to visit family in Europe, enjoys horse riding with her children and reading as much as possible.