It’s no secret that many dental practices are challenged with staffing issues. According to data from the State of the Dental Economy - Q3 2022 Update webinar hosted by the ADA's Health Policy Institute (HPI), the latest recruitment numbers indicate that more than a third of practices polled are currently recruiting for a hygienist or assistant and that the number of jobs in dental offices was at an all-time high, with a change of +4.8% from prepandemic levels.
Dental practices face the task of keeping their staff happy AND effective, no easy feat in today’s environment. The battle for talent has turned fierce as staff members consider greater compensation and enticing perks from competitive practices. With patients returning in droves, staff shortages can have an impact on the patient experience and their retention. So, how can you compete for talent? Here are four ways to make your dental practice more appealing to existing staff and prospective employees.
1. Revisit Your Dental Practice's Culture
Is your practice's culture healthy for your staff? Does it keep them motivated and help you deliver an outstanding patient experience? A leading cause of staff attrition is ineffective internal communication, so make sure that is not an issue for you. Have you created clear job descriptions for each position? Does each team member understand your job expectations and practice protocols? Do you consistently praise employees for great work and provide performance feedback? When you incorporate these things into your routine, each team member will feel like they are part of a well-run practice that cares about them.
Here are some additional steps you can take
Write and share a mission statement to let the entire team understand your vision for the practice. Document your practice’s values in order of priority such as clinical excellence, great patient communication, friendliness, etc.
Create a written structure for morning huddles, team meetings, and discussing staff concerns. The better your team understands your expectations and structure, the happier and more productive they’ll be.
Praising individuals for great work makes an impact but it is just as critical to tackle substandard performance when it is still fresh. Share your observations and clearly explain what behavior or action they need to change. All of this creates a healthy and positive culture which will help retain staff and attract talent. Certainly money is important, but a great culture may be sufficient to keep good people on your team even if they are offered greater compensation by a competitor
2. Rethink Job Postings
Avoid making your job posting so daunting that no one qualifies. Include a position summary, key responsibilities, and what you can offer to them. Remember, when competing for candidates, they’ll evaluate you as well! Feature available training, advancement opportunities, continuing education, benefits, a summary of your culture, and more. Make sure your posting is professional and warm. Write it as if it were an ad for your practice, because that’s precisely what it is!
3. Job Referrals
When an employee makes a referral, it is akin to striking gold. Let your staff know when a position becomes available and offer a referral incentive. In most cases, they’ll recommend someone they think can fit into your practice’s culture. Don’t limit your referral circle to staff. Mention your referral approach to colleagues, partners, and patients, as well as your own personal network. Write them an email describing the specific position(s) you look to fill and the required experience. The more details you can provide, the better people in your network will be able to help.4. Tout Your Practice's Tools
The software you use can have a direct impact on the attractiveness of your practice to prospective employees. If it is easy to use, you can expand your search to include candidates without dental experience. And, if the tools save them time, they’ll be able to manage all of their responsibilities efficiently and effectively.
Flex Dental offers a range of features that will make it exponentially easier to communicate with patients, and for your practice to manage previously time-consuming tasks. Integrated with Open Dental, Flex modernizes patient communications, reduces staff workload, increases treatment acceptance, boosts payment collection, and much more.
All backed by the best customer support in the industry.
In such a competitive marketplace, having a solid plan in place to attract and retain staff can make all of the difference. Start by assessing your culture, improving problem areas, and making your practice as attractive as possible both to staff and patients. Doing several seemingly small things can pay big dividends.