Dentistry is a demanding field in which providing optimal customer experiences and creating a comfortable working atmosphere for dental teams amid constant demands are key. Healthy team culture and positive work experience are something on which employees, including dental temps, are placing an increasing value. The pandemic has shifted their thinking, leading to an increased focus on work-life balance and dynamic working experiences 

Every dental office has been affected by the recent labor shortage, in one way or another. More cooperative approaches recommended considering that 80% of owner dentists found hiring hygienists or dental assistants extremely challenging, leading to more focus on securing temporary employees. What are dental staffers looking for in a new role? Surprisingly, it’s not about money.  Dental workers say they’re leaving their jobs because of leadership, policies, time constraints, and a desire for a lighter work schedule In other words… they’re looking for a better culture. 

The first and most important step for dental leaders to improve job retention within the dental industry is optimizing work culture.

What is “Culture” in a Dental Practice?

The culture of any team is the set of behavioral and mindset norms that reflect how individuals on the team think, what they prioritize, how they react to situations, and how they communicate among themselves and with clients/partners.  

The culture of a team is defined by the leadership of the team and is a reflection of the values set by that leadership.

For example, one dental office culture might be “Clinical excellence above all else”, while another might be “We care for our patients first.” while another could be “A fun and friendly place to work and visit.”  There’s no “right” culture, but it is important that the team and leadership are aligned in their views and values.

Building a Strong Team

two female healthcare professionals looking at mouth x-ray

Your dental team is at the core of everything that your dental office does. A happy team shines on your patients. Likewise, If your team members are disgruntled, patients will know it and their patient experience will reflect poorly on your practice. 

Team leaders should implement a zero-tolerance culture for bad behavior within the workplace and enforce policies centered around conducting best practices. You improve productivity and save money by introducing standards that every employee, whether dental temps or permanent employees, should adhere to. You preserve an already good culture or eliminate a bad one by consistently enforcing these standards, increasing employee accountability and promoting camaraderie. 

Leaders should work to build a positive and rewarding work experience. Leaders should try to find out the strengths and weaknesses of dental staffers, understanding what makes them comfortable and where they most need guidance. Establishing relationships takes the toxicity out of the work environment, whether by organizing team-building activities or doing simple gestures like providing free lunch for your team. 

Celebrate Wins, Learn from Losses

Close to 90% of job seekers value a healthy work culture, and many of those job seekers also want to feel consistently valued on the job. For new dental temps, hygienists, or other professionals brought into a dental team, celebrating wins and achievements means everything. It means that they’re being recognized for their hard work. Plus, dental leaders that show a willingness to learn from those wins to try and get bigger wins to boost productivity and generate newfound confidence in new employees will contribute consistently to team success, making experiences more worthwhile for dental temps and permanent employees alike. 

So, whenever your dental team sees a boost in new patients, or helps you achieve unprecedented production goals, or completes a record number of major procedures, be sure to celebrate! 

Conduct Performance Reviews

two hands holding with latex gloves

Set performance standards to create consistency,  fuel better outputs, and ensure better patient experiences. By doing performance reviews, you’re setting a standard that motivates your employees to improve their capabilities

Invest in the performance and abilities of your dental team members as much as possible. By committing to their career development, you help your team members to fully realize their capabilities. As a result, team members can leverage their capabilities to add value to their tasks. 

Leaders should assess team member performance periodically, whether quarterly, every six months, or once a year. Sit down with each employee to determine what you most noticed about each team member’s performance, letting each one know what he/she has excelled at, as well as any areas for improvement. 

Ensure the review isn’t entirely positive or negative. Be as balanced as possible, offering strong commendation for the good contributions made in the dental office while also offering fair critiques so team members can improve. Consistent evaluations reassure employees and also help dental temps feel more confident about their abilities. 

Be Approachable

Also, dental leaders should make themselves readily available and approachable. Team members will always have questions. But, if your leadership style is more authoritarian, then your work culture is bound to suffer because team members will hold in their concerns and frustrations. 

Leaders should make their dental offices communication havens; places where team members voice their concerns without judgment or reproach. Clear and open communication lines allow for employees to feel more humanized while eradicating toxic behaviours, preventing them from festering and negatively affecting the working environment. 

Remember,  It’s a Journey 

Few leaders excel at these concepts and principles right out of the gate.  That’s perfectly fine and understandable. Leadership and culture building is a process and a journey, and like dentistry – you ‘practice’ it.  So be sure to lead your team and build your culture with intent and purpose while following your values, celebrating your own leadership successes and learning from any missteps. This dedication will help you build and retain a great team which drives exceptional business success.

Dental leaders should be agile when it comes to introducing and maintaining a positive work culture that everyone can feel comfortable with. Factors will change along the way as employee comfort levels change and business demands grow. But, the main thing is for dental leaders to stick by the values they have instilled in their practices and maintain standards so that when variables change, the expectations remain the same or higher. Optimizing your work culture takes time and practice. 

Dental employees need a culture that allows them to flourish and ensures their best interests are consistently met. TempStars helps you scout temps who can effectively contribute to a growing culture. Sign up today and learn more about our trusted services!