May 3, 2022

35% of Dental Practice Owners Struggle to Fill Vacant Positions – Here are Ideas to Keep Your Team Together and Happy

Susan Nevenhoven, Client Advisor

The dental industry, like many sectors of the American economy right now, is facing a severe workforce shortage. A poll conducted by the ADA Health Policy Institute found that 35.8% of dental practice owners are recruiting dental professionals to fill vacant positions. To make matters worse, more than 80% of dentists trying to hire staff report finding the recruitment of qualified candidates to be extremely or very challenging. Even dentists who had prided themselves on having little or no turnover find themselves in fierce competition to fill positions.

Some dentists have opted to increase salaries in the hopes of attracting qualified candidates. Others have been forced to see fewer patients because reduced staffing has slowed operations. Neither option is good news for practice revenues.

The best scenario is to keep your team together and avoid the time and money required to compete for qualified candidates. The obvious strategy for retaining staff is to raise salaries, but not every practice owner can afford to do that. Here are some other ideas for how you can create an office environment that dental professionals won’t want to leave.

Creative Compensation

Dentists can be generous to a fault and end up paying salaries they can’t really afford, but when it comes to compensation, there are other options that can be just as appealing to your employees.

Payroll Bonus – Provide a monetary reward for actions that increase practice revenue. For instance, set a goal for collections that’s 5% higher than last year. Tell your team if the practice hits that goal, a pre-established percentage will be bonused out. You’ll need to run the numbers to figure out what makes sense for your practice, but the intent should be to provide a strong incentive that will motivate employees and feel like a real reward. Since the practice is benefitting, you can afford to be generous.

Non- monetary Bonus – You can do the exact same thing only instead of paying out payroll bonuses, the reward can be treating the team to something special such as a trip to the spa, shopping, or even travelling somewhere.

Boost Benefits

People want jobs with benefits, including retirement, health insurance, paid vacation and paid holidays. If you don’t currently offer a benefits plan, it’s time to consider one. If you have one that’s limited, think about expanding.

Recognize and Support Potential

Notice what your employees are good at and what they’re interested in, then look for ways to support them. Tailoring responsibilities to align with an employee’s interest promotes greater job satisfaction and could motivate an employee to stay. If your dental assistant is interested in becoming a hygienist – maybe you could offer tuition assistance. If you discover a team member  is really good at something – such as posting on social media, or operating the CEREC machine, consider giving them an opportunity to interact with patients through Facebook or have them train the team on the Cerec The point is, have an open mind as you look for talent and try to nurture it.

Keep It Positive

Because the easiest things to do can be the easiest to overlook, ask yourself what you can do today to create a positive work environment. Maybe it’s recognizing an accomplishment, celebrating a birthday, or planning a team-building activity that’s fun and instructive. Little things count. A smile and a kind word can go a long way towards creating greater employee satisfaction.

You can do everything right and still have employees leave, but these actions will help create the kind of practice where employees want to work. You can never go wrong by showing your staff how much you value them. If you’d like to talk about how to deal with the unexpected challenges your practice may be facing, and how you can implement some of these creative compensation suggestions, contact Engage Advisors. We’re ready to help you build a dental practice that thrives.