Did you expect staffing issues to ease up after the general rebound from the pandemic? Despite all the theories as to why and what can be done to improve this drag on small business owners, there's clearly no simple or obvious fix. So, what do we know about where things currently stand, and what's is within our power to change?
Staffing Challenges Seem Here to Stay
The Great Resignation has morphed into what CNBC is calling "the big quit," with nearly 70% of Gen Z and millennials planning to leave their jobs in 2023. Dental practices of all sizes and types experience the squeeze more than most other businesses. That’s because of the considerable training required for many dental jobs, not to mention the increased and unique stress on the profession following the pandemic.
According to the ADA, dentists have been relying heavily on online recruitment and word of mouth to bring new employees into their offices. Fewer are turning to local hygiene and assisting programs, and about 1 in 4 are using staffing agencies or recruiters.
Dental practices can win the talent war—if you move quickly and think outside the box. Here are 25 strategies to help you successfully navigate through today’s challenging employment environment.
#1: Always Be Hiring
Hire extra people when you find them. If they’re promising, don’t let them get away, even if they need training.
#2: Make Applicants Say “Yes”
Structure your offer to give applicants a reason to immediately say ‘yes’ versus going back to their current employer with more bargaining chips for a raise.
#3 Deliver Instant Gratification
Do it in the form of a hiring bonus (perhaps split into two payments, one at start and the balance paid after six months).
#4: Think Broadly
Overlook appearances that might have eliminated candidates in the past (i.e. tattoos, piercings). Take advantage of other employers who lose out on hiring smart, capable people due to outdated attitudes.
#5: Keep Moving
Move applicants through the process faster. Do your best to reduce delays between phone and in-person interviews. Ensure quick turnaround between all stages.
#6: Look at What’s Right in Front of You
Mine your patient base to identify potential applicants. Make every friendly interaction during visits a chance to uncover great candidates. For example, wouldn’t it be great to hire a former executive assistant at your front desk temporarily while that person is searching for a permanent position? Or how about an ex-corporate star who wants to work part time and spend more time with kids and family?
#7: Ask Around
Solicit candidate referrals from key suppliers (distributors, labs, etc.). Even though the market is tight, there’s still a network of personal referrals out there. It's always flattering when a potential employer reaches out to you.
#8 Get Out in the Community (early and often!)
Actively recruit at local community colleges or even middle/high schools (with a long-term plan of introducing the idea of a career in dentistry). Recruiting could be done by doctors, office managers, or even a full-/part-time recruiter as part of your normal community outreach strategy. Even if you don’t win them as job applicants, you might gain new patients.
#9 Rethink Vaccination Policies
If other local businesses/ health care institutions still require vaccinations, hire their employees (especially nurses) who object and/or have lost their jobs.
#10 Accept that Experience is Overrated
Don’t wait for experienced applicants…hire inexperienced people and train them. (More & more online training programs are available for dental office positions than ever before. New employees don't have to learn everything directly from you or have to shadow you all day.)
#11 Make Training a Constant
Build an in-office training program where team members lead the training, and ensure training happens regularly.
#12 Don’t Just Train, Cross Train
For example, train front office people on taking x-rays (including certification) so that they can job share. Some employees prefer trading duties to relieve repetition and increase job satisfaction. Plus, when you cross train more employees, there’s less stress filling gaps when people resign.
#13 Don’t Guess
Benchmark your pay and benefits. Ensure you’re paying enough to attract the right talent.
#14 Pay Employees with Knowledge
Add CE for hygienists as a paid benefit if you don't offer it already.
#15 Build the Perfect Team Member
Think about creative benefits (i.e. visits by a massage therapist, student loan repayment, gym memberships, etc.). Not only can these benefits boost recruitment, but it may also help provide the precise personal and professional development resources you want for team members once they’re on board.
#16 Eliminate Travel Barriers
For employees who need to travel longer distances (i.e. from a rural community to larger city or vice versa), offer travel expenses and/or provide company vehicles. This way, you’re eliminating their objections while precisely controlling your own contribution to travel reimbursements.
#17 Award Scholarships
Offer hygiene scholarships to potential employees, perhaps in the form of forgivable loans for dental assistants who wish to attend hygiene school.
#18 Get Your Motor Running
Tune up your morning huddle: the best (and least expensive) process to build an open, respectful, productive office.
#19 Be Culturally Aware
Invest time and energy in creating the right culture, starting with the doctors. Make work satisfying, challenging, and fun.
#20 Make Sure Money Isn’t Everything
Remember that culture is your most powerful hiring tool. Be flexible about hiring, but don’t hire the wrong person, even if it’s quicker! Likewise, remember that a superior culture could win out over a comparable salary offer.
#21 Reinvent Roles
Add tele-dentistry, expanded functions, etc. Create appealing roles for today’s applicants and help retain current A-players by accommodating their career growth and development as long as it also serves the practice.
#22 Offer an Assistant
Add hygiene assistants to improve the hygiene team’s efficiency.
#23 Conduct More Employee Reviews
Don’t wait for employees to resign and then conduct exit interviews. Instead, schedule informal conversations to find out what they love...what they dislike...how they view their roles and careers developing within the organization...and exactly what might make them search for new employment—or simply quit.
#24 Incentivize “A” Players
Use creative perks and bonuses that demonstrate you’re investing in their satisfaction.
#25 Pay Promptly
Pay bonuses and rewards immediately. Don’t make employees wait. As soon as they achieve a goal, reward them ASAP.
Adapted from the Benco Dental white paper, "Powerful Strategies for Solving Dental Staffing Challenges." Visit Benco Dental U to browse the complete library of white papers, webinars and articles.
BENCO DENTAL IS THE LEADER in cutting-edge dental practice theory, consulting, systems and design. They drive dentistry forward through their innovative solutions and caring family culture. The company is also the country’s largest independent distributor of technology, equipment and supplies with 1,400 associates across the U.S.