dental staff engagement

Fulfilled employees don’t want to leave.

Saurav Atri, Gallup

In today’s challenging recruitment landscape, employee fulfillment and well-being should be at the top of the priority list for dental employers and management teams looking to retain their existing teams and attract new talent. 

Let’s look at some best practices dental leaders can implement to increase workplace engagement, keep staff happy, and improve their odds of attracting the right hires.

Top Recruitment Challenges

Record-high numbers of Americans quit their jobs during the global pandemic and are yet to return to the corporate workforce. The “Great Resignation” has placed employees across all sectors under immense pressure to carry expanded workloads. 

According to an HR.com State of Employee Well-Being 2022 Survey, employees are battling mental-health-related issues such as anxiety, negative emotional stress, and depression. Poor work-life balance is another top stressor, as well as financial struggles from disrupted work schedules and ensuing layoffs during the pandemic. 

The survey’s findings showed that employees are still concerned about workplace safety and reluctant to return to the office, while those who can work remotely struggle to maintain healthy virtual relationships with work colleagues. 

So what can dental employers do about it?

Employees Need to Feel Fulfilled and Engaged 

Gallup Regional Leadership Coach Saurav Atri highlighted that employers and managers need to identify new and better ways of inspiring employee performance in these turbulent times. 

Engagement is the best medicine you have for retaining people,” Atri shared in a Gallup Called to Coach webcast. 

According to Atri, today’s workforce wants to feel more fulfilled at work. “Fulfilled employees don’t want to leave,” Atri highlighted. “Understanding the needs of your employees is a key to your effectiveness as a leader or as a manager right now,” he added.

Dental practice leaders and managers can help their staff grow and thrive in their roles by better understanding the mix of personalities on their teams and being more attentive to what makes each employee ‘tick.’ 

3 Ways to Grow Dental Staff Engagement 

1. Help Dental Employees Play to Their Strengths

Our personalities, strengths, and priorities largely influence how we approach our relationships and work. Atri states employees have different engagement needs based on their core skills, aptitudes, traits, and values. 

How Different Personality Traits Impact Work Engagement
  • Some individuals are more decisive and competitive than others and do well in leadership roles where they are needed to make quick decisions or take risks. However, if these team members don’t feel their choices are respected and trusted or get an opportunity to “flex” these strengths, they may become dissatisfied and consider moving on.
  • We likely all know one colleague whose innate people skills and fun, positive energy easily motivates those around them. These types of employees can organize staff engagement events or reach out to other team members to check on their wellbeing.
  • Some employees do well with handling conflict and can approach heated or tense situations calmly and logically. Use them to mediate conversations with team members who aren’t seeing eye to eye.
  • Other team members are passionate about creating safe, stable, and predictable work environments and will do anything to avoid confrontation. They’ll offer attentive patient care and excel at responsibilities involving careful planning and scheduling.

Knowing your dental team’s unique combination of personality styles can help you tailor opportunities to help employees feel more valuable and engaged in the workplace. It can also help you work on improving team communication. 

DentalPost Tools for Increased Employee Engagement

DISC Personality Assessment

DentalPost’s free DISC Personality Assessment is a great tool you can leverage to discover your team’s core personality types. Use this knowledge to increase your team’s engagement, resolve conflict, and boost productivity.

Meet Anna Smith

The DISC assessment example below shows that Anna Smith (a fictional character) is a Motivator; this means she:

  • Craves stimulation and loves forming strategic alliances with her team that help them achieve their goals. 
  • Needs a less structured working environment to help her innovate.
  • Benefits from the support of her more detailed-oriented colleagues to help plot the best course of action.


Core Values Assessment 

According to our 2022 DentalPost Job Satisfaction poll, dental employees appreciate it when a dental practice’s mission is clear and aligns with core values and ethics. Another freebie, our Core Values Assessment, can help you define your office or organization values and understand the office culture your practice staff needs. 

Meet Midtown Dental

Below, we can see that the dental leaders at Midtown Dental (a fictional practice) value community, connection, innovation, excellence, meaningful work, and making a difference. Employees with similar values will be encouraged to join and stay at this practice, knowing their values are aligned. They can anticipate the opportunity to help co-create a positive office culture that reflects and supports these stated values.

2. Offer Increased Flex-Time

The pandemic has shifted employee priorities considerably. The global workforce wants work that fits their lives and is no longer interested in job schedules dictating their priorities. (Yes, they want their cake, and they want to eat it too.) Implementing and managing flexible work options is a challenge most dental teams must learn to navigate.

According to a HealthIt article, job flexibility comes in many forms, including flexibility in location, scheduling, and work hours. In addition, hybrid work models can also be used to address work-life balance needs. 

Our 2022 DentalPost Job Satisfaction poll showed that 55% of registered dental hygienists and 64% of dental assistants have no control over their appointment scheduling. Would greater influence over their schedules help them feel more empowered and engaged?  

Location flexibility through telehealth consults isn’t necessarily possible for client-facing dental staff. However, a hybrid work schedule and work hour flexibility are both options worth exploring. They may help increase employee engagement and job satisfaction. 

3. Identify Opportunities for Growth

Dental professionals love using their skills at work and want to have some influence in improving operations. They are looking for work environments where they can emotionally and mentally thrive and where their supervisor encourages their development. 

According to the 2022 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey, career and professional development benefits ranked very high among U.S. employees. The HR.com State of Employee Well-Being 2022 Survey revealed a “lack of career growth opportunities” as one of the most common stressors for employees today. 

Does your practice support staff with their continuing education and career development plans? 

Continuing education tuition reimbursement or paid conference attendance are just two benefits you can offer your dental staff. These benefits help reduce their stress about their professional growth.

A Spoonful of Engagement is Now Best Medicine

Your effectiveness as a leader or manager will depend on your understanding of your employees’ needs. Then, you can find effective ways to help them grow, thrive, and re-engage with their work. This is not an easy process. However, practice owners across the U.S. are learning to address and implement the necessary changes.

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