4-tips-to-reengage-and-retain-your-dental-team

Disconnects can occur even in great cultures. Dental employees who were once highly engaged can lose their interest and enthusiasm. For example, a disconnect (gap) between an employee’s new sense of purpose and the organization’s espoused values can appear. Disengagement can occur when other team members’ behaviors do not match the espoused values and priorities of the organization. 

Here’s an example. A “great” employee finds the mission meaningful, shares the espoused values, and is on board with the systems in place, but someone on the team is undermining morale. The great employee has watched management ignore the situation and has decided she no longer wants to work in a “toxic” environment. She also views her employer/manager as failing to live out the organization’s values in this situation.

What can you do to ensure this very common example doesn’t happen in your dental practice?

Find and Fill Gaps in Your Workplace Culture

Too often, dental practices are not holding all their employees accountable for following the established culture and letting toxicity run rampant. In our blog, 11 Actions to Build a Better Dental Practice Culture, we provide 2 main ways to prevent this: rewarding desired behavior and getting to the bottom of why the undesired behavior is happening before letting them go. If an employee continues to be resistant no matter what you try, sometimes it’s better to let them go before a great employee leaves because of them.

So, when an employee leaves, it should be a wake-up call to look for gaps in your culture. On heightened alert, we should be eager to learn about issues that are within our influence and control. DentalPost recently published advice to help employers in these situations: What to Do When Your Dental Team Member Quits

In an exit interview, a genuinely great employee will be respectful of your desire to understand why they made their choice and will be willing to talk about what they have experienced with you and what they hope to experience differently at their next job. After the exit interview, do not waste any time before conducting “stay interviews” with your other team members. DentalPost has also published an article about this: Is Your Practice Doing Stay Interviews?

Common Gaps in Dental Practice Cultures

DentalPost survey data informs us that there are significant gaps in many dental practice cultures. Dental employers are not taking time on a regular basis to check in with their employees. 

Many employees are not receiving sufficient feedback to know:

  • They are highly valued,
  • They are meeting or exceeding expectations, 
  • Their higher efforts are recognized, and 
  • Their efforts make a difference. 

Note: “Making a difference” is far broader than making a difference to the practice’s bottom line. Employees find meaning in their work (purpose) when that work makes a positive difference in other people’s lives. Employees are more engaged in their work when their ideas are welcomed, respected, and sometimes implemented.

4 Tips to Step Up Dental Employee Engagement

1. Communicate more.

Establish frequent feedback and eye-to-eye conversation about employees’ contributions to the practice, including its people. Know what is important to each employee, and regularly ask how you can support them best.

2. Create practice missionaries (brand ambassadors).

Teams that talk about their mission and share examples of success affirm that they are making a difference in the world. Purpose and passion are fed by knowing they are transforming health and lives. 

3. Be creative in offering additional benefits to meet various Dental employee desires.

For example:

  • Promote professional development by providing an annual CE allowance. 
  • Initiate a profit-sharing/bonus program. 
  • Schedule a block of time for a monthly catered “lunch and learn.” Create opportunities to discuss patient cases and explore how to collaborate more for case acceptance and a wonderful patient experience.

4. Keep an open mind when employees suggest a change.

The pandemic and now “The Great Exploration” have stirred the pot, and one or more of your team members may have redefined their priorities and purpose. If an employee asks for their role, hours, or duties to be changed to accommodate new priorities… or if they ask to take on a new project, seriously consider the possibilities they suggest. The change could generate new enthusiasm and energy for the good of all.

Why Dental Employee Engagement Matters

Focusing on (re)engaging our dental team members can increase profitability, revenue, and customer experience while reducing turnover. This is because engaged employees perform better due to their renewed enthusiasm and dedication to your practice. They care more about their work, which increases positive word of mouth and online reviews from your patients. In a time where practice profits are reducing, and it is harder than ever to find good dental talent, employee engagement is what will differentiate your dental practice from the rest.

For further reading about re-engaging and retaining your dental team members:

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