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Much is expected of dental professionals today. The solitary nature of the clinical work itself and the long hours make for easy burnout even in the most supportive dental offices. And these demands aren’t just limited to hard skills, such as their clinical training and physical stamina, but also extend to soft skills, like their capacity for emotional intelligence, empathy and collaboration. But, the expectations go both ways. Or they should anyway. The saying, “To whom much is given, much is expected,” is certainly applicable here. Dental professionals deserve that same level of commitment and support from their employers that they give. 

The world has shifted and we now face a new definition of success. While job title and salary are very important, so is doing purpose-driven work, being mentally healthy, and having quality of life and some sense of work/life balance. The dental practices that understand this not only keep the good team members they have, but they also attract the best new people. So what is it that practices can do to meet these expectations and support their team member’s overall success?

What Practices Should Do To Support Their Team Members in 2021:

1. Continuous education and professional development

Educating oneself for a job in dentistry is a long and demanding process, and it does not stop after securing a job. Technological advancements happen at incredible speed, thus, continuing education is crucial. Dental professionals should always strive to be on top of their game for their patients, as well as their careers. And dental employers should invest in and support their efforts to do so. 

A continuing education plan benefits both dental professionals and their employers. The primary outcome is a sense of purpose and a renewed passion for dentistry. What’s more, the practice can provide higher quality services and boost their professional image.

Dental professionals look to their employers for a cohesive career development plan. Staying abreast of the industry includes keeping up with trends, new technologies, and treatment options as well as focuses on the dental professionals’ specific needs. Industry events and online education opportunities also support a sense of belonging and purpose.

2. Investments in ergonomy and modern technology

Dental practices work hard to promote and support the well-being of their patients. It is only fair that dental professionals enjoy the same attention. Prioritizing the needs of frontline staff ensures positive results throughout the practice.

Scaling, planing, and cleaning teeth for 8 hours a day (in extra PPE no less) from a fixed posture is physically taxing and, if not taken care of, can lead to long-term health issues. Posture and circulatory disorders are just some of the risks faced by dental practitioners. Investing in your team member’s physical well-being is in everyone’s best interest. Research suggests that physical comfort has benefits beyond the prevention of physical problems. Ergonomy improves workflow, ensures seamless technology integration, and increases productivity. Furniture ergonomy is an excellent place to start, but it should not stop there. Adding calming colors, airy and light-filled rooms, and a good playlist can work wonders for the mood. Funds should also go toward high-end technologies that can streamline work. The patient will notice and benefit from these additions as well.

3. An agile workplace, free of bureaucratic hassle

Time is of the essence in preventive oral care, as well as in day-to-day workflow management. Tedious, repetitive tasks with little visible added value can lower team morale.  First-line employees are the first to suffer and feel demotivated. 

Dental professionals want their schedules free of administrative burden. Management can use innovative tools and practices that can help streamline employee administration. A smoother process puts the employees at the center of a dental practice. A transparent and compliant workplace makes them feel valued and empowered.

The technology era is upon us, and dental workers deserve to reap the benefits. Agile shift management and internal communication can save valuable time and energy. These resources can generate long-term value if invested.

4. Personal support network

Much of the stress in dentistry comes from the dental professionals’ delicate position. Dealing with patient anxiety is a complicated task; perfectionism and high professional standards add to that. The pressures from personal lives further complicate work-life balance.

Dental practice managers need to promote a work environment conducive to prioritizing mental health. On good days, this can mean strengthening the team. One of the ways to do that is treating your employees as partners. On more challenging days, it can mean showing vulnerability and transparency. Open conversations where practice leaders champion and promote personal well-being activities support the success of the business.

5. Digital enhancements for patient interaction

Growing and maintaining consistent patient schedules is a shared responsibility and one that often lands squarely on the shoulders of the dental team member. Rebooking is made easier with current, modern technology and a solid digital presence. A dental practice’s online presence is now more critical than ever. So, well-maintained social media profiles can help build credibility and trust. Email and push notifications can improve communication with patients. Additionally, a solid online system for appointments can help keep clients close and content.

Apps and smart devices provide a practical way of delivering information. Education is key to teaching young generations the importance of preventive oral care. Bite-size and accessible “edutainment” for dental care will build both trust and the business.

Changes to workforce expectations

Today’s hiring negotiations happen on an equal footing. Monetary considerations are still important. But flexibility, a supportive working environment, and free time are also becoming more important. The employee is as much a partner as they are an individual with complex needs and aspirations. Technology and deep human connection can sustain a thriving work environment. A sustainable vision starts with changing the narrative.


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We connect and educate more than 850,000 job seekers in the U.S. and Canada to build better places to work through teams that excel.

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