dental job market

Halfway through 2022, The Great Resignation has continued to plague the dental job market. 

  • Potential dental receptionist candidates are deciding to go into other industries where remote work is possible.
  • Dental assistants are in high demand, receiving multiple job offers before they are even out of school.
  • Anecdotally, we hear that hygienists are deciding they want to work fewer hours and have a better work-life balance. This is at odds with the needs of employers and patients, because there just aren’t enough dental hygienists, working full-time or part-time, to care for everyone who is seeking care. 

At DentalPost we are eager to launch this year’s annual Dental Professionals Salary Survey in mid-July and look forward to your participation. View our report of survey results from last year here: DentalPost 2022 Salary Survey Report. Soon we will know more, but here is the latest information.

Different Generations of Dental Job Seekers, Different Motivations & Behaviors

From employment surveys across the nation, we learned in June that different generations are behaving differently.

Dental Job Seekers of Generation X, Y, and Z

  • 60% of Generation Z (our youngest workers) are actively looking at job opportunities. Their lead motivators are career growth opportunities and guidance. Over 40% rate mentorships as extremely important. Gen Z workers are looking for a place where they are valued—a place that wants them, a place where they feel they belong and will grow. 
  • 50% of Millennials (Gen Y, currently ages 26 to 41) are actively looking at job opportunities. Their drivers are fair pay, purposeful work, and more benefits.
  • 33% of Generation X (currently ages 42 to 57) are actively looking at and may be applying for a new job. These mature workers like to work independently. Many have entrepreneurial aspirations. Currently, they are concerned about their retirement savings being sufficient, and they are re-evaluating when they will retire.

The pandemic financially squeezed many of them over the last three years and now they worry about their debt. If their income is not on a par with their level of experience in their geographic area, they are restless to find better income–BUT on the balancing side is their powerful desire for work-life balance and to keep their family life on an even keel.

Leveling up their pay and appreciating them more is the general recommendation. 

Dental Job Seekers of the Boomer Generation

  • Boomers (currently ages 58 to 76) are hardworking and motivated by the three P’s: position, perks, and prestige. Like Gen X, they are concerned about their retirement savings being sufficient, and many are extending their careers well into their 60s and 70s.
  • Less than 30% of Boomers are actively looking at job opportunities. They continue to want responsibility and visibility as one of their organization’s leaders. What’s attractive to them is a senior-friendly workplace with high respect that enables them to work independently, lead projects, and mentor others. The ability to do this is most likely if they stay “in place” and do not change employers. In addition, they know their long-term loyalty and expertise are likely to be appreciated when they have a special need for flexibility or to work fewer hours.

It’s Time to Buckle Down on What Matters Most to Dental Employees

In the U.S., surveys indicate that half of the employees (in all industries) with tenures of three months or less are looking to leave. Nearly 60% of employees with three-to-six-month tenures are trying to do the same. Whoa! They are not happy with their NEW work environments.

DentalPost’s February 2022 Job Satisfaction Survey Report highlighted a universal workplace problem that was not generation-specific. When asked their top dissatisfiers, over 40% of respondents (across all generations) said they wanted to experience more appreciation for what they do. Feeling a lack of appreciation was enough incentive to actively job search.

According to a McKinsey global survey of more than 1,000 executives, managers, and employees (2009), there are three types of appreciation that have more impact on motivation, employee retention, and performance than monetary incentives. These three are:

  1. Attention from a leader
  2. Praise from an immediate manager
  3. Opportunities to head a project

Because dentists are regularly at the receiving end of appreciation from patients, they and others who lead teams are more likely to have their personal needs met and be oblivious to the needs of those they supervise. Management experts and psychologists recommend we proactively and consistently deliver respect to all employees.

Step 1: Understand the Two Types of Respect For Productive Dental Work Environments

Owed respect is respect that is given to all people who work within an organization. All members of a team are treated with courtesy in an atmosphere that values every team member. For example, if you offer to help employees understand training materials and do not treat their questions as uncomfortable interruptions, you are affording them owed respect. When you include all team members in team meetings and allow them a voice, you are operationalizing a culture of owed respect. Owed respect addresses the human need for inclusion.

Earned respect is respect that is specific to each employee, distinguishing employees who have reached a higher level of training or expertise, reliably made goals, exceeded expectations, solved problems, made a positive impact on the work and lives of others, or are fully utilizing their strengths and skills. When a supervisor delivers earned respect, the action rewards and encourages excellent work. Earned respect meets the human need of being valued. Earned respect is not always monetary in nature. Often it is one-on-one feedback and praise for small victories and opportunities to lead on projects.

Studies show that the most productive work environments are those in which both owned and earned respect are high, where achievements are celebrated, and where interdependent teamwork is valued. Remember Gen Z craves mentorship. The gift of our time is another type of respect we need to pay, especially to our youngest workers.

Step 2: Regularly Deliver Respect & Appreciation to Dental Employees

Every employee should feel that her or his dignity is recognized and respected. This is especially important for lower-level workers. Seek their opinions, listen to them carefully, and fairly considered them. All employees have the need to feel their efforts and thoughts make a difference.

Behaviors that convey owed respect are active listening and valuing diverse backgrounds and ideas, delegating tasks, and then trusting them to be done without over-monitoring, empowering employees to pursue creative ideas, taking an interest in their personal lives, and backing employees in critical situations.

Earned respect is an important feedback mechanism and catalyst for employees to grow professionally. As managers, we should regularly recognize, praise, and celebrate deserving achievements. Additionally, we should offer growing employees more opportunities to do more and provide leadership

We also need to strike a balance in praising employees in the absence and presence of others. Behavioral experts caution us that if we offer praise only in the presence or absence of others, particularly in the absence of senior leaders, our words may not be viewed as sincere. We also need to guard against paying undeserved earned respect because it won’t be perceived as genuine. 

Public displays of praise and celebration on social media have become commonplace and highly accepted. Done thoughtfully, the results can be quite positive.

When dental practice leaders deliver authentic respect, the practice often mimics their leadership. A cascade of respect from the top down, without shortchanging anyone, creates a work environment in which all employees feel safe, thrive, and support one another to exceed expectations. 

Respect, Appreciation & Gratitude Generate Loyalty and Employee Engagement

During The Great Resignation and beyond, workers will always thrive in an environment of respect and appreciation. Our employees want to feel empowered to develop into the best versions of themselves. Falling into both the owed and earned respect categories is gratitude. Consistently showing your gratitude engenders feelings of belonging and that you value them. 

At every level of an organization, those who manage employees profit by delivering respect and appreciation for every individual they supervise. This delivery can be as simple as communicating and listening in appreciative ways, being genuinely present, and affirming others’ value to the organization. Our employees’ engagement, productivity, innovation, creativity, personal well-being, and retention depend on this investment. 

A Great Workplace Also Attracts Dental Job Seekers!

A thriving workplace environment does more than retain employees. Patients notice positive workplace environments, and that practice distinguisher becomes part of your reputation. Additionally, employees rave about their workplace, and it ripples among dental workers outside your organization. It makes your dental practice attractive to job seekers. It’s never too soon or too late to be that person everyone wants to work for.

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