great boss

Ask any dental practice owner if they value and appreciate their staff, and the answer would be “yes.” The real question is whether this appreciation reaches the employees and do they feel its effects. For example, a co-worker once said, “Sometimes, it feels like I’m invisible.”

I think we can all agree that working in a dental office is an experience in and of itself. The close-knit environment, daily patient interactions, and the importance of teamwork make a well-coordinated team necessary. Because of this, there exists an underestimated tool for achieving success – employee appreciation. Let’s look into the impact of showing appreciation and how it can foster a positive, motivated, and productive work environment.

Creating a Culture of Appreciation

Acknowledging Daily Efforts

Working in a dental office can be demanding, and many tasks must be done to deliver quality care. These include things such as managing patient appointments, sterilizing equipment, and handling administrative tasks are all part of our job, but doing them day in and day out without recognition can cause resentment. It is easy to overlook the hard work and dedication of the team when it is always there. Recognizing and acknowledging these daily efforts, however, can make a huge difference. Below are two ideas to help increase recognition:

  • Celebrating milestones and achievements, such as work anniversaries, with a simple personalized note of appreciation can go much further than a cake or pizza party.
  • Regularly express gratitude for the tasks completed successfully, even if they seem routine. A simple “thank you, I appreciate you” can go a long way in boosting morale.
Encourage a Supportive Team Atmosphere

Ideal work environments must start from the top down. I understand this can be difficult since management or team leadership is not taught in school, but to provide top-notch care to patients, we must encourage teamwork by creating a supportive atmosphere.

  • Regularly highlight instances of teamwork and how the combined efforts of the staff contribute to the office’s success. A shoutout in a team meeting is a great example. 
  • Create team-building activities or outings to help employees bond and develop strong working relationships. A cohesive team is a happier and more productive team.

Benefits of Appreciation 

Increased Job Satisfaction

When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to enjoy their work and find satisfaction in their roles. As human beings, we constantly seek validation. If you are showing up daily and putting in the work expected of you but never get recognition, it may push you to seek new employment and validation elsewhere.  Job satisfaction directly correlates with improved productivity and decreased turnover rates.

Enhanced Patient Experience

Patients sense the atmosphere in a dental office, and a team that feels appreciated and supported is more likely to provide better care, improving patient satisfaction and loyalty.

Boosted Employee Morale

Positive reinforcement and appreciation significantly boost employee morale, and a happy team is more likely to approach challenges with a positive attitude, working together to find solutions. For example, when I worked in an office where mutual appreciation was the norm, where everyone willingly supported each other without needing to be asked, it made it easier to walk into work each day. There was no room for drama, no echoes of ‘that’s not my job,’ and no gossip. It was, without a doubt, a place I genuinely enjoyed, and it made me want to provide the highest level of care.

Greater Employee Retention

Showing appreciation to employees helps retain them. Running a small office is similar to marriage: Showing you care and appreciate each other will reduce turnover. Reducing turnover ensures continuity in quality patient care, keeping the business running smoothly.

Practical Ways to Show Appreciation

Dentists don’t have to go overboard to show support to their employees. Recently, I heard, “We don’t want another pizza party,” telling me that employees are looking for more. There are other practical ways to show appreciation that doesn’t involve food: 

  • Organize regular team meetings to provide feedback and recognize outstanding performances.
  • Leave a small handwritten note. Personal messages can go a long way. 
  • Implement a reward system, like ‘Employee of the Month’ programs, to acknowledge and celebrate exceptional contributions.
  • Conduct quarterly anonymous surveys. Use this information to gather feedback on the workplace and take the information you receive to make changes. 

In a small and closely-knit environment, appreciation of employees can be a game-changer. The benefits of a culture of appreciation are far-reaching, from increased job satisfaction and patient loyalty to improved team morale and retention rates. Consistent and sincere appreciation is key. It should be a part of your practice’s culture, where every team member feels recognized and valued for their contributions. Tailor your approach to the preferences and needs of your specific dental team, as not every employee will respond to the same gestures of appreciation. Show your appreciation, and watch your dental office thrive!

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