Developing Long-Term Staff Relationships

Developing Long-Term Staff Relationships

Dentists are often vulnerable to the "revolving-door syndrome," with employees coming and going too quickly to truly benefit the dentist and the practice. Although most dentists offer competitive wages, there may be limited advancement opportunities in a small office. Also, a dentist's office can be fast-paced, and not everyone is cut out for that environment.

Here are some ideas on how you can retain good employees.

Offer a Competitive Salary and Benefits

Even if you are currently competitive in the marketplace, make sure your staff's wages don't begin to lag due to inflation or changing circumstances in your community.

Stay on top of what colleagues pay their staffs, either by asking them directly or by gathering this information from your professional association or journals. Also, find out what area businesses pay for comparable staff such as receptionists, clerical workers, bookkeepers and secretaries.

Provide Career Development Opportunities

Often the best people on your staff have ambitions for their own careers. You'll be best able to retain them if you provide opportunities for further education.

Many dentists pay for job-related courses and seminars. Others promise applicants more responsibilities and pay as they develop in their jobs and the practice grows.

Provide a Pleasant Work Environment

Your office environment and design tell your employees how you feel about them and about yourself. If your office design is attractive and comfortable throughout, it says you are concerned about the needs of your employees.

Or, if your office is lavishly decorated in the lobby and in the treatment areas but shabbily furnished in the work areas, it may say that you only care for patients and are not concerned with providing a pleasant environment for your employees.

Be Flexible, When Possible

Some dentists prefer to have someone on staff full-time, either to meet the needs of their businesses or because they like the continuity with themselves and their patients.

However, because of changing situations in your employees' lives, some may not be able to or may not wish to maintain full-time hours. Many of these employees are people who enjoy their jobs and are quality workers. By offering flexible or part-time hours, you may be able to retain these employees and avoid the costly expense of employee turnover.

For example, offering part-time employment, either in the mornings or afternoons, helps you retain students because you can work around their class schedules. Parents with school-aged children may wish to work during school hours. New mothers may wish to work only on certain days, due to childcare arrangements.

Offer Financial Incentives

Give your staff a reason to make your business a success. For example, offer staff members a $25 bonus for every new client they refer to your practice. Whenever possible, look for ways to share your financial success with your employees.

Learn What Your Employees Truly Want

Turnover is costly. On average, it runs approximately 25 percent of the annual salary of the staff member you must replace (including classified advertising, lost production, screening, interviewing, and training). Frequent turnover also hurts your image.

What is the solution? Give your staff members what they truly want. One practitioner asks the staff members what they want most and tries to give it to them. Over the years, he has given paid uniforms, longer vacations, flexible hours, and longer maternity leaves.

As a result, several extraordinary assistants have remained in the practice for more than eight years, and staff members are enthusiastic, motivated, and devoted to his practice.

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