Does your dental practice suffer from an inordinately high turnover rate? If so, you are not alone. Many businesses struggle to keep skilled and talented team members, and the dental care industry more so than most. A Gallup study revealed that employee turnover costs businesses in the US $1 trillion annually.
It gets worse; Gallup further reports that “The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary – and that’s a conservative estimate.”
The Ugly Reality of Employee Turnover
Let’s look at just one possible example of a disgruntled employee and turnover and how it affects your dental practice:
A new client arrives for their initial appointment at your dental office and is greeted begrudgingly by your front desk administrative team member. They sign in and sit down to wait to be called back. As they wait, they notice this front desk team member looking at the clock and sighing every five minutes. They may even make negative comments about the practice within hearing of clients who are waiting for dental treatments. It is obvious in every way that they do not enjoy working here.
How many other clients have gotten the same impression from this highly visible team member, who is arguably the face of your dental practice? How long before this is discovered and dealt with or the employee moves on? Irreparable damage is already done.
How often have you had the same experience in medical or dental practice? This type of experience leaves a stain on your practice’s reputation that is remembered for a long time. It encourages clients to seek other places for treatment and damages your bottom line.
But now, consider the cost of replacing that team member. Using information from Zip Recruiter, the average dental office receptionist earns $35,319 annually. So, accounting for the subsequent loss in productivity and other costs, replacing this front desk team member can cost you an additional $17k to $70k.
In addition to the financial costs, a high turnover rate is disheartening to your team and can cause a decrease in performance and plunging morale. Clearly, it is a better strategy all around to do what is necessary to keep your best employees. So, how do you create an employee retention strategy to sustain your success and growth?
Recruit the Right People
Keeping the best employees for the long term begins with recruiting and hiring the right people for your team. Of course, you want the most highly-qualified and experienced practitioners and support staff that are available. A comprehensive screening and evaluation process is key to locating and attracting the very best team members to staff your dental practice.
If you practice dental medicine and own the practice, this may be too much for you to handle. Professional staff recruitment services are available to perform these tasks and they also have numerous resources for locating potential candidates. This will require some investment, but obtaining the right team members that fit your practice needs and culture lays the foundation for successfully retaining them for the long haul.
Offer Competitive Pay
Some time invested here to discover the average pay for dental professionals and support staff in your area can help you begin your relationship with new team members on a solid foundation. Never offer less than the area average, and it is always a good idea to offer more according to a candidate’s skills, training, and experience.
Beginning your salary negotiations above the bare average sets a tone of respect and value from the outset. This creates a foundation for a positive company culture that appreciates talented people and rewards them accordingly. Be sure to include significant benefits and allowances for vacation and PTO, and other benefits as you are able.
Competitive pay and benefits are not the end-all to improve employee retention, but they are a solid foundation on which you can begin building.
Provide Opportunities for Training and Advancement
Many professionals seek new employment because they feel as if they “are going nowhere” in their current role. Competitive pay is only the beginning of a package that will retain the best people. Your team members want to feel good about themselves and what they do, that what they do matters, and that they are continually growing, as a person and professionally.
Investing in your team members’ personal and professional growth demonstrates that you value them as a person and that you value their contribution to your practice. Promotions to higher positions and places of responsibility also demonstrate your trust in a team member’s abilities. This strengthens relationships as well as the effectiveness of your dental practice.
Provide Motivation for Your Team
A paycheck is the bottom rung of motivation for your employees. They want to be motivated and encouraged by you in other tangible ways. Create a shared purpose and goals that everyone can buy into and provide incentives for reaching those goals. Recognize your team members when milestones are reached, and even on special occasions.
Simply treating your team like human beings, with respect and integrity, goes a long way toward employee retention. Cultivate a sense of family by looking out for one another, meeting needs and going the extra mile for each other. People do not stay long-term because of a company – they stick it out for the long haul because of the people around them.
Open Your Door to Ideas and Feedback
A wise owner realizes that your team sees and hears things you do not. But very often, these are things you need to see and hear in order to make changes or improvements. Welcome ideas and feedback from your team. Give their suggestions serious consideration, and do not criticize if something does not work. Trial and error is often the path to learning.
A feeling of openness and inclusion is imperative for growing employee morale, making employees feel valued and included in the work of improving your organization. Team members work harder and longer when they feel an invested interest in the success of the business.
Retaining your best employees takes a significant and dedicated investment, but it costs considerably less than the alternative. This is true financially as well as in damage to your reputation and harmed clientele.