By Wayne Kerr, DDS
Like many in our profession, I’ve had to dismiss a few “less than sterling” employees through the years, but I’ve always recognized that a stable staff sends a message to our patient family: that your practice is a great place to work, and they can always count on seeing their favorite hygienist or other team member.
Staff stability is not only important in maintaining long-term relationships between your clinical team and the patients they serve, but also profoundly impacts office overhead. Clearly, constant turnover, loss of efficiency, and the need for training add substantially to the cost of doing business.
Keeping outstanding staff on a long-term basis is largely an issue of team leadership and corporate culture. But success also demands a clear vision for the practice and sound hiring protocols. Other factors include:
Clear job descriptions: When employees know what it is that is expected of them, they have a far greater chance to serve the practice well. Primary, secondary, and tertiary tasks should be clearly stated, with any necessary training provided.
Appropriate delegation: Allowing each employee to maximally contribute to the success of the practice isn’t just good for the bottom line; it’s good for the self-esteem and professional growth of the employee as well!
Allow room for failure: Staff members cannot increase their skills without some risk of failure. Allow for that, and support them not only with in-office mentoring, but professional continuing education as well.
Invite participation: Welcome employee observations and contributions to improve patient and practice management. Having staff participate in updating the practice vision, mission, or annual business plan instills in them an important sense of ownership.
Provide incentives: In addition to basic financial security through a competitive salary, give staff members a reason to stay with you long term; invite them to participate in an office-sponsored retirement plan.
Be family friendly: Recognize that staff members have a life outside the practice and sometimes need some schedule flexibility.
Be appreciative: Compliment an employee in front of the patient for exceptional care or service. Recognize employees for their achievements, and celebrate their anniversaries of employment. Work with humility, and always say “thank you” at the end of each day!
Incorporating these concepts, and others, can help you develop a staff full of superstars which will enjoy serving you and your patients for many years!