The Why Behind Dental Employee Turnover and How to Solve it
According to a recent survey of more than 13,000 U.S. dental professionals, 29% are planning to look for a new job before the end of the year. In addition, around 11% of dentists plan to retire in the next two years.
For an industry that’s considered a necessary public health service, these are startling statistics.
Dental employee turnover rates are on the rise, and it’s important for practices to understand how they can retain their current workforce to the greatest degree possible. Today, we’re taking a look at why these rates are so high and what your practice can do to lower them.
A Snapshot of Dental Employee Turnover Trends
Before we dive into effective retention techniques, let’s briefly dive into what the dental job market is like, and what it may become in the future.
As we do, it’s important to distinguish between two different types of dental professionals:
Where turnover rates are highest, they’re usually attributed to dental associates or employees. For instance, in the aforementioned survey, fewer than 4% of associate or employee dentists reported that they’ve been with their current practice for more than 15 years, and fewer than 11% had been there from seven to 14 years.
Conversely, 74% of practice owners have been at their location for more than 15 years, along with 65.5% of partners. While associate dentists can transition into more senior-level owner positions, most require between five and 14 years of experience before they can successfully do so.
Thus, the impetus is on dental practices to retain those associates while they still have them. If they can minimize turnover rates and hire from within, it helps:
- Conserve resources
- Boost team morale
- Maintain a consistent brand image
- Build patient loyalty and referrals
Ways to Minimize Dental Turnover Rates
When looking for ways to minimize turnover rates at their practices, dental leaders must understand the leading causes that spur these employees to look for a position elsewhere.
Much of this dissent traces back to feelings of burnout and exhaustion, which are reported at high levels among dental staff. One report reveals that more than 84% of dentists and 26% of dental associates feel burned out at work.
Some of the most common issues leading to burnout in the dental community include:
- High-stress work environments
- Extended work hours
- Insufficient pay or benefits
- Lack of work/life balance
- High-performance expectations
- Lack of recognition
Understanding how to mitigate these concerns can help practices retain their current staff members and minimize the percentage of their workforce that ultimately exits. Here are a few ways you can do so.
Establish Open Communication Policies
Dental employees don’t usually decide to leave their practices overnight. In most cases, it’s the cumulative result of weeks and months spent unhappy or dissatisfied. When they know that they can come to their supervisors with these concerns and not face reprimand, it can help them feel more valued and appreciated at work.
Create a culture within your dental office that allows your staff to feel engaged and motivated. Regularly ask for their input and show them you value their opinions. Then, incorporate their insights when making big decisions such as:
- Crafting new policies
- Designing contract negotiations
- Creating position descriptions
This type of collaboration helps you build rapport and respect with your team members. It also means they’ll be more likely to come to you before a minor frustration turns serious.
Equip Employees With IT Tools
Staffing shortages stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the frustrations of dental employees, who now find that they lack access to both the tools and the personnel they need to do their jobs well.
To mitigate the challenges that the crisis has created, the American Dental Association (ADA) suggests that dental offices stay on top of advances in healthcare technology. They especially recommend tools that ease administrative workloads and streamline task management.
This is where an app like XenonChex comes in. Our platform includes features that simplify everyday activities around the dental office, including:
- Task Management
- Assignment tracking
- Document management
- Custom form creation
The ADA explains that tools like these create convenient solutions to current workflows, helping companies ease employee burdens, streamline operations, and improve profitability. They also reduce the number of team members required to perform a given task.
These capabilities are becoming increasingly important as dental teams are required to document and perform more rigorous safety protocols with fewer colleagues available to share the load.
Keep Workplace Commitments
A lack of consistency can breed resentment in dental teams, especially if you promise your associates one thing and then deliver another. To keep your workforce engaged and reduce employee turnover, make sure to honor any commitments that you extend.
For instance, if you offer benefits such as a flexible work schedule or paid time off, don’t scoff at those requests when they come down the pipeline. As a general rule, avoid making any promises or commitments that you know your team can’t ultimately keep.
If you make good on your offers, then you can help boost morale, foster productivity, and reduce the costs associated with hiring new, qualified dental candidates.
Reward Excellent Work
In one recent Dental Economics (DE) report of nearly 11,000 dental professionals across all 50 states, researchers found that 43% of hygienists do not feel valued or appreciated at work.
Ask your employees about the types of incentives and rewards they’d like to see in the office. While some may undoubtedly request a raise, you might be surprised to find that others value benefits that facilitate their work/life balance, such as additional time off.
Investigate Pay Raises
According to the DE report, 36% of dentists took a pay cut in 2021, primarily due to COVID-19 restrictions that limited their number of working hours. Of those whose schedules were reduced, 35% plan to find a new job within the next year and only 7.5% plan to wait until the environment is safer before seeking work elsewhere.
Depending on your work environment and current policies, you may not be in a position to accommodate raises at this time. However, financial compensation is a chief motivator when it comes to reducing turnover rates. Hold at least one performance review per year, and use that time to research possible salary changes.
Invest in Team Training
When dentists have access to the knowledge and resources they need, they’re less likely to feel frustrated, burned out, and ready to move.
While investing in platforms like XenonChex can help equip them with the IT tech they need, be sure to train them on how to properly use the tools at their disposal. Allow plenty of time for questions and feedback, and hold routine refresher sessions to address new issues.
As you focus on making sure they have the in-office support they need, also look for ways to foster their long-term growth. From industry conferences and trade shows to professional development opportunities, show them you’re invested in helping them build their career and reach their full potential.
Retain, Equip, and Empower Dental Employees
As the healthcare industry continues to map out its plan for post-pandemic operation, employee turnover rates are high. This trend extends into the dental sector, where associates are feeling frustrated and burned out after two years of rigorous policies, administrative overload, and changing patient demands.
You can retain your talented staff members by prioritizing their emotional well-being, offering them opportunities to vent, share ideas, and receive rewards for their hard work. You can also invest in tools that simplify their time-consuming tasks and improve their performance quality.
XenonChex makes it easy to support your dental team at every turn. Contact us today to schedule a free demo.