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Benefits that Motivate Employees More than a Raise
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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It’s difficult to find and keep high-quality employees these days. If team members aren’t happy for any reason, they won’t hesitate to look for another job – leaving you to begin the dreaded hiring process.

Many dentists give out raises to keep team members happy (even if they haven’t earned them), but this can damage a practice if payroll goes above 20-22% of revenues. While team members appreciate raises, (but again, only give them out if employees have met or exceeded performance measurements, not just because a year has gone by since the last raise) there are other benefits they might appreciate more.

Offering a solid benefits package is key to attracting and retaining high-quality employees who want to do their part to help your practice succeed. In fact, according to Glassdoor, almost 80% of workers would prefer new or additional benefits to an increase in pay. Not only that, information about the company’s benefits program is one of the top five things job seekers want employees to provide. This information helps them decide which jobs to apply to and which jobs to avoid.

The benefits package you offer says a lot about your practice culture and your brand. And the truth is, most employees want basic, core benefits, according to Glassdoor, which include health insurance, paid leave and retirement plans. Employees want these staples more than specific benefits such as maternity/paternity leave, dependent care, free gym memberships, stock options, free food and childcare assistance.

The message here? Employees will be more satisfied with their jobs if you get the basics right. Sure, team members also enjoy ancillary benefits and fun perks, so go ahead and offer a few if you can, but if you start cutting basic benefits they won’t be nearly as happy. And that, unfortunately, could prompt them to apply for a job at the practice down the street.

Speaking of the practice down the street, to stay competitive it’s important to know what benefits other practices in your area offer. If you’re not in line with them, it might be time to consider upgrading your benefits to help make your practice more attractive to top-notch candidates as well as to encourage current employees to stay loyal.

Now if you think you might have to make cuts to your benefits, look at competitors’ packages, and also find out how their team members reacted to any changes or modifications they made. This will give you insight into how changes might affect your team.

I also suggest engaging your employees if you plan on making any changes to the benefits you currently offer. Ask them how they feel about certain benefits and what’s most important to them. You might be surprised by what you hear. And then when it’s time for the rollout, include clear messaging about the rationale behind any modifications.

Of course, making changes to those three core benefits will have the most impact, on both current and potential employees, but adding ancillary benefits will help promote goodwill, even for those employees who don’t take advantage of them. So if you do find you need to make cuts to the core benefits, think about what perks you can add to help lessen the impact felt by those cuts, whether that’s transportation assistance, wellness programs, financial education or paid time off to volunteer.

While team members are never going to say no to a pay raise, most of them would prefer a solid benefits package. They want health insurance, paid time off and retirement planning. A benefits package lacking in any of these three areas might keep high-quality candidates from accepting a job with your practice or might send long-time employees looking at job listings. Remember, your benefits package says a lot about your brand and your practice culture. If you don’t stay competitive with what the industry offers, it will only hurt your practice and team morale. When it’s time to make changes to your offerings, do your research and try to keep cuts to any core benefits to a minimum.

I suggest you take a look at your benefits package and do some research to make sure it’s up to industry standards. If it’s not, consider making some changes and even adding auxiliary perks. Employees will be happier if they have the benefits they need, and that means they’ll be more productive and eager to do their part to help the practice grow.

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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Carol Tekavec, RDH
Hygiene Consultant
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When in Doubt, Go Back to Basics
By Carol Tekavec RDH

A new year can bring a sense of bright beginnings and a chance for a fresh start, but it can also bring a sense of uncertainty. After a consequential election, a sense of uncertainty can be more pronounced. What will be the best way to navigate changes that are likely in store for our nation, our practices, and ourselves as individuals?

National changes will likely include modifications in insurance options for persons purchasing on the individual market, but may also affect plans provided by employers. Dental offices who have offered medical plans for employees may find changes in available plans, but on a time-table that is currently not known. Will there still be a requirement for coverage for pre-existing conditions? Will that coverage trigger higher premiums? Will there be a reinstitution of payment caps for chronic or critically ill persons? For dentistry in particular, individual plans under Obamacare guidelines did not typically provide for dental coverage, but expanded Medicaid plans did specify coverage for children. Offices with a contingent of Medicaid patients will need to stay on top of eligibility modifications that may be coming.

One way to face a time of uncertainty is to focus on the basics of our practices and how we approach our profession. The profession of dentistry is one that affects millions of people in a positive way each and every day. Our patients rely on us for the relief of pain, the restoration of function to their teeth and mouths, and the renewal or rebuilding of their appearance. These are no small accomplishments!

In addition, as small business owners, we provide employment to thousands of professional assistants, hygienists, and clerical staff. Their families depend on this employment for income for their present and future needs, as well as their retirement. As has been said many times, small business is the engine of prosperity for the country.

With these incredible strengths in mind, we might effectively prepare for the future and whatever changes may be coming by focusing on these strengths in a “back to basics” approach.

1. Courtesy to Patients is Important!
When a patient comes into the office, the front desk staff should be prepared with a smile, a friendly greeting by name, and their full attention. Discuss at your next staff meeting how you want patients to be welcomed. Pushing a clipboard with a medical history attached while continuing a conversation with co-workers is not an effective way to receive a new patient. Patients who neglect to “check-in” should be approached at their chairs in the reception area, rather than yelled at over the desk, “Are you Mrs. Smith?” Returning patients appreciate staff remembering their names with the proper pronunciation – note the pronunciation on their computer record so all team members have access. The mindset should be that of greeting a valued friend in your home.

2. Patient Care and Comfort is Paramount
Offer patients a pillow, a light blanket if needed, a tissue, and lip lubricant. Have headphones with music or TV available. Many patients dislike our bright overhead lights, so have dark glasses on hand. Use topical anesthetic prior to injections, and keep carpules in a heated container. When treatment is complete, ask patients if they would like to rinse with a mild mouthwash at a sink. These little extra touches cost next to nothing and can make a big impression on patients. They understand that you care about their comfort, not just getting them in and out of the chair. Plus, it sets you apart from other offices.

3. Cleanliness Matters
Make sure the reception area, restrooms, hallways, and treatment areas are scrupulously clean! Get rid of dusty fake plants, old magazines, and worn chairs and carpet. Assign someone the task of checking the restrooms every two hours to make sure everything is clean and neat. Be sure carpets and floors are vacuumed and swept. Sometimes impression materials or other debris can find their way to a hallway floor. Invest in a little sweeper for quick between-patient cleanups. Check out the overhead light covers for dead bugs (you would be surprised at how often this is overlooked). Be sure the chair overheads are clean of splatter. Patients notice everything and will not be comfortable that your treatment instruments are clean if the surrounding areas are not!

4. Talk with your Patients
After treatment, talk to patients about what has been accomplished. Show off your beautiful work! Let patients know that if they have any issues, to call immediately. Also, don’t neglect a great source of new patients; emergencies. Set aside time in each day’s schedule to see someone who is in pain. People who have been rescued from a toothache are great advocates for a practice.

5. Marketing
Be sure your staff members have their own business cards. They can give these to potential patients they may meet in the “outside world”, or simply to provide professionalism and pride in their careers.

The future is always uncertain, but we know that providing our most excellent care and treatment for patients can be a constant, and a way for us to stay competitive and successful. We can face the future with confidence with this knowledge. When in doubt, go back to basics!

Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?  Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

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