11.03.06 - Issue # 243 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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So You Want To Keep Your Staff?

I once had a doctor friend of mine come up and ask me at a dental society meeting, “How does a doctor make an employee want to stay long term at their practice?” Then at another meeting I had a group of doctors ask, “What do doctors do that make employees want to leave their practice and go to another?” Both of these are good questions. However, the first question is the better of the two. He/She is the doctor that will more than likely be able to keep his employees long term, not the group that asked the second question.

I had a golf coach who taught me to look for what I do right in every swing that I make so I can repeat that movement. Looking for what you or an employee does wrong does not mean you or the employee will know what to do to make it right.

What makes working for one doctor different than working for another? These are just a few things that make a staff member want to stay long term.

1. Autonomy
Autonomy is about trusting your hygienist and knowing that he/she is there to take care of the patients in the same manner and provide the same quality of care to your patients that you do. Allow him/her to use the education he/ she worked so hard to obtain.

2. Respect
Remember that your hygienist is educated. He/She has gone to college and earned the degree he/she has because he/she is competent. He/She is trained in his/her specific field of hygiene and views the patients he/she sees as hers. He/She will provide quality of care.
3. Appreciation
Have you ever thanked your staff for being there? Have you ever stopped to tell them, “Wow! Those are some great x-rays you took.” “You handled that difficult patient in a fantastic manner.” Showing your staff that you appreciate them is priceless and it does not have to cost a thing.
4. Benefits
Ask your employees what benefits are most important to them. Some may prefer more money instead of benefits, but ask them. There are many ways to go about setting up retirement plans that will help you work towards your own retirement too.

Maybe that hygienist who has worked in your office for the last ten years one day a week would like to add a day or two.

5. Reward Program
A reward program must be well thought out. In planning a reward program, first determine what objectives you hope to reach in specific areas of the practice as well as your practice’s values. Involve the staff in creating the practice objectives. Some different rewards may be to send a staff member and their family to an amusement park, take an employee and spouse to dinner, or fill up their gas tank. These and many other ideas and how to set up a reward are in our book, “How To Reward Your Dental Team”.  

6. Raises
Should be based on production and performance. Usually these two items go hand and hand.

7. Surprises
When is the last time you surprised your hygienist or staff by buying them lunch or having somebody run for breakfast? Treating them to a spa day? Having them show up at work only to find out they are going to a baseball game and will be paid for the day? These are just a few surprises that show your staff how much you appreciate them.

8. The way they are made to feel.
Listen to their ideas and suggestions. Who knows, they may have the best marketing idea yet for your practice.

If you have a quality staff and you want to keep them, then show them. Everybody knows good workers are hard to find.

Many offices have a high staffturn over. Not only does it cost the doctor when it comes to training new people, but it also costs the doctor when it comes to patient retention. Many patients go to other practices because they were tired of seeing a different hygienist every time they went to the dentist.

When you look at the numbers and what it costs to train a new employee and how many patients you may have lost because of staff turnover, that small token of appreciation or the benefit plan you have set up may not cost nearly as much. Ask yourself, “Do I really show my employees what they mean to me by the way I treat them?”

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

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