The best way to avoid losing staff to competitors, according to 1 dentist

Establishing a positive workplace culture involves several factors to keep staff happy and at your practice, according to Rajdeep Randhawa, DDS.

Dr. Randhawa, owner of Innovative Dentistry in Colts Neck, N.J., recently spoke with Becker's about workplace culture and how it can be used to attract and retain dental staff.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: How can dental practices enhance and leverage workplace culture to retain and attract staff in 2023?

Dr. Rajdeep Randhawa: The problem with dental offices is that due to COVID-19, stress and burnout, a lot of staff members have left the dental workforce permanently, while the majority of the ones still working are looking for new opportunities due to enhanced workload and high expectations from their employers. With corporate dentistry having very aggressive expansion plans for 2023, there is going to be a lot of job poaching of talented, well-trained staff between private dental practices and DSOs.

Workplace culture in most successful private dental practices is time tested, with long-term staff satisfaction and retention that leads to long-term patient retention for two or three generations! 

The problem arises when corporate dentistry and DSOs employ a "cookie cutter" corporate approach to multiply their offices in a short period of time and while doing so, they expect the same kind of results in all offices based on their data mining and analysis from thousands of offices throughout the country.

Workplace culture changes from one DSO to another and from one dental office to another depending on the leadership. Not every dentist is trained properly in the business of dentistry, something that reflects in the day-to-day operations and staff management in every dental office. Enhancing and leveraging workplace culture is not an ad hoc thing, as many successful companies spend a lot of time training and resources on trying to do it right, with many having limited success.

All dental employers and DSOs have to ensure not to resort to policies that end up making a toxic workplace. Toxic workplaces trigger burnout and loss of highly trained workforce to the competitors. It is always very tragic when a highly trained and experienced dental workforce decides to migrate to other professions or retire early. If your current staff is happy, enjoys working at your practice, and you have already retained them for over 10 years, then getting new staff if needed is not a problem as the old "word of mouth" works for attracting and retaining staff too! If you have a workplace culture where, after attracting staff with sign-on bonuses, you are losing them within a short period of time and start talking about work-life balance to overworked, stressed-out staff then, "Houston, we have a problem!"

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