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Staffing: Seven Steps to Build a Superior Team

Course Number: 700

Step 6: Retaining the current team

Employee retention strategies are frequently overlooked by leaders in dental practices. Once a new employee joins the team you want them to stay. And keeping existing employees in their current jobs is also highly desirable. It is very expensive to replace a team member. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a company can expect to spend 6 to 9 months of an employee’s salary to replace them.1 The most successful retention strategy (beyond competitive compensation) is to treat team members as customers and provide them with excellent customer service. The more we treat our team as customers, the more likely we are to retain them, build motivation, and enthusiasm and increase staff longevity. One recommendation is to develop an annual calendar of customer events strictly focused on the team. In developing your calendar consider the following questions:

  • What education will be provided?

  • What meetings will be held and what are the agendas?

  • What training is needed?

  • What fun activities will the team engage in throughout the year?

You also want to build a phenomenally positive office culture. Workers today don’t want “just a job.” They want to belong to something important, feel like they’re making a difference, go to work to enjoy their coworkers as friends, and have respect for the leadership in their practice. Positive cultures have a tremendous impact on building a positive and successful team.

Furthermore, don’t forget to create a fun environment. People like fun and when they’re having a good time, they feel that they are working in the right practice. Surprises such as lunches, stocking the refrigerator or staff room with food and snacks, and other activities to demonstrate appreciation, go a long way toward building staff longevity, loyalty, and enthusiasm.

Another effective strategy is to offer a retention bonus. This is a bonus, for example, that could be paid on the anniversary of a team member’s hire date at 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 years with escalating amounts. Keep in mind that paying out even a significant bonus amount is much more cost effective than having to replace a team member.

Finally, we recommend that you meet with each team member periodically just to have a 10- or 15-minute conversation. Talk about how they are doing and what they see regarding the practice. This is not a performance review. It is a casual “catch-up”, and dentists should be very careful to listen to each team member.