The biggest issue facing our industry is hiring (ADA, 2021). If there has been one big takeaway from the pandemic, it has been that we are all looking for a better balance in our lives. We are all reflecting on our careers and homelife, and identifying what is important to us. In a recent survey, Hu Friedy (2022) found that dental professionals are looking for work-life balance, strong leadership and a positive work environment. So, let’s look at what that means for the jobseeker and the employer.
What does finding the right job look like? In the past, the focus may have been working hours, commute time, treatment types, etc. Now, as jobseekers, we are looking for a team we can really connect with. We have had time to reflect on what is important to us, and we wish to surround ourselves with a work family that supports and complements that. If we aren’t happy, we are moving on in search of something that aligns with our personal and professional goals. Convenience isn’t as much of a factor; we are looking for a job that makes us want to get up in the morning. Professional growth is a huge factor. Jobseekers want a clinic where they can expand their skills and gain autonomy in their profession. There is a desire to upskill, so finding a clinic that supports lunch-and-learns, team meetings, professional reviews, and online and in-person courses is high on the agenda.
What does this mean for your clinic? As a clinic owner, this means that your team, current or new, are looking for professional support. Set aside time to touch base with each team member individually and in purposeful groups. Explore the areas they want more training in and how they think you can improve your business. Ask your team to lead a brainstorming exercise about how their suggestions would work in practice. Listen actively. It can be surprising what feedback you will receive.
What does a highly productive team look like? Undoubtedly, the time and finances spent on training can seem daunting, but the knock-on benefit to team morale, purpose and cohesiveness is palpable. Shifting the mindset from that of the clinic belonging to the owner to the responsibility of the collective is powerful. A team with a joint purpose and vision is a happier and more productive team.
How do I find the right team members? We have all experienced the impact of the pandemic on our teams. We all parted ways with some of our key team members and those who stuck it out felt the pressure of an increased workload. Although our natural instinct when this happens is to fret, it can also be looked on as an opportunity for a fresh outlook. If you are currently in search of a team member, first look within your team and see if there is someone who is looking to be re-trained, cross-trained or re-appointed. Look at the transferable skills your team has and ask yourself if anyone would be more suitable in another position in your clinic. Talk to your receptionist and see if they are interested in treatment co-ordination, or talk to your assistant to see if they are interested in admin, etc. Consider having an operatory run by an assistant for children’s prophys, Invisalign reviews and records. By empowering your team to grow in the direction that satisfies their career goals, it shows that you believe in their skills and will garner their loyalty.
When hiring externally, really think about what your clinic needs in terms of the person you are seeking to hire. Certain things will be obvious when advertising – the job role, the hours, etc. Most job descriptions look like copy-paste ads of the same job, different location. The factors that are more important to mention are what your office feels like to work in. What can the candidate expect from the work culture, the leadership style, how the clinic is paced and what the expectations of the role will be in terms of autonomy. Similarly, what type of person are you looking to hire? The truth is it can be hard to verbalize, but we each will have something different in mind, so try to work it out. Finding the right fit for the clinic, your team, and for the job seeker ultimately will bring us all closer to achieving the work environment that we want to spend our day in.
About the Author
Dr. Aisling Whitaker is CEO of Dental Hive, a dental jobs app that simplifies the hiring process using smart matching, license verifications and dental-specific parameters. She is also a general dentist and owner of Bitehaus Dental in Toronto.