group of dental staff

How to Retain Your Dental Office Staff

Retaining top talent is a pain point for employers across almost every industry in the United States. In fact, 47% of employers cited turnover and retention as top workplace challenges in a SHRM/Globoforce survey. Not only do low retention and high turnover come at a financial cost, but it also comes at a human cost, as companies with high turnover rates often experience low morale and engagement.

This is particularly important to consider, as the dental industry is projected to have lost 10.4% in revenue in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to IBISWorld. As dental offices across the country navigate what the pandemic means for them and their practice, dental employees are doing the same – and some are making the decision to leave.

So, you might be wondering what you can do to avoid these problems and retain your valued dental employees. The good news is that there are many ways you can boost your retention at your dental office. Here are a few ideas for how to retain dental staff.


Evaluate Your Compensation

One of the most common reasons employees leave a company is because of discontent with their compensation. To combat this, you’ll want to ensure you’re offering competitive compensation to your employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for dental hygienists in the United States in 2019 was $76,220/annually or $36.65/hour. This may be high or low depending on where you live, so consider running salary reports for all positions within your office in regard to your location.

Be sure to make adjustments if you notice you’re paying your employees significantly below the market average for their role in your area. Providing competitive compensation is a retention strategy that works across all industries.


Offer Incentives and Comprehensive Benefits

In addition to evaluating your base salary compensation, you’ll want to review the benefits your company offers. In some cases, some employees may be willing to take home less salary in exchange for a robust benefits package.

Even though your dental office may be small and securing top-tier rates on group health insurance may be difficult, you can still retain employees through the voluntary benefits you offer. Be sure to consider offering vision, dental, and disability insurance, as well as other nontraditional voluntary benefits like pet insurance, cancer insurance, and identity theft insurance.

In addition to insurance, employees value when their company offers various corporate discounts on services they commonly use, like gym memberships and cell phone plans. As a dental office, you may be able to provide niche perks that will help you retain dental employees, such as discounts on cosmetic dental services like teeth whitening, or reduced fees for orthodontic and routine services for employees and their dependents.

dentists with patient in chair smiling


Be Transparent in Communication

When employees feel left out of the loop, it tends to leave a bad taste in their mouths. Being upfront and transparent about what’s happening in the company, and involving employees in making decisions when possible, can help them feel valued and improve your retention rates. This means you’ll need to talk to your employees about the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential effects local orders may have on your business (e.g., reduced hours, potential layoffs, increased screening protocols, etc.).


Focus on Career Development

More employees than ever are interested in developing their careers. Providing opportunities like mentorship programs, on-site (and company-paid) continuing education, and advancement can help you foster a community of happy employees. By showing you’re committed to helping them grow professionally, you’ll improve your retention rates and the skills of employees.

Career development shouldn’t just be for DDS; it should also be offered to dental hygienists, insurance coordinators, and front desk specialists. Look into local and national programs or conferences to see what may be available and applicable to you. Who knows, the conference your front desk specialist attends may help your office realize new efficiencies or products you can implement, which can improve morale and even your bottom line.


Implement Employee Recognition Initiatives

When employees feel like their employer values them and their hard work, they’re more likely to stay at that company. Employee recognition programs can be simple, or they can be over the top; it depends on the organization. Some common ways employers can recognize employees include:

  • Saying “thank you” when an employee helps out.
  • Sharing an employee’s good work in a team- or company-wide email or meeting.
  • Sending a gift card to an employee for a job well done.
  • Providing employee appreciation lunches or meals


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Check in With Employees

Sometimes, the best way to improve employee retention is to solicit employee feedback. Consider sending out an anonymous survey to employees asking for their feedback on how the company is doing, what could be improved upon, and any workplace initiatives they’d like to see added in the future. Finding out what’s important to your staff firsthand will go a long way in your retention efforts.


For more insights into how to keep your employees from seeking greener pastures, check out iHire’s latest Talent Retention Report.

By iHire | January 26, 2021