April 25, 2017

Staff Morale Could Put Your Dental Marketing Plan in Peril

Why should you be concerned when a staff member quits your dental practice?

dental marketing staff turnover

Assertion

Effective dental marketing starts with you and your staffs ability to provide an experience to your patients, peers and community, that has people raving about your practice. To function at peak performance, morale, yours and your staffs, needs to be high.

When members of your dental practice staff leave, depending on the reason for them quitting, your dental practice marketing plan could be under performing due to a lack of morale.

If a staff member leaves for reasons like they moved, they are moving on to a new career or they are retiring from work, you probably don’t have much to worry about.

However, if they quit because they are not happy, concern is warranted.

Unhappy staff tend to fall short in going the extra mile when serving the needs of your patients. Their unhappiness also rubs off on other team member. The result is, you have a team who is not comfortable telling their friends and families about your practice, or, suggesting it to others as a great place to work.

In either case, your dental practice marketing plan is suffering, and your practice, overall, is likely under performing.

This article is written for dental professionals who want to make sure their practice is performing at an optimal level.

Why do people quit their job?

Studies show that the overwhelming majority of managers believe that people quit because of the money. Unfortunately, an equally overwhelming majority of employees indicate that money is not the primary cause of them wanting to quit.

Before we list out a few reasons people will quit, you should take note of the number one thing people want to experience at work. They want to be appreciated.

The reason this is so important is that it is one of the easiest things to ensure. After all, how hard will it be for you to let your team know that you appreciate them?

That aside, what are the reasons outside of money, that people give for quitting a job?

Here is a list of just a few reasons people might not be happy working for your dental practice.

  • Leadership does not do what they say they are going to do
  • Poor mentoring or coaching
  • Lack of empowerment
  • Poor conflict management
  • Don’t like a problem employee that is not dealt with
  • Receiving a small or no pay increase
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Being hired for something other than what was indicated in the job interview

Why You Probably Don’t Care About Staff Leaving

In companies all over the world, the prevailing mindset when an employee leaves is, “If they don’t want to be here, let them leave.”
If this seems familiar to how you respond when someone leaves your dental practice, don’t worry, you are not alone. 
Ways to rationalize staff leaving are plenty.
Do you find yourself uttering these thoughts when someone on your team gives their notice?
  • “They are gone, and I don’t have time to worry about it.”
  • “They were not the right fit for the job.”
  • “They always had the wrong attitude.”
  • “They never performed as I expected them to.”
  • “Everyone is replaceable.”
  • “Let’s just move on and find a replacement.”

All of these reasons, as well as the million other rationalizations that occur when leaders don’t want to face the music, are disastrous for ongoing performance optimization.

These excuses would have the same affect on practice performance as a dental patient making excuses as to why flossing is not for them would have on their teeth. Denial is a cause for decay.

Why You Probably Should Care About Staff Leaving

Turnover Costs

Some studies suggest that the cost of losing an employee is one times your average annual salary. That is certainly a number that should get your attention. 

When someone leaves, you have to hire a replacement, train them, and hope your patients and staff stick around to work with them. There are costs associated with all of this, and the costs are high.

And let’s not forget the fact that not all costs of monetary. The emotional toll this takes on you and your team is high, and a major cause of stress and underpeformance.

Cost of Disengagement Prior to The Employee Quitting

Turnover costs are not the only costs you will incur. Long before an unhappy staff member quits, they become disengaged. This is the period of time between the event that causes them to hate working for you, and the moment they actually quit.

This is a dangerous period of time.

If they are passively engaged, your practice will suffer because of their overall lack of productivity, attention to patient care as well as the effect they have on the morale of other staff members.

If they are actively disengaged, you have a bigger problem in that these people will work hard to actually sabotage your practice.

In either case, the biggest costs are staff productivity, lack of patient referrals due to an underwhelming experience at your practice as well as a lack of community engagement, stifling the referrals you get from other dental professionals as well as community organizations.

Much is in Your Control

Yes, there are costs. But if you ignore the root causes of staff quiting, you are sure to incur those costs. The beauty is, that if you are willing to accept responsibility for problems with your practice, you can not only avoid turnover costs, you can thrive.

You can be a better leader. You can hire better people. And you most certainly can let your team know you appreciate them. But you can’t do any of this if you shy away from the reality that some of what you are doing is flawed.

Solutions

When considering the environmental factors that lead to people wanting to quit, you should consider those things that pull them away, outside events that you have no control over, and those things that push them away, or internal events that you can control. The pull factors are not worth worrying about.

But the push factors, and solutions, should be on your radar.

  • As a leader, your job is a difficult one. You are not only the CEO, but you are also the person doing the work. This is not a common blending of responsibilities that other CEO’s have to deal with. That said, when you say you are going to do something, do it.
  • Good leadership starts with you, but doesn’t end with you. If a new dental assistant is hired, you need to make it clear to your team, that you expect the new hire to be properly mentored and coached. Naturally, if you are already providing effective leadership, your current staff will already be waiting and willing to help the next person hired for the job.
  • Empower your team to do the job. If you have an office manager, give them the power and authority to make choices and confront problems. Yes, it is your practice, but it is also theirs. If you trust them, they will trust you. If they are empowered to get the job done, you can focus on doing the things you need to do in order to grow your practice.
  • When conflict arises, deal with it. Do not put it off. There are a number of reasons for this. Two, however, are critical. When conflicts go unresolved, conflict remains. With the presence of conflict also, and in most cases, the presence of low morale. Two, your staff is looking at you for leadership. If they sense weakness, they will not respect you as a leader. Where there is the presence of a lack of respect, there is also, and in most cases, low morale.
  • Dental practices are like navy seal teams. They are a small group of specialists assigned to do achieve a mission. When on team member fails, they all fail. So, do make sure you keep tabs on the bad apples. If one team member is causing too much conflict, you must intervene and either adjust their attitude or get rid of them.
  • Small pay or any pay increases might make you question my assertion that money is not the issue. Don’t fret. This is not about the money. It is about being appreciated. When you fail to give a bonus, or an annual increase of pay, without being asked, you send a clear message to your staff. YOU DON”T APPRECIATE THEM
  • Sexual Harassment…don’t do it. 
  • When you hire someone, make sure you are hiring the right person, for the job you tell them they will be doing. Nothing is worse for you or for them than hiring them for a job they can’t do, or for a job they were not aware they were going to have to do.

 

A great way to have your staff feel more like a member of you team, is to let them blog, on your blog, about things that matter to your patients and to the community at large.

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