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How practice owners can adapt hiring practices to meet staffing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic

August 27, 2020 4601

Practice owners are faced with the new responsibility of finding innovative ways to recruit and hire new employees during the COVID era. As the pandemic continues to evolve and business demand fluctuates, employers must adapt their hiring practices to ensure they meet staffing needs in the safest and most efficient way possible.

The following strategies can help practice owners recruit talent that best fits business needs while also remaining in compliance with legal and safety regulations.

Hire candidates for more flexible roles

Practice owners could consider hiring more part-time and per diem roles to avoid possible staffing shortages. Adding more flexible roles can benefit dental offices when more employees may be taking time off to care for a sick family member or stay home with children whose school or place of care is closed or operating remotely due to the pandemic.

Shifting to a more flexible workforce can also help companies save money by only paying employees for the work needed in the moment. (Read “Compliance essentials: Hiring and paying temporary employees” to learn more about the requirements of hiring and properly paying short-term employees.)

Utilize the technology you already have

Even as some states ease restrictions related to COVID-19, some prospective employees could be concerned about physical proximity during the interview process. Practice owners can help candidates feel more comfortable and reduce the risk of exposure for themselves and current team members by handling the interview and hiring process remotely.

Many dental practices are already utilizing videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom or Skype to conduct teledentistry appointments and meet with patients remotely. If feasible, practice owners can use the technology that’s already available to them for interviews, onboarding and new-hire training.

If applicants must come into the workplace, employers should conduct the interview in a location that allows for adequate social distancing.

Set up a referral program

Practice owners could allow team members to participate in the recruitment process by setting up an employee referral program. Employee referral programs have proven to lower overall recruiting costs and can improve employee satisfaction and lead to better employee retention rates, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

The process should be easy for employees to use and encourage participation with the following steps:

  • Determine the strategic goals and anticipated outcomes of the employee referral program.
  • Design a process that is fast and simple.
  • Devise rewards that will encourage employee participation, such as gift cards or bonus payments.
  • Include features to maximize referrals, such as providing feedback to help employees improve their referral skills in the future.

Hire the best talent that fits the dental office’s culture

During the hiring process, it’s important to choose candidates who meet the requirements of the position and the culture of the dental practice. New hires who adhere to the values and work environment tend to be happier in their role, start contributing quicker and stay longer with the company — saving employers time and money that would be required to replace them later.

The CDA article “4 ways to create a positive work culture during the COVID-19 pandemic” encourages employers to revisit the practice’s mission statement, define the goals and values of the office and specify how each team member is expected to contribute. Having a clear vision for the practice will make it easier to decide which candidates will fit best with the existing team and help drive long-term growth and success for the dental office.

More tips and resources to help dentists and their teams practice safely during the pandemic are available in CDA’s Back to Practice center.

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