Celebrate the contributions of dental team members to increase morale, improve retention

March 4, 2024
In a competitive hiring market, practice owners have all the more reason to show that they value their current employees. Be aware of upcoming employee appreciation weeks and discover CDA resources for hiring, training and retaining employees

Here is a friendly reminder to dental practice owners that March 3-9 is Dental Assistants Recognition Week. And that’s not all – Dental Hygienist Appreciation and Administrative Professionals Weeks are close behind, in April.

Employee recognition benefits the entire workplace

As the competition for talent escalates due to staffing shortages, the need for practice owners to show that they value their current employees is more important than ever.

Employee recognition software specialist Nectar surveyed full-time employees across the United States from 2022-2024 to discover the impacts of acknowledging employee effort. The survey found that 82% of employees agreed that being recognized for their contributions improved their engagement, while 71% of employees are less likely to leave an organization when they are frequently recognized.

Investing time and money into regularly acknowledging your employees’ good work pays off in dividends. Workplace culture experts at Great Place To Work share that 92% of workers are more likely to repeat a specific action after being recognized for it and that business productivity increases by 31% when employees are happy. Other benefits of a satisfied office team include improved patient care, reduced absenteeism and reduced workplace stress.

Several opportunities to go out of your way to show appreciation for your dental practice staff should be highlighted on your calendar:

  • Dental Assistant Recognition Week (March 3-9)
  • National Dentist Day (March 6)
  • Dental Hygienist Appreciation Week (April 8-12)
  • Administrative Professionals Week (April 21-27)

 Making recognition meaningful

 Celebrating annual employee recognition days/weeks is just one of many affirmative ways to draw new employees to your practice and reap the benefits of a workplace that retains satisfied employees. Here are six ideas for offering meaningful acknowledgement in the workplace.

  • Be specific. When recognizing an employee, help the employee tie the accolade to a specific behavior. Saying a casual “Thanks for all you do” is kind. Stating that an employee provided helpful care for a particularly anxious patient is not only kind, but it also demonstrates that you noticed the employee’s efforts.
  • Be timely. Praise that arrives days or months after the fact isn’t nearly as impactful as recognition that is offered promptly. Put formal recognition systems in place so that you (and other employees) can call out good efforts right away.
  • Offer one-on-one time. Research shows that most employees don’t feel they get enough one-on-one attention from their managers and leaders. Make sure that these interactions with your staff aren’t taking place only when you have corrective feedback.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Consider implementing a system so that employees can nominate each other for special recognition regularly or provide positive feedback for annual reviews.
  • Variety is key. Use a variety of methods to offer gratitude and praise beyond verbal affirmations. These might include acts of service (paying for lunch or sponsoring an office party), giving gifts (gift cards or performance bonuses), providing quality time (one-on-one interactions) and appropriate physical touch (high-fives, fist bumps or even a thumbs-up).
  • Make appreciation an event. Set aside time to acknowledge the efforts of the office team as a group. Creating a space for employees to have fun together bolsters morale and connection to their employers and their work, so it is an important retention and leadership tool for employers.

CDA supports dental team growth

 When it comes to events, CDA’s upcoming Dental Team Summit during CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry in Anaheim is an exciting new opportunity to acknowledge and encourage the efforts of your practice team. This engaging and interactive learning event on May 17 is designed to empower teams with the knowledge and skills to elevate their practice. Bring your practice team and enjoy skill-building, team-bonding and increased productivity together. Can’t make it to Anaheim? View more upcoming Dental Team Summit events.

CDA has an array of tools available to help dental practice owners with staffing challenges. Members benefit from easy-to-implement training programs. Our dental assistant training resources include a training roadmap, online training curriculum, and Smile Crew CA Bootcamps.

Practice owners who have used these resources have been delighted with the results. One dentist who utilized online training curriculum reported, “We were happy with our first experience with the program and our second candidate is now ready to go!”

Even if current workforce deficiencies have you scrambling to improve recruitment strategies and evaluate employee compensation packages, don’t lose sight of the best resource you have to deal with a staff shortage: your current employees. Make certain that they feel like valuable members of your team by offering your thanks and recognition regularly.


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