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Do your dental nurses keep leaving? Here’s how to retain your best staff

As we make our way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it doesn’t look like the dental staff shortage is going anywhere. The 2022 Dentistry Census estimates that 39% of dental nurses are looking to quit their jobs over the next two years alone! The culprits of this mass exodus? Most likely a mix of challenging Covid-19 regulations, long hours, low pay, and high-stress levels.

But, all is not lost. If you’re suffering from low dental staff retention and unsure why, keep reading! Because in this blog, we’re highlighting the top 6 retention strategies you may be overlooking when it comes to keeping your dental staff happy, fulfilled, and loyal. Let’s go.

Our top 6 dental staff retention strategies

According to a 2022 survey of more than 13,000 US professionals by DentalPost, 14% of dental hygienists, 27.5% of dental assistants, and 29% of employee dentists plan to apply for a new job within one year! So, how can you beat the odds and make sure your best staff stay at your dental practice for the long haul? Here are our essential staff retention strategies.

1. Respect work/life balance

A survey by CIPD tells us that 79% of employees surveyed reported some stress-related absence in their organization in 2021. The leading causes of that stress? Large workloads, poor management styles, and Covid-19 demands. This startling statistic should clarify just how vital a healthy work/life balance is for your dental staff.

Make it a priority to check in with your dental nurses and broader team to ensure they’re happy with their workloads regularly. Give your dental staff plenty of notice if you expect they’ll need to work late on certain days and allow them to choose whether they work those hours or not, and consider giving your dental staff extra paid holidays to prevent burnout.

2. Foster a positive culture

According to Gallup, staff turnover costs US businesses $1trillion every year! Because apart from your new dental hire’s salary, you also have to account for loss of productivity and recruitment fees. If you want to avoid these costs, take a look at your company culture and assess it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then take an active role in improving it.

Instilling a positive work culture can help your dental staff feel appreciated, engaged, and motivated and help attract top dental talent to your practice. A positive company culture could look like this:

  • Open communication
  • Respecting one another
  • Rewards for your staff
  • Fun team events
  • Trustworthy managers
  • Caring for your staff
  • Opportunities to progress
  • Learning programs
  • DE & I initiatives
  • Mental health initiatives

3. Invest in your dental staff’s development

A 2019 LinkedIn report tells us that 94% of workers said they’d stay at a company longer if their employer invested in their careers. Dental professionals want the opportunity to learn and grow in their jobs rather than remaining stagnant. And by investing in your dental staff, you’re showing them you want to support their growth.

To increase staff retention, why not give staff a chance to attend training workshops related to their roles or even invest in an evening course to further their education. L&D initiatives will make them feel valued and also benefit your dental practice, as you’ll be able to nurture coveted dentistry and nursing skills within your already established team.

4. Show your dental staff you value them

You’d be surprised by how many dental practice principals don’t have the same patient bedside manner for their own staff. Not thanking them for a hard day’s work, noticing when they work longer hours, giving them the support they need for emergencies or sickness, or disrespecting them happens more often than you think.

Take the time to assess how you treat your dental nurses, hygienists, and reception staff. Are you telling them how much you appreciate them? Do you give them enough of your time to resolve issues? How can you make them feel respected and important? Make staff appreciation a vital element of your staff retention strategy today – you won’t regret it.

5. Encourage open dialogue and feedback

Feedback culture starts with the dental practice principal and is certainly not a one-way street. Get into the habit of giving your dental staff regular feedback rather than a very formal review at the end of the year. Feedback should be at the core of every dental practice’s retention strategy because it’s the only way you know what your staff want!

As we said, feedback has to go both ways. To increase dental staff retention, you need to foster a culture of open communication between you and your staff, allowing them to air out their grievances without fear. During feedback sessions, you can identify issues your team has and solve them before they become too severe and cause them to leave.

6. Thank your staff with benefits and rewards

According to EmployeeBenefits, 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefits package. Whether it’s gym memberships, medical insurance, pensions, extra paid holidays, bonuses, or on-site wellness initiatives, many employees appreciate benefits even more than a pay raise.

So, how can you add to your dental staff’s benefits packages? First, ask your staff what benefits they would like the most, so you can tailor your offering to their specific needs. Not every dental practice can afford large benefits packages, but a small gesture like an extra-long lunch break on a Friday can go a long way toward increasing staff retention.

Are you ready to level up your dental employee retention strategy?

We hope you’ve found this article helpful in your efforts to keep your best dental nurses, hygienists, and reception staff at your practice long-term. The war for talent combined with the dental nurse shortage is very real right now, but with these retention strategies at your fingertips, we know you’ll find ways to engage, attract, and retain your dental staff.

And if you need an extra helping hand to implement an effective retention strategy, why not talk to our dental practice business consultants and marketing experts?

At PatientBoost, we offer business consultancy, digital marketing, and web design services for dental practices that are ready to streamline and automate their processes, attract new patients, engage their employees, and upsurge profits. Book a free 15-minute clarity call today!


Dickens Yard Dental

Meet Dr. Sahil Thakkar. Owner, founder, and principal dentist of Dickens Yard Dental, a dental practice based in West London. As a brand new business, the main goal was to increase the number of new patients to kick things off.