Management + Leadership

Incentives for the dental team

Part of our job is to create confident smiles. How, then, do we make sure our staff comes to work every day with smiles on their faces? Front desk staff, dental assistants and hygienists are the backbone of any good office. We begin to understand this as students, since we tend to play the roles of scheduler, dental hygienist and dentist all in one. As we transition into dental practice, though, how do we make sure our employees are motivated to bring their “A game” every day? Here are three incentives dentists use to motivate their employees.

1. Many dentists use a traditional monetary bonus program to drive production and employee satisfaction. Dentists often set a monthly goal for production or collections. At the end of the month, if the dental team has reached the goal, everyone receives a cash bonus at the monthly meeting. It is important to keep striving for success and further gains by increasing the production goal if the former goal is easily obtained multiple months in a row. Include everyone in this bonus plan to inspire them to make the office run as efficiently as possible.

2. For those of us who like to be creative, there are many other ways dentists motivate their employees. One of the most original ideas I’ve found came from a dentist I shadowed during my undergrad years. Each year, he gave every employee a few thousand dollars of free care that they could award to any patient they chose. Every practice has write-offs, but this doctor made the charity care an enjoyable incentive for employees.

Some other creative ideas to incentivize good performance are prizes for reaching goals, providing breakfast or lunch in the break room or giving employees extra vacation days. Think outside of the box! There are endless possibilities to motivate your employees without breaking the bank.

3. Lastly, work in the dental office can be stressful, tiring and hard on our bodies. I’m sure many of us have come out of a long clinic session with an aching back and neck. An interesting idea to motivate employees is to hire a professional massage therapist to come into the office for the day. Everyone would enjoy a free massage during the work day.

Dentistry can also be emotionally stressful. Between fitting in emergencies and working with unmotivated patients, we deal with a lot of daily stress. One idea to combat stress around the holidays is to hold an office party. Ask employees to bring a dish, or you can have the food catered, and exchange Secret Santa gifts to help build team camaraderie. You can offer small gifts for employees’ children or plan other holiday-themed games. Building a sense of family within the dental office helps increase work enjoyment.

It is important to learn what motivates your employees and makes them happy. Consider those motivations as you plan a system of incentives for your office. As in any business, if the workers come in with a smile every morning, you’re on a path to success.

~Tyler Robers, Marquette ’19

Tyler Robers

Tyler Robers is a third year student at Marquette School of Dentistry. He's from Neenah, Wisconsin and attended Carroll University for undergrad, where he majored in biochemistry and played baseball. He caught ASDA Fever early and has never looked back!

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