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Staffing shortage at your dental practice? Learn 5 ways to weather the storm

January 10th, 2023 | 7 min. read

Staffing shortage at your dental practice? Learn 5 ways to weather the storm Blog Feature

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Each time I visited my dentist in the past year or so, the same concern arose: “What can I do about my dental practice's staffing shortage? ”

As a dentist and practice owner, you were never trained on how to handle economic issues such as staffing shortages. You know how to fix teeth, not the hiring crisis. 

While it’s not your job to fix staffing shortages, you do have to take steps to weather the storm, and either find ways to hire new team members, or retain your current ones. 

DCS is a full-service revenue cycle management service provider. Through over a decade of helping dentists get the cash flow they can count on, we’ve seen how they also deal with the ebbs and flows of the economy. 

In this article, we’re sharing 5 tips to combat staffing shortages at your dental practice. While you can’t predict what the economy will look like in the next few years, you will weather the storm by applying these tips that will help you retain your current staff, and even hire new team members. 

By taking proactive steps to combat staffing shortages, your dental practice will remain productive and profitable, with all of the right people in place.

1. Cultivate a healthy work environment at your dental practice

One of the best things you can do as a dental practice leader — for your financial and professional success — is to ensure your employees’ work environment is healthy and pleasant. 

This is crucial, especially during staffing shortages. People’s tolerance for toxic work environments is low. If you’re unsure if your work environment is toxic, check out this article from Dentistry IQ, covering 5 signs your dental practice’s work environment is toxic

Toxic work environments are born out of disorganization, lack of communication, and lack of work-life balance. All three of these will lead to resentment among your employees. 

To avoid a toxic work environment, make sure everyone’s roles and responsibilities are clear. 

When this happens, no one is stepping on the other’s toes to complete a task. 

You should also have weekly meetings with your entire team to touch base on how everyone is doing in their role, their goals for the week, etc. It might feel repetitive, but it helps your team communicate more effectively, and keeps everything in sync. 

Take steps to help your dental team bond with one another (and bond with you, their leader!)

When your team knows more about one another than just what their role is, they will bond easier. And it’s easiest to bond outside of work at a team-building event 

Consider having team lunch once a week where everyone can sit down and socialize while you cater lunch. Some offices will even have a team breakfast together. If weekly is too often, consider monthly, or even quarterly outings with your team to lunch or dinner. You could even consider events like bowling, escape rooms, or Top Golf. Friendly competition is fun and a great way to bond with your team. 

When your team feels happy to come to work and see their coworkers, they are less likely to leave for another job. And when potential hires hear about this work environment, they will be thrilled to be hired by you. 

2. Stay active on social media when posting job openings 

While you actively search for new hires, take advantage of social media such as LinkedIn. Share your job posting and other interesting aspects of working at your dental practice. 

You can also share job openings on your dental practice’s Facebook page, your personal Facebook page, or even in Facebook groups. 

During a hiring crisis, the goal is to cast a wide net, and hope you get enough applicants that you can be picky when choosing the right person.

Related: Two ways to hire the right people at your dental office

This is also where your amazing work environment can come into the picture. When you have work outings, make sure to take pictures and/or videos that you can share on social media. Be active on social media, consider spotlighting your team members, and post celebration photos that show how much you value your team. 

When potential hires see this, they’ll be more excited to apply. 

It also helps to be as transparent as possible on your job listing. Make sure you list the responsibilities and requirements clearly with a well-written job description, but also consider including the salary range (depending on experience), and any benefits they will receive. This can make a decision much easier for someone seeking a job. 


3. Offer flexible schedules for your dental team

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone was working from home, everyone is all about work-life balance. This is something that should be prioritized at your dental practice. 

A great way to retain employees and entice applicants is to offer flexible work schedules, and/or flexible time off. 

How can I be flexible at my dental practice?

We’re not saying to let your employees work from home 3 times a week. In fact, at a dental practice, that’s not really possible. 

But we are suggesting that you should have a conversation with your employees about what work schedules work best for them. Don’t get us wrong, it’s ultimately your decision as the employer, but asking employees for their input can go a long way. 

For example, let’s say you have an office manager who has a child who needs to be picked up from soccer practice at 3 pm on Wednesdays. So, your office manager needs to leave work 30 minutes early every Wednesday. Have a conversation with them and figure out a solution together. 

When you respect your employees' time outside of work, they will respect you as a leader AND as a person.

Related: 5 tips for becoming a practice leader at your dental office

4. Create incentive programs that will benefit your dental practice and your team members

Let’s be real - we all go to work to make money. And yes, there are other priorities that make a job meaningful, but compensation takes the cake. 

To retain your employees, create incentives or reward programs for them. For example, have a friendly competition to see who can bring in the highest number of new patients in a month. Whoever wins gets a bonus, an Amazon gift card, or even extra PTO. 

These programs will motivate your employees and make them excited to work - because they know they will be rewarded. It’s a great way to reward your employees while also increasing productivity. A win-win! 

And if your applicants hear that you offer incentives to increase their pay, they will be more intrigued to apply. 


5. Outsource your revenue cycle management services to save time and money

A great way to retain your employees and combat the hiring shortage is to look into a revenue cycle management service provider. 

We know what you’re thinking. “But wait, isn’t outsourcing a revenue cycle management service contradictory to keeping my current staff?” The short answer is no!

But let us explain. 

When you outsource your revenue cycle management, it keeps you from having to hire high-stakes roles at the practice. For example, you wouldn’t need to hire an insurance coordinator. And this will save you thousands in your overhead costs. 

The cost of hiring an insurance coordinator is approximately $50,000 - $65,000 per year. Let's say you're a mid-sized dental practice with monthly claims of just under $100k. Based on the claims revenue posted, your dental claims service fee will range from $1,400 to $3,500 per month. That’s about $30,000 per year. 

How much will you save? See savings calculator →

That’s a $20k difference between hiring an insurance coordinator versus outsourcing your revenue cycle management. 

So you won’t need to fill that role if you outsource.

An RCM service provider won’t replace your current staff - it will make their jobs easier

A common misconception is that outsourcing any part of your revenue cycle will result in letting go of a current staff member. That’s typically not the case! 

In fact, the RCM service provider is like an extension of your in-house team. They will handle patient and insurance billing tasks while your team focuses on dental patients. 

This relieves them of the stress that comes with dealing with dental insurance. This is a great way to retain your staff because they won’t feel overworked or overwhelmed with the amount of work on their plate. The RCM service will relieve them of it, and they can focus on the more rewarding work, such as patient service and care.

Don’t let the staffing shortage run your dental practice - be proactive in keeping your dental team

You can’t control the way the economy ebbs and flows, and you certainly can’t control a staffing shortage. But you can proactively take steps to retain your current dental team and hire new ones. 

The most important thing is that your dental practice remains profitable. And that’s not possible without your amazing dental team. 

DCS is a dental billing service provider that will empower your in-house team to provide an amazing dental patient experience, while our expert billers keep your revenue cycle turning. 

To learn more about how our services can help your dental practice get a worry-free dental billing process, schedule a call with one of our experts. 

Schedule a call with one of our billing experts.

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