Hiring managers throughout the entire healthcare field have struggled to fill open positions for several years. The dental industry is no exception. The field has a long history of staffing shortages, which have been amplified by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As the world starts to return to normal, dental practices, including those belonging to a dental service organization (DSO) are stretched to meet patient demand. Less than half of dental hygienists who left their job when the pandemic started returned to the workforce in 2021. Many have chosen not to go back to work or have even switched careers due to the stress of being a healthcare worker during a pandemic.
One survey found that 66.7% of dentists working at DSOs say it is extremely challenging to hire dental hygienists, and 50% reported that it is extremely challenging to hire dentists. This means, DSOs have to get creative to attract quality dental workers to their practice to continue providing quality care for their patients.
How to Combat Hiring Challenges
You have likely experienced hiring challenges before and will probably have them again in the future. One way to weather these times is to shift your focus to the employees you already have. Creating a better work environment can help you retain your current employees and can also attract new ones to your practice.
Staff shortages typically push existing employees to take on more job responsibilities than usual. The increased workload can heighten stress levels and even lead to burnout among your teams. You need to take proactive measures to retain the quality employees you already have so you do not have to fill even more positions. Recognize that employees may have to take on more responsibilities than usual and look for ways to help reduce the added strain.
Options include implementing software that can take on administrative tasks through automations or help streamline day to day tasks. Through practice management or imaging solutions that reduce the workload for employees, you can work to lower the rate of burnout and attrition in your workforce.
Asking for employee feedback is another way you can identify ways to improve your workplace. Send out a survey to all your employees and ask for feedback on what they like about working with your organization and areas they feel could be improved. This data will give you a good starting point to implement changes within your organization and strengthen your employee job satisfaction. If your organization starts gaining a reputation as good place to work, you increase your chances of getting more interested job candidates.
Change Up Your Recruiting Strategies
Revisiting your current recruiting strategies and making appropriate adjustments can help attract excellent candidates to your DSO. Over 70% of people already employed are open to new job opportunities. Follow these recruiting tips to attract more candidates to your DSO:
Give Job Candidates the VIP Experience
Job interviews are not just for you to learn more about your candidates but are also an opportunity for potential new hires to learn more about your organization. Since dental workers are in high demand, your practice is likely not most candidates’ only option. You want to give each candidate the VIP experience to get them excited about the prospect of working for your practice. Treat job candidates the same way you treat your patients: respect their time, be hospitable, and make yourself available to them to answer any questions.
Post Job Listings on Social Media
If you only advertise jobs in the local classifieds, you are likely missing out on a lot of quality candidates. LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly popular platform for employers to advertise their job openings. Alternatively, you can post about job openings on your social media profiles like Instagram and Facebook. Encourage employees to share and engage with your posts to increase the reach of your social media posts.
Establish an Employee Referral Program
The majority of jobs are not found online; 60% of jobs are found through networking. Your employees were trained among many other qualified dental professionals and probably still stay in contact with some of them. Implementing a monetary incentive program for employee referrals can help you gather a new pool of qualified candidates while also benefiting your current employees.
Write a Compelling, Accurate Job Description
You want to create a compelling job description to attract candidates to apply to your position. However, do not oversell or sugar-coat the job position. Clearly write out job expectations and duties. Nobody wants to walk into their first day of work expecting a set of particular responsibilities only to realize that they will have much more on their plate. This disparity can cause unnecessary job turnover and further disruptions to daily operations.
Highlight the benefits of working at your DSO. Maybe you offer student loan forgiveness, offer a four-day workweek, professional development, or have great insurance benefits. Put these advantages in your job description to give you a leg up on your competitors.
Check Resumes Posted Online
Many popular job boards also have a feature to search through resumes that people have posted in your area.
Check these boards for potential candidate’s resumes:
- Dental Associations in your state
A quick resume search could help you find the perfect match for your practice. Contact the potential candidate and give them the VIP experience to attract them to join your organization.
Revisit Past Candidates
Sometimes you will have a bigger pool of qualified job candidates but only one spot to fill. Do not think that just because you could not offer an employee a position a few months ago that they are not interested in your current opening. There is no harm in keeping around resumes from previous job cycles and contacting them when a position opens up.
Grow Your In-House Talent
There is a limited number of dentists, hygienists, and assistants, and they are distributed unevenly across the country. This can make it extremely difficult to get any applicants to respond to your ads in certain areas, let alone quality applicants. If you are hurting for more dental assistants, you may have potential candidates already working for you.
One idea is upskilling or cross-skilling your current employees. A DSO in Massachusetts is training its office staff on how to do dental assistant duties. Once they have completed the required training hours, the dentists write a board recommendation letter, and Massachusetts licenses them in dental assisting. Look into regulations for your specific state to see if this is possible for your practice. This strategy will not work for every practice, but if you have motivated employees who are interested in cross-skilling or upskilling, this may be a good option for your DSO.
Empower staff through long term solutions
With many dental professionals having permanently left the industry, the hiring shortage isn’t likely to go away any time soon. That means, DSOs and dental practices that employ longer term solutions will be better able to attract and retain talent and manage this ongoing labor shortage. One way you can empower your staff is through better technology solutions. Solutions like Denticon practice management and Apteryx digital imaging can help practices accomplish more each day while reducing administrative tasks and inefficiencies. Our cloud-based solutions enable your team to collaborate easier through anytime access, automate reporting, patient communication, and streamline imaging. Learn more by speaking with someone from our team about how our solutions can help your DSO.