Recently, the consultants at Pride passed around an article by Paul Nolan, called "The High Cost of a Disengaged Workforce." It really resonated with me, as we see this cost exacted from many a dental practice we come in contact with! The article opened with a Gallup survey statistical bomb shell:

“Gallup surveys how many employees in the U.S. work force are engaged and reports its findings each year. Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) are disengaged as of the 2016 report. Ever since Gallup began measuring employee engagement in 2000, the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. has never topped 33 percent. Worldwide, only 13 percent of employees working for an organization are engaged. (For the record, Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace.)”

dental practice team smiling

How does this relate to dentistry? If you have ever had what I jokingly call a “Walking Dead” zombie staff meeting, then you know our profession is not immune! The article went on to quote Alyssa Retallick, who, in a post for, stated, “actively disengaged employees aren't just unhappy at work - they're busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish. They're aggressively lowering morale and productivity levels. These people can be a real danger to any organization.”

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In a small business, it is easy to spot a perpetually disengaged team member, as they seem to suck the energy out of any change initiative over the long term. That still doesn't make it any easier to deal with. The question becomes, if lack of engagement is such an epidemic, how do we inoculate our own teams and keep them protected? The answer lies in all the leadership principles we teach at Pride Institute, that are so easy to talk about, but so difficult to do consistently!

In Nolan's article, they presented three steps that companies can take to increase happiness at work (which should sound familiar ...):

  1. Acknowledge contributions and effort. Go beyond the cookie-cutter recognition program and create unique recognition tailored to employees' passions.
  2. Recognize service. Don't wait for the traditional five-year anniversary. Celebrate milestones early and often, including at one month and one year.
  3. Enhance your culture. Work should be somewhere employees want to be, not have to be. Don't be afraid to give them opportunities to thrive.

It sounds so simple. As I often say, no dental assistant ever looked up at the sky in third grade and said, “I hope someday I can suck spit for a serious potato-head dentist and make his/her life miserable!” Point being? Bad, disengaged staff members are made by no or poor leadership, period. Life can be a slow, erosive process of mini failures and lack of fulfillment. It is our job to create a culture of meaning, where everyone on the team feels empowered and excited to participate. My profound wish is that Pride Institute helps our community defy the Gallup Surveys, by creating leadership mojo for those we touch. Get out there and engage your team!

Amy Morgan, Pride Institute CEO and Spear Resident Faculty

(Click here to read more dentistry articles by Amy Morgan).