Hiring and retention are down across the board, including the dental industry. As of March 2022, one in three dentists reported they were short staffed, with the majority noting hiring was a major challenge. It's also a problem that feeds on itself. An understaffed dental practice is stressful. Appointments get delayed, patients get angry, and office staff workers take the brunt of it. The goal in hiring for your dental practice can't merely be to fill positions; it has to be a long-term strategy.

As you're struggling to fill the gap, the idea of a long-term plan can be intimidating but panic drives bad hiring decisions that start a poor retention cycle over and over again. The result is practices can't plan for long-term employees because they're always behind.

Practices have to toss the scarcity mindset and start investing in resilient hiring strategies. That means rethinking the way you've approached hiring before and looking beyond what's on a resume.

dentist and team member conversation

Why Dental Team Members Leave

If hiring for a dental practice was as easy as offering the most competitive compensation, then hiring would be straightforward -either you can afford to pay more than your competitors or you can't. But that's not the only factor in hiring and keeping dental team members. In one study of individuals who left their jobs, the work environment was the third highest factor in their decision to leave, while advancement and training also played major roles.

This is important for recruitment because it's what candidates will look at when they seek their next opportunity. The focus will be on the culture of the workplace, and that environment is all about the people.

When a practice is staffed with happy, engaged workers, it's easier to hire more happy, engaged workers. When it's not, the environment turns toxic. The toxicity filters into the business's bottom line. Trouble filling vacant positions was reported by 33.4% of practices that also had trouble filling patient appointments.

Hiring and retaining qualified staff increase your revenue. Recruiting can't be treated as only an HR strategy. Strategies in hiring for your dental practice need to take this into account.

Tips to Improve Hiring for Your Dental Practice

Improving hiring for your dental practice is about reconsidering traditional, stale methods of pulling in candidates. You need to rethink the who, where, and why of hiring.

chart with traditional approach vs. reimagined using 'Who, Where, Why'.

Rethinking these three components of hiring expands the pool of candidates and helps you make long-term and better hiring decisions.

Overcoming Barriers to Dental Recruiting

A big reason that dental practices stick to older methods of recruitment is that it's easier. Candidate management systems cut down on thousands of resumes, after all. It would be impossible to review every one. But there is a way to use them better.

Being more thoughtful about the kind of information that's collected from these systems is one step. For example, most dental practices will advertise for someone who is used to working in a “fast-paced environment” but just about every company describes itself that way. Instead, the practice may target individuals who “managed X number of client accounts,” regardless of industry. That helps them pare down the number of candidates to those who show empirical evidence of handling that practice's specific volume.

Of course, it's also important to use software that provides those kinds of granular-level analytics when hiring for your dental practice. By understanding the details of your specific practice, like your patient volume, value drivers, and other metrics, you can find candidates that will turn into long-term dental team members.

To get further insight on hiring for your dental practice, download Spear's hiring guide and learn how Spear Practice Solutions drives practice improvement through analytics.