"The Great Resignation" and How it's Affecting Dentistry
What is "The Great Resignation"?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, during the months of April, May, and June 2021, a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs across a variety of fields. This trend of departure is known as “The Great Resignation of 2021” and unfortunately, service and healthcare industries might be getting hit the hardest.
What triggered this mass, voluntary exodus from the workforce? For some, the impact of the pandemic caused a shift in priorities. It was the disruption some people needed to change careers to pursue their dream jobs, become stay-at-home parents, or maybe move to be closer to family. For others, the decision to resign came as a result of turbulent working conditions during the pandemic.
How is "The Great Resignation" Affecting Dentistry?
1. Recruiting Challenges
A May poll from the ADA Health Policy Institute found:
- 35.8% of owner dentists are recruiting dental assistants
- 28.8% are seeking dental hygienists
- 26.5% are looking to hire administrative staff
- 13.1% are in search of associate dentists
— all four percentages being a dramatic rise since October 2020.
Even before the pandemic, dental practice employees were in short supply. It is speculated to be caused by the rising cost of educational requirements as well as a lack of awareness for growth opportunities in these positions. Now, however, over 80% of owner dentists report recruiting qualified employees to be seriously more challenging compared to before the pandemic.
The American Dental Association as well as affiliate dental associations are monitoring the dental employee shortage and taking steps to address it. In an effort to raise awareness of the various allied dental-related employment opportunities, the ADA has created two different customizable recruitment flyers you can download here: Dental assistants and dental hygienists & Dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental office managers and dental laboratory technicians. The ADA also offers information and tools on managing the dental team, following a hiring process, leading a dental team during a pandemic and more at ADA.org/Staff.
2. Operating With a Smaller Staff
What are some of the day-to-day issues dental practices face with less staffing?
When positions are left open, it affects the way dentists and their remaining team members operate, possibly impacting the quality and quantity of care your practice can provide its patients.
Many people report leaving their jobs during the pandemic because of burnout, stress, and anxiety. Unfortunately, resignations make it even harder for the remaining employees. It becomes a vicious cycle where employees are left feeling overworked and overwhelmed, and then they may consider a career change, too.
Modern technology and efficient equipment is more important than ever to ease the burden on the team, streamline operations, and increase practice profitability. Incorporating new tools and technology into your current workflows not only benefits your patients, but also supports your team and gives you a competitive advantage in recruitment. People want to work in a modern practice and appreciate having well-functioning equipment and technology in place that automates time-consuming tasks, allowing them to focus on patient care.
3. Difficulty Retaining Staff and Recognizing Burnout
While some turnover is a normal part of business, many dental practices are experiencing staffing needs beyond anything normal. It’s important for dentists and owners to learn to recognize signs of employee dissatisfaction and burnout and to develop strategies to reduce the negative impacts on employee health, productivity, and team culture.
Harvard Business Review suggests that owners ask themselves which factors could be driving higher resignation rates. Exploring metrics such as compensation, time between promotions, size of pay increases, tenure, performance, and training opportunities can help to identify trends and blind spots within your organization.
Ultimately, communication among the dental team is more important now than ever. Health care professionals need to support one another as we continue to navigate through this pandemic and look to available resources to ease the day-to-day burdens for yourself and team.