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The massive shift toward agility includes dental staffing. Is your practice ready?

This is part 1/2 of our miniseries on agile dental staffing

It seems like every industry has been making a shift toward agile employment. This shift is a response to economic conditions, a sharing-economy culture and the preferences of the newest generation of workers. Business owners know the importance of keeping up, and dentistry is no different. That’s why dental practice owners are looking to new tools to increase agility in their employment practices.

Agility: Just what dental practices need

For a dental practice, being understaffed or improperly staffed can cause big problems. The success of the practice depends on every member of the team doing their job well.

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When a dental assistant, dental hygienist or dental nurse calls in sick or quits suddenly, the whole practice has to scramble to pick up the slack. The office gets behind schedule, and the quality of care may suffer. And the problems can last longer than the absence—unhappy patients may not return, and some may leave poor reviews for the practice online.

Inefficient staffing can cause problems, too. Sudden absences aside, if staffing doesn’t meet demand, the dental practice misses out on revenue. If a practice is properly staffed at busy times but overstaffed at slow times, the practice is losing money.

In sum, dental staffing requires a balance that’s difficult to achieve. Agile employment makes it easier.

Agile hiring is about you, not a placement agency.

Part of agility in hiring is having the ability to hire to suit your business’ needs. While many dental practice owners turn to a dental temp agency or a placement agency to fill vacancies, these staffing tools don’t lend themselves to agile employment. To learn more about the disadvantages of a dental temp agency, click here.


Agility means immediate solutions. When your hygienist calls in sick, you need a replacement now. Losing a full- or part-time dental assistant for a few days can be devastating.

With a temp agency, the wait can be unreasonable. In the time it takes the agency to look for qualified applicants and send someone to your practice, you’re losing revenue—and you might be losing patients, too. Once you finally get a temp, you’ll pay dearly in the form of high fees charged per hour on top of the temporary employee’s wages.

Long-term placements

Job placement agencies don’t lend themselves to agility in hiring on a long-term or temp-to-perm basis, either. Going through a middleman slows things down and takes control away from you. If you’re not in control, agility is out of the question. Money is a factor here, too. Permanent placement fees are high when you draw your new employees from a temp agency.

An agile solution

Dental practices that need agility in their employment practices are using Cloud Dentistry to fill short-term and long-term gaps. The cloud-based platform is designed to match dental practices directly with dental hygienists, dental assistants, dentists and specialists. By using tools that allow direct, real-time communication, dental practices can book hygienists, assistants, dentists and specialists in advance or even for the same day. It’s all about flexibility.

Flexibility, but with promise: What today’s dental workers want

The hiring landscape has changed a lot since the days of lifelong commitment. Today, both employers and workers need agility. Professionals tend to look for a job in dental assisting that fits now, not a job to last forever. Working as a dental assistant in Chicago might be perfect today, but that dental assistant may want to consider other positions or other locations later. He or she may want to learn expanded functions, change career tracks or move to another city. That’s why the most highly skilled and highly motivated dental workers are using Cloud Dentistry.

Many of today’s dental professionals prefer the flexibility they get by working as traveling or temporary workers. Those workers are not applying to traditional jobs in traditional ways. Dental practices should broaden their horizons and look for workers where the workers are.

Building relationships that work

Agile hiring isn’t just about meeting the dental practice’s needs. Hiring is, as it has always been, about  making the right match. That means you’re entering a partnership, even if it’s just in the short term.

In their article “Tours of Duty: The New Employer–Employee Compact” for Harvard Business Review, Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh introduce a “new compact” for today’s employer–worker relationship.

“Properly implemented, the tour-of-duty approach can boost both recruiting and retention,” the article says. “The key is that it gives employer and employee a clear basis for working together. Both sides agree in advance on the purpose of the relationship, the expected benefits for each, and a planned end."

The “tour-of-duty approach” can work well with dental hygienist jobs, jobs in dental assisting, jobs for other dentist supporters (such as office staff), jobs for dentists and jobs for dental specialists such as orthodontists. The tour of duty benefits both the dental professional and the practice, assisting them in creating a two-way relationship in which all parties know what to expect. But it can be difficult—if not impossible—to implement if your hiring practices don’t support agility.

So, are you ready? Here are some steps to take.

Determine what you need.

Do you need someone to fill a dental assisting position this afternoon? Do you need someone who’s used to helping patients with disabilities? Do you need a part-time dental hygienist for your busy Friday afternoons? Agile hiring allows you to staff your practice with maximum efficiency.

Look in the right places.

Cloud Dentistry assists the dental operator in agile hiring, making the right job matches at the right time. Dental offices who are hiring don’t want to waste time and money doing things the old-fashioned way. People in dental assisting and dental hygiene value their own time and income, as well. So why not go where the best people are? By using Cloud Dentistry, you can find exactly what you’re looking for in a dental professional.

Choose the right people and communicate with them.

Assisting dentists and helping patients are noble pursuits. People in dental-assistant careers, dental-hygienist careers and dentist careers entered the profession because they are helpers and clinicians. Their goals tend to be in line with the goals of the dental practices they work with.

As a dental practice owner or hiring manager, your chances of finding the right match are high when you use tools that allow you to communicate with potential hires. You can have a mutually beneficial relationship that lasts when you communicate and lay out a plan that benefits everyone, as in the tour-of-duty approach.

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It’s a new employment landscape. Rise to the occasion with agile hiring.

Agility in dental hiring means having the ability to fill your needs without delays. Cloud Dentistry can help you do exactly that. Instant access and real-time communication are key factors in making it all work.