The holiday season can be a tricky time for business owners. All your staff are likely to feel the pressure of extra professional and personal obligations throughout December, with the treat of mass burnout never seeming far away. To help keep your staff happy and continue providing your patients with the top-notch service they expect, here’s some advice on how to deal with the most common dental staff issues you can anticipate during December.
How to manage staff absences
With family get togethers, end of year parties with friends, school plays and everything else that pops up during the holidays, it’s almost certain that at least some of your staff will request a few days off at this time of year. There are several ways you can deal with staff absences, but by far the most effective way is to prepare for it as early in advance as you can.
In November, ask everyone to plan their holiday leave as best they can and request their days off as early as possible. Make sure you provide a cut-off date so staff don’t request last-minute leave which you’ll struggle to accommodate. Plot all the information you receive on a calendar so you can see which days you’re sufficiently staffed and which days you’re not.
When you have all the information in advance, you can plan accordingly. Whether that means hiring temporary staff to fill the gaps or arranging patient appointments so you can close your practice on certain days, knowing what you’re dealing with before it happens is always best.
Extra personal obligations during the holidays can make strict work schedules incredibly frustrating for your employees. Between coordinating travel to celebrate with family to shuttling children to school parties, there’s a good chance your staff will feel stretched thin.
However, because your patients’ social lives are also as frantic at this time of year, they expect you to be sensitive to their needs and go that extra mile to accommodate them, whether that means opening on weekends or extending your treatment hours.
Getting the balance right between keeping your staff happy and providing your patients with optimum care is challenging, but it’s something you need to do if you want to run a successful dental practice. Try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to time off. You might see it as an unnecessary struggle at first, but being considerate of your staff’s personal needs will show them that you really do appreciate them and reduce the chance of anyone suffering from burnout.
Maybe it’s because your patient appointment schedule is overloaded or maybe it’s because someone has already requested some time off, sometimes you’ve got no choice but to deny a member of staff’s request for a vacation. Be aware that in order to deny vacation time, you have to be able to prove that it would negatively impact your business — you can’t just say no for the sake of it.
If you are forced to say no to someone’s request, try to ease the burden by suggesting other dates which would work for both your member of staff and your practice. Alternatively, if you’re denying the leave because someone else has already requested it, consider asking the member of staff who requested it first if they could be flexible and change their dates to accommodate the other employee.
It’s always a good idea to have your vacation conditions listed in a policy manual. This way, if you have no other choice but to deny someone’s vacation request, you can show them the section in the manual which explains why you’re saying no and that the member of staff previously agreed to the conditions.
Hire temporary staff
No one wants to tell someone they can’t watch their child perform in their first ever school play or that they can’t spend the holidays with their family. A great alternative to denying your staff’s request for leave is to hire temporary staff to fill their place.
From temporary dental assistants to temporary dental hygienists, hiring temp staff is the perfect way to let your employees have a much-deserved break without having to close your practice and disappoint patients. With Cloud Dentistry, you can hire temp dental staff for the exact hours and days you need them — that’s perfect for filling in for staff attending school performances or family gatherings.
How to boost productivity
With pre-party teeth whitenings and last-minute appointments for unforeseen events, dental staff burnout can seem inevitable during the holiday season. But there are some steps you can take so your staff enjoy the holidays without hurting your business.
Acknowledge a job well done
Showing your staff you appreciate them by congratulating them when they do a great job is one of the best ways to build an excellent dental team. It’s also a fantastic way of boosting morale and encouraging staff to continue giving their job their all as the year comes to a close.
When employees are feeling tired and overworked at the end of the year, they’re more likely to forget how important they are in your dental practice’s success and run the risk of disengaging from their work as a result. Make it a priority to praise your staff and let them know how important they are whenever possible.
Reward with end of year bonuses
As well as verbal recognition, another wonderful way of showing your staff how much you value them is to reward them with end of year bonuses. These annual bonuses are typically structured according to employee salary or how well they’ve met workplace goals. But however you decide to reward your staff is entirely up to you. It doesn’t have to be a cash bonus — it could be additional paid days off in the following year, gifts or pre-paid days out.
While cash is always appreciated at this expensive time of year, your staff will definitely appreciate it if you take the time to choose them a thoughtful gift you’ve carefully picked out just for them. It’s important you let your staff know if they’re going to receive an alternative to a monetary bonus at the end of the year. If they’re expecting cash, some people will overspend, assuming their bonus will make up for it.
With proper planning, it is possible to handle the sensitive staff issues which arise at the end of the year when you run a dental practice without experiencing any dip in productivity or disappointing your patients. If you can show your employees that they’re truly valued and you can accommodate personal needs during this particularly hectic time of year, your dental practice is much more likely to start January off on the right foot.
This is part 2/2 of our series on "Your dental practice during the holidays". Part 1/2 "These dental practice holidays ideas will make your staff happy" can be found here.