As the confirmed cases of COVID-19 rises, healthcare workers, including dental professionals, are becoming more and more paranoid. Morale is fast dwindling as many fear for their lives. “We are right on the front line — in the mouth, working with the bacteria that spread COVID,” said Tahita Ross, a dental hygienist who practices in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Besides, some are overwhelmed with the sudden changes to their regular work routine. Warnings of contracting the virus are becoming more insistent, especially for the elderly staff. The alarmists, on the other hand, are having a field day. To some extent, the amount of sad news streaming on our televisions and social media channels rivals the good.
And the reality is, dental offices can’t cease operating so that the employees can stay at home. Not anymore, considering they have reopened recently. More so, remote work isn’t a possibility for the dental industry. Thus, employees have to report to work as usual despite the risks involved.
Don’t be a stick in the mud: allow fun in your office
What are you doing to reduce panic and boost your dental team’s morale during this pandemic? The big question now is, are your employees happy working for you? Is your office fun to work in? Or you are one of those dental practice owners who believe that all work and no play is the way to go?
What fun ideas can you encourage them to participate in to relieve the current tension? According to Bob Pike, the famous author of The Fun Minute Manager, an exciting or fun work environment is one in which all office activities are designed to uplift workers’ spirit.
Here’s a bunch of fun and engaging ideas you can try implementing in your dental office to liven up their spirit:
Turn up the music
When not experiencing heavy patient traffic, try turning up the music. Music can quickly shift our moods and lessen the tension around us. Perk your dental team by creating a playlist featuring every member’s favorite tune(s). Here are some cool office playlist ideas you may want to start with.
Alternatively, check out this video of healthcare workers dancing to Beyoncé’s single ladies in the office. Can your team replicate that? What about dancing to “Quédate en casa” (Stay at home) better than the staff of Barcelona-based Hospital, Sant Joan de Déu? Who knows, perhaps a burst of such fresh tunes can even spur an unprompted office dance party!
WhatsApp fun, ridiculousness, and COVID-free
It is high time you encourage your team to form an only fun-dedicated WhatsApp group if they haven’t done so by now. Your team can have at least one group conversation daily with prompts to get them going. They can send prompts such as “what is the meaning of your first name?” or “send a photo of your pet, and tell us why it’s important to you,” and encourage every member to share responses.
There shouldn’t be any limit to their responses. The answers can be personal, vulnerable, and funny. This is a remarkable way for employees to learn more about each other and remain connected during these trying times.
Remember, they can also use this group to send photos of their work anniversary celebrations, birthday celebrations, or snapshots of their off days (especially mini-tours of home life!).
The group administrator should ensure this channel is free of COVID-19 news. Crucial and official information can be shared on other work-dedicated channels, such as email, Slack, or Zoom. Allow this group to be silly, fun, positive, and team-focused.
Instagram and TikTok challenge: try a current social trend
Social media trends = a sea of inspiration and fun. Being receptive to these opportunities allows your staff to do something different and exciting while stepping outside of your dental practice’s comfort zone. Better yet, encourage them to share these challenges on their social media channels.
For instance, persuade your team to do their version of “Oh na na na” foot-dance challenge, which became a type of greeting for some hospital staff. Here is the second video of two medical staff doing the same challenge. Remember, no hands are involved, making this challenge relevant, practical, and fun.
Below are other challenges healthcare workers have been sharing on social media during this COVID-19 period. Your team can replicate these or come up with their unique trends:
- These nurses shared on TikTok dancing the #coronaviruschallenge to begin their day positively.
- Team AMU from County Hospital shared a dance video on Twitter, and they seemed to have fun despite the hard time they are going through.
- Dr. Jason L. Campbell, a doctor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Hospital who has also been labeled as the “TikTok Doc” dances in hospital corridors and presents a reprieve during COVID-19 pandemic
You can also encourage your team to follow the following social media channels to lighten up their days. These pages only cover humor related to the dental industry.
- On Pinterest, they can laugh at the funny images and memes shared on these links: Dr. Robert Page, Dental Just Fun, Dental Humor, Dentist Humor, Dental Memes (Fun and engaging memes in Dental Assisting).
- Funny Instagram pages your team can follow — @DentistryHumor, @DentalArtHumor, @MondayBites, @Dental.Humor, @DentJokes @Fezojcartoons.
- Humorous Facebook pages dental professionals can follow — @FunnyDentistry, @DentistryMemesUncensored, @dentalarthumor, @DentalHumor @DentistryHumor
Build a “wall of fame” for your employees
What a better way to appreciate your dental team’s achievements during this pandemic, than putting them on full display? Set aside a place in the reception area as the “Wall of fame.” Encourage every employee in your practice to contribute. Let them share thank you notes from patients, local press clippings, awards (serious or funny) — or anything that you deem fit. This fun space dedicated to positivity will, without a doubt, motivate the members to remain steadfast and deliver their best.
Tell some jokes
While this may not be everyone’s strong area, some members may love that kind of stuff. Laughter defuses tension. Allocate some time once per week when employees can share jokes amongst themselves.
Who can narrate the funniest thing that ever occurred to them? Who can come up with the most comic patient story? Have the rest of the team members vote for the most entertaining one. Shake things up a little.
Members can even search on the internet for hilarious dental jokes and share them with their colleagues. You can set the pace by directing them to these compilations of dental jokes:
- 20 Funny Dentist Jokes
- Dentistry @ its finest
- Dental jokes and comics to crack you up
- Dental jokes to think back on
- Quick, funny Dentist and Hygienist jokes
- Dental Hygienist Jokes
Allow for flexibility, and use your team’s needs as your guide
Of course, dental professionals can’t work remotely, but they can be flexible in other ways. Try staggering schedules so that your staff can work different hours (like 9-5, 8-4, Weekends, or evenings) to fit with their personal lives and needs.
Be as accommodating as possible when members need time off to see their kids, go for doctor’s appointments, etc. Giving employees the chance to work when it’s convenient for them, especially now, can spur some excitement in the office and prevent burnout.
Note; if you need temp employees to cover up for absentees, consider using a real-time staffing platform like Cloud Dentistry. Before Cloud Dentistry, dental practices relied on expensive and cumbersome temp agencies. However, this platform eliminated the need for these middlemen and has put dentists and dental practice owners directly in control.
You can quickly get peer-reviewed and ready to work hygienists, dental assistants, and receptionists from this cloud-based platform. A few clicks on the mouse is all that you need to book an employee for urgent work assignments.
Fun, fun, fun! It’s time to turn things around
Studies have shown that when workplaces make fun part of their norm, it creates happier staff that feels more content. And a happy dental team is all around better at their roles.
Most importantly, humans are social creatures that need a bit of fun to manage daily life stressors. Even the American Psychological Association attests that occupation stress costs American employers about $300 billion annually due to illness, productivity, and absenteeism. If that is not a great justification for having fun at your dental office, then we don't know what it is!