Hiring and retaining the right employees is essential for any successful business and is a good measure of the health of a company. A good workforce can boost client satisfaction which in turn lifts morale within a firm.
Many companies invest time and money in training staff, and failing to retain key employees can be costly.
The loss of knowledge, the time required to re-hire and the effect on co-workers can be considerable.
As the population ages, there will be fewer people available for work, making it harder to replace key staff members, particularly for firms who are known to have a high staff turnover. Also, some clients may prefer to deal with the same technicians they know and trust, and might request only they deal with their work.
Hiring the Right Technicians First Time Round
Some fundamentals apply to any potential employee and include good motivation, a genuine interest in dental technology and a positive attitude. Rudimentary skills include good knowledge of occlusion & tooth anatomy and a mastery of dental terminology.
If a recently qualified candidate has a reasonable grasp of the basics, then these can be expanded through continuing education. The duties required should be clearly outlined and there should be a framework within which the employee can further their career.
Another thing to consider is their communication skills, especially if they are applying for a position where they are required to regularly talk to clinicians. Even if this isn’t part of the job description, a successful prosthesis is often the result of a close collaboration between different departments within the dental lab and where good teamwork is essential.
Many lab technicians have considerable autonomy in how they manage their working day, but must be capable of good time management to ensure work is completed on schedule. CAD/CAM technology is becoming more commonplace, especially with the increasing popularity of digital impressions. Nowadays a technician’s computer experience or willingness to learn can be just as important as their artistic skills.
Providing a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Good employees deserve and expect a decent, clean working environment that includes the appropriate safety equipment, air filtration, and air conditioning or good ventilation. While most dental labs expect their employees to be present for a certain number of hours each day, some offer flexitime which can be a valuable perk for employees who are motivated and trustworthy.
Many people appreciate the chance of doing overtime or bonus work but it’s just as important to make sure they aren’t obligated to do too much. This can lead to a decline in standards and potentially the loss of clients. Using a proper scheduling system when booking in the work will ensure adequate time is provided for the completion of each case.
Regular staff meetings help to air any grievances or concerns before they become a significant problem. Providing an environment where employees have the freedom to speak their mind at the appropriate times can help to promote a more positive atmosphere. These meetings are also a good opportunity for brainstorming and for employees to put forward new ideas, so the company is continuously improving and updating its operating practices.
Conduct regular performance reviews, so if problems do arise these can be jointly discussed and resolved. A good working environment is important for achieving a healthy work/life balance. When an employee is unhappy or dissatisfied at work it will inevitably affect their home life and they may feel their only option is to leave.
When someone performs particularly well, or you receive a compliment from a client then be sure to pass it on. Not every manager or dental lab owner will bother to do this but recognising an employee’s good work is important. If the only form of acknowledgement they ever receive is complaints, they are more likely to look around for a new job. A lack of feedback about performance can increase employee dissatisfaction.
Keep a Close Eye on Lab Management
Larger dental labs may well have several managers, each of whom will oversee their department and who are likely to be responsible for quality control.
When employing or promoting lab managers, it’s important to make sure they have the communication skills, temperament and finesse needed to manage people without letting personalities get in the way. Managers should be properly trained and must provide a framework within which an employee can succeed. People will often leave a company due to poor supervision.
Giving Your Technicians Options
Giving your employees options to meet their training requirements will help to expand their skill sets and can increase their satisfaction with their working life. Dental technology has evolved tremendously over the past few years and most technicians want to ensure their skills remain up-to-date. Providing them with the training and equipment will ensure you have a workforce fit for the 21st century and who are engaged and always eager to learn.
During performance reviews, discuss their aims and ambitions for furthering their career and offer guidance and advice on how they can best achieve this within your dental laboratory. Having your support and a specific plan that they can work towards will help increase their loyalty to the lab.
Review Your Benefits Package
Decent employees don’t expect work to be fun all the time, but they do expect a management that will treat them fairly in return for their loyalty. A good benefits package that includes a company pension, a reasonable amount of paid holiday, paid overtime or a good bonus scheme, indemnity insurance and paid CPD will help with long-term employee retention. Providing salary increases that are linked to accomplishments and achievements will help retain good staff.
Some attrition is inevitable, but a pleasant working environment combined with the right opportunities for ambitious and motivated employees will help you build a good team of technicians who work well together and who can help you grow your business. Staff members need to see a business is properly organised and that management has a clear plan for ensuring the firm moves forward, protecting their careers.