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    Are you satisfied with the status quo?

    Tips to change your practice from boring to fun.

    How bored are you at work? Let’s get honest here. Is time dragging so slowly that watching the clock is a new habit? Do you wish you could have some fun with your colleagues and patients, but don’t quite know how to get there? Change comes from the top down. Your dentist is the one who needs to get the ball rolling.

    Here it comes–the cynical dentist, “But Lisa, I don’t have time for something as ridiculous as having fun in the workplace. I have patients to see.” True, but your customers include your employees. Is your team working together? Don’t you think it is important to have a healthy workplace where employees enjoy their jobs? It makes sense that working someplace where you can laugh decreases turnover.

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    Maybe you aren’t ready for this reality check. Perhaps you want to continue doing the same old same old. But that just isn’t smart business. Look around at other industries. Companies have retreats, holiday parties and volunteering together. It builds a more cohesive team when you laugh together and can get away from the stressors of work.                                                                                                                     

    Dentists, what can you do to change the culture in your office?

    1. Get to know your employees better. Have lunch with them. Ask them about their lives and their weekends. Stop and make the time to connect with them. Don’t just do lip service. Truly listen to them and be interested in their lives.

    2. Share something personal about yourself. Funny things happen all the time. Show that you are human and can laugh with your subordinates.

    3. Set up a competition. Perhaps incentivize a wellness program or a drawing for $25 for those who work out five times in a week.

    4. Have a potluck afterwork or at lunchtime. Breaking bread with your work family is a good thing to do. Just don’t talk about work. Have a cookoff.

    5. Hold a strategic planning session with your staff as to how to change the culture in the office. Bring in an outside consultant to facilitate the meeting if that is more effective. Do not have management attend this planning session. Staff is more comfortable brainstorming without fear of retribution if they speak honestly.

    6. Laugh and joke with your patients and staff more. It may feel awkward, but it will leave a lasting message that it is ok to have fun at work.

    7. Look for funny dental comics, articles, or objects to leave around the office. Leave toys in the breakroom that staff can play with.

    8. Take goofy pictures of your staff and post them in your office. One idea is to have baby pictures in the waiting room and have your staff and patients guess who the employee is.

    The key is to take a look at yourself and decide if you really want to make these changes. Everyone benefits if the work culture is healthy. Find the queen bee in your practice who can help you to make some changes. This is the person that is well respected and has status with your employees. Also, identify who the tyrant is in your practice, and do something about it. Managers are in a rough spot. They must make sure the business runs smoothly. But, if they are functioning only as a drill sergeant, that can be a problem.

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    Quite often I get letters from employees who say there are some strong personalities in their workplace and don’t know how to handle them. Finding ways to make them laugh is a good strategy. Laughter heals a lot of things. It can pull you out of a funky mood. And, let’s face it, it can just be plain old fun. Me personally, I want to laugh. I want to enjoy myself with other people around. I want my days to pass doing meaningful work and enjoying the people I work with. What about you? Do you want to laugh at work or just be serious? That is up to you. But, if you are open to change, look at the bigger picture. If your staff enjoys coming to work, they are less likely to jump ship. That alone helps morale. Don’t you owe it to your employees to embrace change and to create a more entertaining work environment?

    Email me at [email protected] and share with me what you do to make it more fun at your workplace.

    Lisa Newburger, LISW-S
    Lisa Newburger, a master's level social worker supervisor, helps audiences find humor in talking about tough topics. Her "in-your-face" ...

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