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    Is it time to talk with your boss about compensation?

    With a new tax act passed by the government, now is the time to speak with your boss about a possible raise or promotion.

    With the new tax act passed by Congress, opportunities have arisen, according to  politicians, for all employees in every field of endeavor to have additional compensation of some kind. A promotion may also be in the works for all employees, which typically is combined with increased compensation on a current or deferred nature. The reason is that employers are supposed to have additional cash flow, even if the revenue and expenses of the employers have remained the same. The secret is that the new tax act has supposedly reduced the tax rate for most employers.

    Dentistry may be an exception, but only based on a high net income of the particular dentist. Each hygienist has a legitimate basis for speaking to the dentist based on fact and not speculation about why an increase in compensation or a promotion in terms of responsibility should be extended to him or her. Being prepared is an important step in recognition of the dentist’s time constraints. The conversation will be about what’s actually occurring without any excuse that the dentist can give other than his or her income being so high that the qualifications for the extra cash flow don’t pass through to this particular employer. A good approach can be that a promotion or some type of non-taxable compensation may be in order at this time or at least at a defined moment in the future.  

    Read more: Survey reveals 48 percent of hygienists don't feel adequately compensated

    Don’t make demands

    Of course the timing is never right to confront the dentist with any type of demand. Understanding the hygienist’s role in the dental practice is an important consideration. If a hygienist attempts to assist the dentist when requesting an increase in some type of compensation, it will go a long way toward having the dentist feel that there’s a sympathetic understanding of his or her problems as well. A soft approach, but one that’s factual and prepared, is the best way to do this for hygienists. Ideas that may be given about how to give the increase will also assist the dentist in appreciating the time taken by the hygienist to learn about some points that the dentist may be missing in helping the hygiene department prepare for their futures while also aiding the dentist’s long-term financial and personnel planning.

    Sometimes a dentist will defer to his or her office manager to handle all employee decisions, so there’s a buffer between the dentist and the employee. A smart hygienist will request a direct approach and let the office manager know that it’s not a personal affront but this conference will be direct and not take the practice away from the goal of helping the patient to good oral health and the dentist to more profitability with increased morale for the staff.

    Learn from researching

    Hygienist compensationBesides knowing terrific clinical skills, hygienists also may take courses in finance or meet with a dental CPA to learn more about what the dentist may or may not know about the financial world. Many dentists take courses to improve their knowledge of not just the clinical world but also the financial world. A hygienist who’s prepared by understanding a little bit about financial issues will make the dentist appreciate the particular hygienist who has done a lot of homework. Going to work with the skill set that hygienists have takes a lot of education and experience. The better the education, the more the hygienist is prepared to understand the language of the dentist when it comes to finances as well as clinical issues. Speaking with friends who are hygienists in other dental practices assists both hygienists to learn more about what they already possess and about what they don’t. Having the dentist pay for courses on finance is a method of getting tax-free compensation that improves the communication between the dentist and the hygienist.

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    Some ideas that the hygienist can learn about include but aren’t limited to deferred compensation, such as an employer qualified retirement plan. Learning about the types of plans that are available may assist the dentist as well if he or she doesn’t currently have such a plan. Understanding the cost and the benefit for the dentist as well as for the hygienist will allow the hygienist to speak to the dentist about good short-term and long-term strategies for increasing the dental practice value as well as its non-taxable income. The dentist will appreciate the input if he or she is really a value-oriented person. Instead of going to work, doing a good job, which is expected, and then going home, the hygienist will look to be more involved with the practice as a whole and a forward-thinking dentist will appreciate the input without being threatened.

    Bruce Bryen, CPA, CVA
    Bruce Bryen is a certified public accountant with over 40 years of experience and is a part of RKG Tax & Business Services LLP, an ...

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