Staffing Problems? Here are 3 tips and tricks to help you find quality team members

It is more important than ever to understand that the methods you use to fill vacancies on your team can make or break your business.

Are you struggling to find staff? Take it from me, one bright-eyed millennial who’s held positions in many dental practices across the country: you’re probably doing it all wrong. At a time when the pandemic shifted our ecosystem and quality team members —or even warm bodies—are very difficult to find, it’s more important than ever to understand that the methods you use to fill vacancies on your team can quite literally make or break your business.

How do you ensure the team members you’re interviewing are quality, committed, and will build trusting relationships with your patients? How do you know they will stick around long enough to make the hire worthwhile? Can you accurately predict how the addition of new team members will affect the group dynamic?

The bottom line is you can’t know for sure how 1 person will affect the team or your bottom line, but what you can do is set yourself up for success by building an environment that plays to your team’s strengths, and emphasizes culture, transparency, and systems and processes.

It's easy to thank COVID-19 for the staffing changes and shortages dentistry is experiencing, but the truth is dentistry was already in line to experience several other significant shifts. Most notably, a generational shift now places transparency, convenience, and flexibility as high priorities for both our patients and team members. A change in practice ownership has been predicted for quite some time due to an increase in women graduating from dental school as well as increasing DSO, corporate, and private equity ownership. Lastly, innovations in technology have taken dentistry to new frontiers with virtual care, mobile delivery, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and more!

As business owners, we face risk in every decision we make, especially during periods of industry-wide change. Regarding sustainable dental practices, we now understand that it is the dental organizations embracing these industry-wide paradigm shifts who will find the most success in attracting—and retaining—quality team members.

Throughout my own career, I’ve worked clinically for many dental practices throughout the country, and I’ve also had the privilege of working with dental practices to improve their search for their next team member. With the current paradigm shift taking place, we must adapt our methods of finding and retaining staff. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

In-person visibility. Gone are the days of listing one cookie-cutter post on social media or—let’s face it— As with many things in a mobile society, you must go where the team members are. While the majority of younger generations prefer virtual networking, you will still find a select group of them who understand the value of in-person networking. Find out where these dental professionals are spending time and plan accordingly. Perhaps this means regularly purchasing an exhibitor booth at your local dental conference or spending time giving back at the local volunteer community event. Wherever you go in your community, use those opportunities as potential recruitment tools for both immediate and future needs. The bottom line? Always be searching for your next team member, whether or not the position is available.

Virtual visibility. When it comes to social media, you don’t always get what you pay for. In fact, with a few strategic moves your staffing needs can land right where you want them. First, narrow down where you will be advertising your vacancy. My advice? Use it all—find several reputable social media groups and use your practice’s social media accounts to spread the word. Next, focus on your messaging. Grab a great informal photo of your team, a catchy heading, and a few team member reviews, and have your team get to work posting, pushing, sharing, tagging, and reposting.

The power of a photo. In a world where you have 2-4 seconds to catch someone’s eye, a single photo of your team can make more impact than a hundred catchy titles. Why use words when you can cut straight to the point and do so in under 2 seconds? Schedule a fun outing with your team, hire a professional photographer who understands the message, vibe, and company culture you wish to portray… and go make it happen! When you’re forming your social media strategy, remember it isn’t just patients who you are targeting—it is future team members as well. You may be surprised how much of a positive reputation you can build among dental professionals with just a few strategic posts.

Lastly, you don’t have to carry the burden of finding staff on your own. There are reputable nationwide, real-time staffing platforms that will help you carry the burden of finding permanent and temporary staff.

In a time where industry-wide paradigm shifts are taking place and staffing shortages have the potential to decrease your bottom line, it’s time to prioritize new staffing strategies. These strategies will help you set your practice up for success by building an environment that plays to your team’s strengths, and emphasizes culture, transparency, and systems and processes.