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3 ways to create joy in the dental workplace

Jan. 30, 2023
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to work in a dental practice where joy is evident? Here are some ways you can connect with team members and foster a spirit of joy.

It’s been said that happy employees create more productive workplaces. While measuring the overall impact happiness has on production can be difficult, some articles have said that production can be increased by as much as 13%.1 Just think about the benefit if employees experienced not just happiness but joy at work!

Reading that, did you have a somewhat negative knee-jerk gut reaction to the word “joy,” or even the title of this article? Sometimes it can feel like these concepts have gotten so overused or overinflated that they turn people off, so there can often be value in revisiting the true meaning of a word in order to create a space for applying it.

By definition, joy is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; the expression or exhibition of such emotion; a state of happiness or felicity; a source or cause of delight.

Wouldn’t it be great if your employees felt joy because their “well-being, success, or good fortune” is met working with you and their coworkers? Or that employees might feel “a state of happiness” when at work? How would your business’s bottom line be impacted if this were the case? After all, your employees are your “human resource.”

Building a dental practice that sparks joy

Increasing practice activity: An ongoing team effort

When was the last time you said or did something at work simply because it could spark joy in those working with you? If you’re not doing this, you might be losing out on opportunities that could change the people around you—including yourself! You can start by creating these opportunities anytime.

Where’s a great place to start? Watch a presentation by Amanda Gore. She’s an Australian motivational speaker, and she’s wonderful! She’s done several keynotes on the topic of joy in the workplace. Check out her website; she also has a YouTube channel.

What can you do in the meantime? Not all workplaces are the same, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but here are three biggies:

1. Create connection

This can be practice-wide as well as one-on-one. This connection does not always need to be work-related. In fact, getting away from the idea that it must be work, work, work all the time is likely to create joy more quickly. Here are some ideas:

Participate in a fun, off-site activity for everyone.

Take employees out to lunch to be social.

Set aside one morning huddle a week for fun topics and just to enjoy one another’s company.

2. Show appreciation

As with connection, this should be both practice-wide and one-on-one. For appreciation to work best, it should be specific. So avoid generic statements such as “Great job!” Think about what specifically that person did that’s great.

Here are some other ideas:

Set aside one day a week where everyone shows their own individual appreciation of others. These can be big or small actions that helped someone get through the day. For example, “Mary said something that made me laugh, which lightened my day.” Call this time something fun like “You Crushed It Day” or “Grateful Tuesday.”

Find a unique way to show appreciation, maybe even making up a word to do so. Ms. Gore created a word called “zoot” to express love to someone. How fun would it be for your team to make up a fun word to express appreciation of one another and then use it throughout the day?

3. Have fun

Start your morning huddle with a silly (and appropriate) “dad joke.” If you communicate through instant messaging, throw in a funny meme to lighten the message! Maybe allow employees to wear something fun to work, even if it’s just on nonpatient days.

All you’re looking to do here is find ways, every day/week, to lighten the mood, create engagement, and hopefully bring fun to a sometimes hard, stressful workday/week.

Creating joy in the workplace is not hard work. Big or small, there are things everyone can do to foster a more joyful workplace, and the rewards aren’t just for your employees; they’re for you as well. We spend more time at work than anywhere else. Wouldn’t it be great if we all felt more joy when we’re there?  

Editor's note: This article appeared in the January 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.


  1. Happy workers are 13% more productive. University of Oxford. October 24, 2019.
About the Author

Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg

Rebecca Boartfield is HR compliance consultant and Tim Twigg is president of Bent Ericksen & Associates. For more than 30 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resources and personnel issues, helping dentists successfully deal with ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more, call (800) 679-2760 or visit bentericksen.com.

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