Team longevity and stress

May 1, 2006
Over the past 15 years, we have studied stress control as it relates to the dental profession.

Over the past 15 years, we have studied stress control as it relates to the dental profession. It has been our goal to introduce and support communication, management, and personnel systems that provide “preventive management” - management that leads not only to productivity and profitability but also to stress control.

In our research of more than 3,000 dental professionals, “challenges with team members” was rated as the number one source of stress. One thing that leads to this stress is turnover. The cost of hiring and training, the energy that is exuded during this process, and the time it takes for a new person to get “up to speed” are financially, emotionally, and physically challenging. That’s why keeping quality team members on board is a desirable goal.

Longevity - how?

What does it take to develop longevity with personnel? What does it take to keep team members happy? Is this the responsibility of the leader/owner? We believe it is. The connection between happiness and longevity in the workplace has been studied and continues to be studied because of its relevance to the health and well-being of an organization and its members.

Aristotle studied human happiness more than 2,000 years ago. He determined that “happiness” is the ultimate goal of human beings. He wrote about “the balance of life” and the critical factors related to that balance: love, work, worship, and play. Dr. L.D. Pankey brought Aristotle’s philosophy to dentistry when he outlined the “Cross of Life” using these same four factors.

No one will ever be in perfect balance. That is an illusion. However, striving toward that balance brings a person closer to fulfillment and happiness. The definition of happiness is an elusive one. What brings happiness to one person may not bring happiness to another. Philosophers have long believed that even though there is no one definition of happiness, people recognize the times in which they are more satisfied, content, and joyful than others. Aristotle called this the “summum bonum” - the “chief good.” This is what people are seeking in the workplace.

Does this apply to your practice, your business, your team, and to their longevity with your practice? We think so. If people are going to come to you, work productively with you, and stay with you, they need to be happy. Your leadership will determine whether or not people thrive and survive in your environment.

Dr. Marvin Seligman, in his studies, defines three components of happiness. One is engagement: the depth of involvement with one’s family, work, romance, and hobbies. The second is meaning: using personal strengths to serve some larger end. The third is pleasure.

Unfortunately, many people in today’s society work because they “have to” and feel that work is a “necessary evil.” Many people get up every day, fight traffic and other challenges, and go to work with a grudge while wishing they were anywhere else.

However, happiness and work can be intertwined.

What brings happiness to the workplace or to the people on the team? What leads to longevity? Refer to Cathy’s column in the September 2005 issue of Dental Economics®, where she outlines things that do and do not work in the area of motivation in the workplace. Give yourself a brief quiz and ask yourself, honestly, if you are doing things that work or things that don’t work. Make changes where appropriate.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, director of The Quality of Life Research Center in Claremont, Calif., determined in his research that a business and business leader cannot depend on material inducements alone. “Money, security, and comfort may be necessary to make us happy,” says Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, “but they are definitely not sufficient. A person must also feel that his or her talents are fully employed, that he or she is able to develop potentialities, and that everyday life is not stressful or boring.” He adds, “A good life consists of more than simply the totality of enjoyable experiences. It must also have a meaningful pattern, a trajectory of growth, and social complexity.”

In summary

Longevity in the workplace is based on happiness. Consider the aspects of happiness and begin the path of improvement by analyzing your situation. Your leadership in creating and maintaining an environment that nurtures happiness will prove to be one of the most productive things you ever do!

Jameson Management Inc. is an international lecture and consulting firm providing instruction and coaching in four vital areas of practice development: communication, business, hygiene and clinical efficiency, and technology. For further information on how to take your practice to the next level, contact JMI at (877) 369-5558 or visit the company’s Web site at

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