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Is your team engaged or complacent?

March 7, 2024
An engaged team is more productive, but how do you identify and boost engagement levels in your practice?

A recent Gallup poll found that only 32% of America’s workforce considers themselves engaged while at work.1 This would indicate that an enormous number of employees are functioning with a complacent (or worse) mentality. If we take this thought all the way to an endpoint, it could mean that most employees are working just for a paycheck. What’s to stop your dental team members from simply seeking another job, often for more money, during this staffing crisis?

The best antidote to a staffing shortage is to keep the team that you have. But is your team engaged?

Leadership skills are elusive, yet crucial

We learn nothing about leadership in dental school. Dentists typically are untrained and uneducated in this critical skill. That didn’t matter when there were lots of people to hire and staff members stayed longer and were easier to replace. Fast forward to our staffing crisis, and we begin to recognize that we have a problem.

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Content Dam De En Articles Print Volume 107 Issue 1 Practice The Top 6 Ways To Amplify Your Team S Engagement In 2017 Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File
Practice Management Software

The top 6 ways to amplify your team's engagement in 2017

Dentists: Increased team engagement needs to be on the top of your resolution list. Jay Geier of the Scheduling Institute explains why.

What creates staff member engagement? One part of the answer is leadership and creating a positive, energizing, and enjoyable culture. Another part of the answer is the job itself. Is the job interesting? Has the staff member grown or been trained in additional responsibilities? Is the staff member aware of the level of appreciation the doctor has for the team?

The days of transactional employment in dentistry are over

Transactional employment is when you hire someone, pay them, and they do a job. Examples of transactional employment are hiring someone to mow your lawn, fix your roof, or shovel your snow. These are people you hire to do a job; they do the job and get paid, but there is no real relationship development. This mindset does not work in a dental practice setting. Team members today want to feel a purpose and want to be appreciated.

Motivation leads to engagement

If you want an engaged team you have to create ongoing motivation and excitement. This can come in the form of new knowledge, new responsibilities, new understanding of measurements or key performance indicators, etc. Motivation and excitement will engage the team and keep them performing at a higher level longer.

And don’t forget about the work environment. More so than ever before, people want to have fun everywhere, including work. Work should be another fun dimension of their lives. When you create fun opportunities the team will respond by having more enjoyment in their work and more engagement.

Why is employee engagement important?

An engaged workforce creates higher performance for any company and the same is true for dental practices. When the team is engaged they are “on” and “in the zone”. Psychologists refer to this as “flow state”, where work time passes by quickly regardless of how hard the work is and we find it tremendously enjoyable. The more you can extend this concept to the team the more engaged they will become, and the better overall performance will be.

There’s no question that an engaged team increases practice production, profit and income while having enjoyment and fun. The great resignation during the pandemic was a wakeup call for all employers, including dental practices, about what staff members really want and what will keep them performing well in their jobs.

The trends are now clear. The staffing crisis is real. Some practices take weeks or months to find a new staff member who may not be as qualified as the team member who left. By focusing on leadership to create engagement in the practice and implementing the recommendations outlined above the practice will have an opportunity to create higher levels of engagement, staff longevity, team performance and practice production.

Editor's note:This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that will elevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field. Subscribe here.


    1. Harter J. Disengagement persists among US employees. Gallup. April 25, 2022. Updated September 11, 2023. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/391922/employee-engagement-slump-continues.aspx
About the Author

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group, has worked with more than 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles, and regularly presents seminars in the US and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].

Updated January 23, 2024

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