Unless you’ve been extremely lucky, your practice has likely suffered with our new employment reality called the Great Resignation. Or perhaps you’ve retained team members, but they seem to be displaying the characteristics of another new term, Quiet Quitting. In this article we’ll identify 5 reasons your employees may quit your practice or think about leaving and what you can do to stop the flow.
The Top 5 Reasons
Recent studies by Pew, Gallup, Hays and Harvard Business Review identify 5 main reasons why employees leave. The good news is that you can control 4 of these reasons. The bad news is that you may need to change the way you behave as a supervisor. Still, because replacing an employee can be financially expensive (typically it costs you up to 2X that person’s salary) and can disrupt your practice for months, it’s worthwhile to improve your practice’s culture to retain good team members.
Employees leave when:
- They feel under-appreciated and undervalued. If you employee the “millennial” generation, 76% of them will leave a job for this reason. Many millennials will demand raises as a way to fulfill their need and desire for personal recognition.
- The office has a poor culture. Work relationships and how you feel at work is so critical that 71% of people surveyed would trade a lower paying position for a better culture. If your practice is filled with tension and stress, your best employees will leave for greener pastures.
- They have a strained or distant relationship with the boss. Your relationship with your employees is crucial and yet many dentists only pay attention to employees when there is a problem. This factor is entirely within your control to change and can generate huge benefits.
- They want a better work/life balance or fulfill life goals like maternity, going back to school or a shorter commute. You can’t control this factor but you can develop a practice culture where employees are inspired to stay because they are learning valuable skills or meeting some of their life goals.
- Employees feel burnt-out. You will create burnt out employees if the above 4 reasons aren’t addressed.
How to Retain Good Employees
If those were the reasons employees leave, then let’s look at how you can do the opposite. Here are two tips that can make the biggest difference.
Tip 1: Express appreciation in the language they value.
Saying “thank you” or “good job” are nice gestures but they aren’t meaningful expressions of appreciation or recognition. If you’ve read The Five Love Languages, then you’re familiar with the idea that individuals express and receive appreciation in different ways. It’s important to recognize that if your employee values “words of appreciation,” then your “act of service” isn’t going to register to them as appreciation. You need to identify what language your employee speaks and then appreciate them in a way they will find meaningful.
Individualized appreciation and recognition have to be woven into the practice culture. If most of your feedback is corrective then your employees will perceive you as a fault finder. A good goal would be to offer reinforcing vs change oriented feedback in a 3:1 ratio.
Tip 2: Establish relationships with each team member
By far, this is the most important tip because it’s still true that people don’t leave organizations, they leave their bosses. Want to know something scary and revealing? Some dentists I work with have such a revolving door of employees, they don’t remember the name of their newest hire. Other dentists outsource their employee relationships to their office manager. In those cases, it’s the office manager who leads performance appraisals, who knows about employee’s personal lives and who celebrates, commiserates or problem-solves with the employee. This results in zero loyalty to the dentist and employees who can easily resign without a backwards glance.
Look, the truth is that your employees’ level of motivation will match your level of investment in them.
This can be your look-in-the-mirror moment. If you spend more time with new patients than with employees, you’re vulnerable to employee turnover.
How to Build Employee Relationships
An easy way to connect with team members is to reserve one lunch each week to take an employee out to eat. And during lunch, ask these questions:
- How are you doing/feeling at work?
- How can I support you?
- What have you been struggling with?
- What do you feel proud of having accomplished?
- What ideas do you have about how we can do things better?
- What would you like to learn?
- Is there anything happening in your personal life that’s affecting you at work?
These questions and your genuine desire to know and support your employee can generate numerous benefits.