Home 2024 Sleep Dentistry Issue High Trust Relationships REDUCE Team Turnover

High Trust Relationships REDUCE Team Turnover

by Judy Kay Mausolf

Conquering challenges builds high trust relationships

Team turnover has reached epidemic levels, significantly reducing expectations for long-term commitment. Institutions often teach that job hopping is the best way to climb the career ladder. However, research shows that higher job satisfaction stems from high trust, long-term work relationships. High trust in these relationships lessens team turnover.

As someone who works with dental teams nationwide, I’ve noticed that turnover has increased, often for trivial reasons. Employees seem to put little effort into improving and investing in the culture, preferring instead to find a new job and move on. The problem is the same issues will continue unless we invest in the relationship and focus on resolution.

Often, false assumptions end relationships. The uncomfortable conversations needed to avoid assumptions and resolve conflicts aren’t happening. I love the quote: “Short-term discomfort avoids long-term dysfunction!”

High-functioning relationships are based on high trust, developed from a commitment to invest in the relationship even when things are tough. It’s the belief that the other person has your back and that you’re in it for the long haul. Imagine a marriage where the first disagreement results in a threat of divorce. How much confidence would you have in that relationship? A disagreement where a team member threatens to leave the practice or is threatened to be let go is very similar.

I’ve been happily married to my husband, Steve, for over 28 years. We have a high trust relationship because we committed to investing in it, even when times get tough. Investing means honoring, respecting, and committing to the other person. Resolving difficult situations fosters confidence and high trust.

So why invest in the relationship? Here are a few benefits for both employers and employees:

  • High trust relationships within the team
  • High trust relationships with patients
  • Highly skilled team
  • Maximized compensation packages
  • A sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves
  • Ownership, value, and purpose from long-term investment
  • High job satisfaction
  • Minimal team turnover stress and expense

Every time an employee leaves your practice, for any reason, it’s called a turnover. You can calculate your annual employee turnover percentage by dividing the annual turnover number by the total number of team members. Losing just one mid-level employee, paid $30 per hour and working 32 hours per week (annual salary of $49,920), can cost your practice anywhere from $24,960 to $99,840 in recruiting and training expenses. This cost isn’t a separate line item on the P&L, but trust me, it’s there—hidden in reduced production and collection numbers.

Patients come to your dental office expecting to see familiar faces. They often build stronger relationships with the team than with the doctor because they spend more time getting to know them. Patients often look to team members to reinforce the necessity of treatment. If you doubt this, ask your clinical and non-clinical team if they’ve ever been asked by a patient, “Do I really need this treatment?” or “Would you do this treatment?” High turnover results in declining trust and case acceptance.

Most dental practices don’t have spare team members waiting to pick up the slack. This means an existing team member must spend a large portion of their time training the new team member, often while already working at capacity. Few practices adjust their scheduling to accommodate the training process, creating a culture of high stress, low morale, and subpar performance. In practices with consistent turnover, there’s little desire to train new team members. The mindset I often encounter is, “Why bother? They’ll just leave soon anyway.” Even a high-performing culture is vulnerable to turmoil from turnover.

Here are some ways for employers to invest in long-term relationships:

  • Interview and Vet Thoroughly: Assess applicants for character traits, attitude, skill sets, and fit with the practice culture, managers, and co-workers.
  • Set Competitive Compensation: Offer comparable compensation and benefits with industry standards. Review packages at least annually.
  • Treat Your Team Well: Treat your team as well as you treat your patients.
  • Establish Clear Standards: Maintain consistent standards for the entire team.
  • Promote Open Communication: Create opportunities for open discussion with consistent daily huddles and regular team meetings.
  • Show Respect and Recognition: Awards, recognition, and praise might be the most cost-effective way to maintain a happy, healthy, and high-performing practice culture.
  • Maintain Realistic Schedules: Ensure work schedules are based on current employee coverage.
  • Foster a Positive Culture: Create an environment with room to learn and grow.
  • Keep Employees Informed: Keep employees in the loop about future growth and how they can achieve it. Conduct annual reviews or midyear check-ins and encourage workers to come to you with career questions and goals throughout the year.

Investing in long-term relationships will reap long-term happiness and success!

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