An article in the December 2021 issue of “The Journal of the American Dental Association” (JADA) prompted an “a-ha!” moment when I read that hygienists were the only professionals at the 100th percentile risk of contracting Covid on the job. It made sense, due to occupational hazards such as close personal contact, prolonged exposure to oral aerosols, etc. It’s also been stated that a quarter of practicing dental hygienists decided to leave clinical dentistry entirely.
As a result, the bargaining leverage swung in favor of the dental job candidates, who were making stronger demands before returning to the workforce. These demands not only included money but work-life balance considerations. This contributed to the rapid growth of the dental gig economy.
In order to survive and thrive in the dental gig economy, dental practices need new, more efficient staff hiring options to attract and benefit from the newly-empowered job seeker who now has the luxury of “temping around” until they find their permanent anchor office.
What’s more, in a highly competitive job market, dental practices need to set themselves apart from the office down the block.
This is why practice owners should strongly consider including special perks to attract and retain qualified team members, such as:
- A CE course budget allotment
- Allowing providers to select their preferred hand instruments
- Paying their initial asking rate with a 90-day automatic increase as an incentive to stick around
- Offering generous vacation and sick days
- Guaranteed hours, no punching out due to patient no-shows
- Flex-time to accommodate family obligations, etc.
Backup candidates are also essential. Consider developing a job candidate bullpen or talent bank. You want to do everything possible to avoid staff churn, but you need to keep your backup ready and prepared in case. Otherwise, you’ll experience a negative impact on your scheduling, clinical workflows, patient expectations and profitability.
If dental practice owners think differently about hiring temp and full-time candidates, they can survive and thrive in the new dental gig economy.