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Reduce Dental Employee Turnover with Improved Hiring, Onboarding

Employee termination can be a difficult and sensitive matter. TDIC’s Risk Management analysts counsel that it’s better to mitigate the risks associated with termination with an emphasis on hiring and retaining high quality employees.

It’s rare to meet an employer who has never had to fire an employee. However, employee termination should be the exception in your dental practice, not the rule.

The Dentist’s Insurance Company’s Risk Management Advice Line analysts encourage dentists to invest time and resources to hire the right candidate upfront. Improving your practice’s screening and hiring processes can lead to higher employee retention rates, thereby lowering the costs associated with recruitment, onboarding and training. A careful hiring process also ensures that employees are a good fit for your practice’s culture and values, reducing the likelihood of conflicts that may lead to terminations.

Advice Line analysts offer up the following best practices for finding and hiring quality employees.

Implement Effective Screening Tools

Creating a robust screening process is invaluable when it comes to searching ideal candidates. A carefully composed job description allows an employer to define their expectations, qualifications, necessary experience and education along with explaining key job functions. Not requiring the candidate to fill out a job application is a missed opportunity for filtering out potential bad hires, allowing you to collect information and the applicant’s signed approval for you to check their background and qualifications. When these filters are in place, you essentially refine your pool of candidates to avoid costly and time-consuming hiring mistakes.

Invest in Interviewing

After identifying candidates who can fulfill the duties of the job description and who have accurately portrayed their qualifications, an interview is the next step. Maintain consistency in the questions you ask other candidates applying for the same job as a basis for equitable comparison. It is advisable to ask for a copy of the candidate’s license (RDA, RDH, DDS) so you can verify that the license is in good standing with the state dental board. You can improve the odds of a “good hire” with attention to details and mitigating risks during the interview process.

An Employee Handbook is a Crucial Tool

Minimize risk by documenting your practice’s employment policies within a handbook and making sure all employees are offered training on the practical implementation of and adherence to those policies. An employee handbook is the most effective means of both documenting and communicating employment conditions and expectations. Certain employment laws require employers to notify employees of workplace rights in writing, so a well-developed manual that can be given to employees is a key step to documenting your compliance with federal, state and local employment regulations.

An employee manual also simplifies the performance evaluation and corrective action process, as reference to performance — improved or needed — can be related back to your handbook and your established office policies. TDIC policyholders have access to downloadable sample employee handbooks specific to the state in which they practice.

Performance Evaluations Should Be Routine

By conducting regular performance evaluations, dental practice owners can identify any issues with an employee's performance or behavior early on and address them before they escalate. Regular performance reviews establish the validity of employment decisions, by creating a pattern of communication and documentation related to the employee. A well-defined job description can assist practice owners and managers as a reference when providing performance feedback and, if needed, the development of a performance improvement plan.

Establish Checks and Balances

Within the setting of a dental practice, checks and balances ensure that no one person has absolute control over decisions, clearly define the assigned duties, and force cooperation in completing tasks. They help reduce mistakes and prevent improper behavior in organizations. In the case study above, the terminated hygienist’s unauthorized use of health benefits could have been prevented by a regular check of the office’s plan by two or more employees.

Maintain Personnel Files

A personnel file is just as important as a patient chart. Documentation in a personnel file can provide important supportive data. For example, to show an employee’s discipline history in support of a termination and any subsequent litigation. Include the employee’s signed acknowledgement that they have received, read and understood the employee handbook, as well as copies of performance reviews and improvement plans. It is a good idea to keep certain employee records and information in a confidential file, separate from the personnel file, such as their medical records, Worker’s compensation claims information, their I-9 form and background checks.

Employee termination can be a difficult and sensitive matter. Risk Management analysts agree that it’s better to mitigate the risks associated with termination with an emphasis on hiring and retaining high quality employees. If you are in doubt about any employment practices or need other assistance, contact TDIC’s Risk Management Advice Line for expert guidance.

TDIC’s Risk Management Advice Line is a benefit to TDIC policyholders. To schedule a consultation with an experienced risk management analyst, visit or call 1.877.269.8844.

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