Employee Retention: Engage Your Employees from the Start to Keep Them Long-Term

It's HR Tuesday! | Powered By: CEDR HR Solutions

Hiring and turnover are always popular HR topics but, now more than ever, questions about turnover, employee retention, and hiring are flooding into CEDR’s HR Solution Center … Opens in a new window to CEDR’s HR Solution Center website… from private practice owners and dental office managers at an accelerated rate.

You already know that employees are quitting their jobs in record numbers.

But, since the vast majority of the newly unemployed are going to have to eventually land somewhere, the “Great Resignation” can really be thought of as a “Great Job Hop”.

The trick is to make sure your practice is ready to attract and employ the best of those people and keep them on your team long-term.

Turnover is expensive. Estimates for the cost of replacing an employee suggest that employers should expect to spend at least 33 percent … Opens in a new window to SHRM website… of an employee’s salary to replace them when they go.

This means the cost to replace an employee at your practice will likely come in above the $10,000 mark for any position and much more for highly specialized roles.

Of course, turnover has always been an inevitable part of running a dental practice. But there are some things you can do as a manager to minimize turnover at your practice.

It all comes down to engagement, and keeping employees engaged in the long term all starts on your employee’s first day of work. Here are a few tips:

Make expectations clear from the start.

No matter how much experience someone has working in the dental industry, starting a new job is stressful.

New employees have to adjust to an unfamiliar environment, learn about their practice’s SOPs, and figure out how to navigate the social landscape of their new workplace.

Where you can’t prevent all of the stress associated with this transition, you can eliminate any discomfort that might come from not knowing what is expected of your employees from a job duties … Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… and company culture… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… perspective.

Have new employees review and sign their job descriptions.

Employees thrive when the expectations you and your doctor have for them are clear.

A good job description… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… outlines what your practice expects from an employee in their role including job duties, physical requirements, educational and licensing requirements, standards of performance, as well as expectations for demeanor and culture, and communication skills.

Having your new employees read and sign the job description for their position… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… during the onboarding process ensures that they are clear on the expectations for their role and gives them the chance to ask any questions they may have about those expectations.

What’s more, having a signed job description on hand can provide legal protections for your practice should you need to terminate later.

If you’re wondering what a professionally crafted job description looks like, download sample job descriptions for front desk and dental assistant positions from the HR experts at CEDR here.… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website…

Have new employees review and sign your employee handbook.

A well-written and legally compliant employee handbook… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… will provide a ton of important information for your new employee that will help them understand what it’s like to work for your practice.

This includes introducing them to your company culture… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… explaining your office policies on topics like dress code and time off, outlining standards of professionalism and appearance, and much, much more.

Giving your employees time to review this document in its entirety on their first day will provide them with a solid introduction to the way your practice operates.

It will also help them understand where to and how to find answers to policy questions on their own later, and provide clarity about what it’s like to work as an employee of your practice.

Having them sign your handbook not only illustrates that the employee has read and understood that document, but it can also provide your business with important legal protections… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… .

Find a handy checklist that makes onboarding a breeze in CEDR’s free Hiring Guide… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… .

Stay tuned in to your employees’ wants and needs.

Now let’s talk about how to keep great employees engaged after they’ve been onboarded.

It’s true that sometimes employees do leave a job for a higher paying one or for better benefits, but a study by Gallup… Opens in a new window to Gallup website… suggests that employees would need a full 20 percent pay increase to pull them away from a workplace that engages them and little to nothing to entice them to leave a position in which they feel disengaged.

Keeping your employees engaged in their work is less about money… Opens in a new window to Gallup website… and more about developing quality human relationships in the workplace.

Employees will often send you signals to let you know when their engagement is trending downward.

Unhappy employees are disengaged, and disengaged employees are the ones whose once-good performance is slipping, who are showing signs of frustration, are becoming cynical, or appear hopeless or defeated.

Staying in tune with your employees’ personal and professional needs can help you get an employee who may have been on her way out back on track, which could save you the headaches associated with having to replace that employee if they ultimately decided to leave.

As managers, it’s not our job to solve every little problem. That said, as the world and workforce evolves, so must we.

Hold regular one-on-one meetings with your employees.

Having weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… with your team members is a great way to address performance issues as they arise and coach employees on how to improve… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… .

Not only that, but regular one-on-ones also make it easier to get to know your employees and find out how things are going for them both on the job and in their lives outside of work.

If you hate the idea of corrective coaching or writing people up, one of the best ways to keep people on track is to commit to regular one-on-ones… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… .

When an employee expresses a concern, listen. That kind of information can be an opportunity to make changes or identify areas for improvement.

Knowing how and why your new employee might be struggling, whether at work or in their personal lives, can give you the chance to offer solutions that you may not have even thought you needed to consider.

If an employee resigns, hear them out.

If handled carefully, an employee who catches you off guard by putting in their notice to resign may not actually be at the end of their rope.

Hold a meeting to find out what made them want to leave and see if there is anything you can do to convince them to stay.

Would a short leave of absence be enough to think over their decision and rest up before getting back to work? An accelerated raise? Or perhaps a modified schedule would help relieve enough stress for an employee to want to stick around.

If so, it might be worth working with the employee, if possible, rather than finding yourself short-staffed and in need of a new hire.

If an employee is leaving for more pay, better benefits, or for some other work-related reason, taking the time to understand their “why” can be valuable.

When an employee is intent on leaving, be respectful of their decision and treat them with as much kindness as you can muster.

After all, the rest of your team will be watching as this process plays out.

We also recommend that you provide them with an exit interview form… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… to see if there is anything you can learn about your business from their departure that might help you hold onto the employees that are still around.


Turnover is part of running a private practice, and sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent an employee from resigning.

But, by engaging with your employees regularly and directly, tuning into their needs in a balanced way that also serves your practice, and working with them to develop meaningful relationships with you as a manager and with your practice in general, you can have a direct impact on your practice’s ability to keep employees on your team for the long haul.

And all of that adds up to more money for your practice and a better working environment for your entire team.


Have questions about hiring, retention, or employee engagement at your practice? Contact CEDR HR Solutions… Opens in a new window to CEDR HR Solution website… or crowd-sourced answers from more than 9000 of your peers in our private, professional Facebook Group, HR Base Camp… Opens in a new window to HR Base Camp .

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