How an employee handbook in your dental office makes hiring and firing quick and easy

Last revised: February 25, 2020
Author: Nicola Quinn

No matter how much you don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, you’ve always got to do what’s best for your business. When it comes to firing an employee, having a dental employee office manual goes a long way in making the process fast and simple.

The same is true when it comes to hiring dental staff. While it’s not as emotional as firing, dental hiring has the potential to be a long and expensive process, regardless of whether you’re looking for permanent or temporary staff. When you’re welcoming new employees into your practice, having a dental employee office manual can also be incredibly helpful.

Firing and hiring can be challenging at best, but terminating contracts carefully and following a few best recruitment practices can go a long way to making your dismissing and employing responsibilities quicker, easier and cheaper.

Firing dental staff

Nobody likes to fire an employee. After all, the person on the receiving end is someone you’ve invested time, money and resources in to help them get to where they are today. But sometimes you’ve just got to bite the bullet and get on with it.

Before you call the difficult dental hygienist who always seems to rub people up the wrong way or the excessively absent front-desk manager who is absent more than they’re present into your office, consider taking these basic steps to protect your practice and ensure the firing process goes over smoothly.

1. Have a dental employee office manual

Creating a dental employee office manual and giving a copy to each member of staff (whether they’re a permanent employee who’s been there for years or a temp worker who’s only going to be there a couple of weeks) is one of the best things you can possibly do for your business.

To get the most out of having an employee handbook in your dental office, make sure you include the following:

Here are some more ideas about what you can include in your dental employee office manual.

Write everything in easy-to-understand language and update the manual as often as necessary. Make an additional printed copy (or send a digital copy) each time you hire dental staff and follow up to ensure they’ve read it and see if they have any questions you can answer.

A dental employee office manual like this makes it easy for staff to understand exactly what’s expected of them. It’s also an excellent resource if you bump heads with employees in the future. If you need to fire someone, you can direct them to the part of the manual which covers the rule they’ve broken or expectation they haven’t lived up to and show them the consequences of such an action.

2. Document all staff issues

When it starts to become clear that a member of staff is no longer a good fit for your dental practice, begin documenting all the problems you have with them. Be as clear and as detailed as possible, noting times, dates, actions, conversations and anything else you think could be useful.

It’s always wise to give the person the benefit of the doubt and refer them back to the employee handbook in your dental office. We all have bad days and someone might have made a mistake simply due to forgetfulness.

While all fifty US states recognize at-will employment, you never know what problems will appear when you try to fire a member of staff. Having a clear list of reasons for dismissing an employee will be hugely helpful if you find yourself battling a wrongful termination lawsuit. Detailed documentation of tardies, absences and inappropriate behavior will support you in the event of a dispute.

3. Do it quickly

When the time comes to remove someone from your payroll, follow these steps to get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible:

  1. Invite them into your office
  2. Briefly give them your reasons for dismissal, referring to the dental office employee manual if necessary
  3. Pay them any money they’re due, including severance pay of applicable
  4. Ask them to return any property belonging to you or your dental practice, such as keys
  5. Have them sign the necessary paperwork, confirming the above points
  6. Request them to collect their belongings and leave the building

Alison Green of Ask A Manager gives this advice: “Don’t enter into a debate. Your decision is final, and while you hope the employee understands it, the time for back-and-forth is over.”

If there’s any kind of disturbance on the employee’s part, be sure to remain calm and to avoid escalating the situation. If your concerned the member of staff in question is going to be difficult, ask a superior member of staff to join you in your office to act as a witness for the dismissal and to provide you with some support should you need it.

Hiring dental staff

“I need to take some time off because…

  • ...I have the flu.”
  • ...my son is sick.”
  • …I’m having a baby.”
  • ...I’m getting married.”
  • …I’m going back to school.”

Although they represent the ups and downs of real life, the above words strike fear into the hearts of dental practice owners all over the country.

When an employee tells you they need to step away from the practice to nurture their personal life, you should be sharing a genuine connection with them, being understanding and empathetic to their needs. But regardless of how successful you are at managing your dental office and staff, your mind will likely go into immediate panic mode.

“He’s half my dental hygiene staff. Who will take care of his patients while he’s gone?”

“She’s my best dentist. Where am I going to find a qualified replacement?”

“I need to fill this position ASAP. We can’t afford to cancel or reschedule appointments.”

When most dental office managers need to fill a position quickly so they don’t risk losing business, they often turn to traditional dental temp agencies or dental-career job boards to find temporary dental staff. However, this is an incredibly damaging move that is likely to create more problems for your business than solutions.

Why you must avoid traditional dental temp agencies

As soon as you discover a member of your team needs to take some time out, you need to start finding a replacement for them straight away. But in your hurry to find someone to temporarily fill in, it’s important you don’t rush into anything. If you do, you could soon find yourself sorely regretting it.

If you’re considering using traditional dental temp agencies or dental job boards when you’re next hiring dental staff for your practice, here are just a few reasons why you should slow down, rethink your decision and make the right move for your business.

If you’re looking for more reasons to avoid traditional dental staffing agencies, you’ll find plenty here.

They’re expensive and time-consuming

The main issue with traditional dental hiring boards and dental placement agencies is how much time and money they cost dental practices. Both services demand hours of your time that you likely don’t have to spare.

Regardless of whether you take on the responsibility of dental hiring or you delegate the task to someone else in the practice, the time could be much more effectively spent treating patients or helping grow the business. With temp agencies and job boards, not only do you have to scour through huge numbers of potential staff, but you have to wait for a middleman to pass your messages onto people you’re interested in working with...and then wait for the middleman to pass their responses back to you.

All this pointless waiting could mean it takes you weeks to find a suitable replacement. Cancelled appointments and empty dentist chairs translate into lost income. And when you hire dental staff from a job board or temp agency, you’re at their mercy and can do nothing but wait and hope they eventually get back to you with the response you want.

Not only to job boards and temp agencies cost you a small fortune indirectly by wasting your time, but they also cost you cash directly through pricey markups and hidden fees. These companies make their money by charging extra on top of the worker’s hourly rate. While this markup varies from company to company, it’s usually 12-50% of the worker’s hourly rate. This means dental practice owners are getting terrible value for money and dental professionals aren’t receiving the money they’ve earned through honest work.

Things get worse if you find a temp worker that you want to take on full time. Known as temp-to-perm fees, job boards and temp agencies regularly charge as much as 20-25% of the worker’s first year’s salary when you take on someone you found through their services full-time.

Your brand gets lost in the crowd

When it comes to dental hiring, you want to work with the best and the brightest dental staff. But to entice them to apply for your position, you need to appeal to them and highlight your business’ best features.

HR expert and dental practice coach Ginny Hegarty gives her advice in Dental Practice Success: "Do NOT do what everyone else is doing. Don't let your ad blend in with all the rest of the no-name ads. Whether seasoned or a startup, you are offering a unique and exciting opportunity."

Dental career boards and traditional dental temp agencies give you almost zero opportunity to tempt top quality staff. Your dental practice is usually nothing more than a name on a long list, making it very easy to get lost among the masses and be looked over, no matter how excellent your practice and your team is.

You can’t talk to dental professionals directly

Once you’ve made a short list of potential recruits, it’s time to start interviewing them. Whether you’re hiring a full-time dentist or a part-time dental assistant, it’s important to find someone who’s talented, works hard and is the perfect fit for your dental practice and your staff.

That’s why it’s vital you communicate well in messages and interviews. Experts recommend making personality a priority. “The number one mistake is hiring people based on their skills,” says business expert Tim Twigg in a webinar hosted by Alex Nottingham of All Star Dental Academy. “You can’t teach people attitude.”

In an article for Dental Products Report, dental business coach Penny Limoli agrees: “Most of the issues we see and coach in clients’ offices have to do with attitudes, immaturity or an inability to connect and communicate with others. If there is a lack of performance in a position, it will be easily corrected with structured training.”

Some job boards and temp agencies will send you a list of professionals who meet your requirements, while others will simply send someone straight to your practice with very little regard for what’s best for your dental office. Working with someone you’ve never spoken to is risky and can result in even more wasted time if it turns out they’re not right for your practice or your team and you’ve got to begin the hiring process all over again.

Cloud Dentistry: the better alternative

Worlds away from a traditional dental temp agency, Cloud Dentistry is a modern, cloud-based hiring platform that specializes in bringing the best dental practices looking for temporary workers together with the finest dental professionals searching for temporary work.

Instead of costing you excessive sums of money, wasting hours of your time and bundling you in with everyone else, Cloud Dentistry turns traditional dental hiring into an affordable, speedy and hassle-free experience. Here are the benefits of working with Cloud Dentistry that you simply can’t get when hiring temp staff from traditional dental career boards or temp dental agencies.

You’ll save money and time

Cloud Dentistry saves you a significant amount of time by only getting involved when it’s absolutely necessary. Unlike traditional temp agencies who act as messengers, we let you chat to the dental professionals you’re considering working with in real time. In a world where everyone is connected to the internet almost all the time, this means you could hire someone in as little as one hour and be welcoming them into your practice the very next day.

Dental practices pay a small monthly fee for access to the innovative matching platform — there’s absolutely no markup on any worker’s hourly rate. This way you can be certain you’re getting value for money from your staff and you can feel good about the money you’re paying them, knowing full well that they’re earning every penny.

If you find someone through Cloud Dentistry who is such a great asset to your business you want to hire them full time, you can do so with zero temp-to-perm fees.

You can attract the best

Cloud Dentistry provides you with a great foundation to show off your dental practice and attract the qualified and experienced dental professionals your patients deserve. Instead of getting lost in the masses of other dental practices advertising their positions via job boards and temp agencies, the latest high-tech job-matching platforms give you scope to show off your dental practice and all the perks a dental professional can enjoy if they work for you.

Instead of putting your dental hiring into the hands of third party services and hoping they send you the quality staff your practice warrants, you’re in total control of appealing to the best workers.

Looking to hire a fantastic dental assistant? Here are some tips on how to recruit the very best.

You can chat to the professionals directly in real time

In today’s fast-paced world, instant information and real-time communication are essential. Cloud Dentistry gives you the freedom to browse the professional profiles of 1000s of dental professionals in your area to help you find the right one. When you’ve selected a few who really pique your interest, fit within your budget and have the right availability, you can contact them directly in real time.

When you’ve got the opportunity to talk directly to potential candidates, you can ask them all the right questions and determine if it’s worth taking the hiring process a step further or if you need to stop right there because they won’t fit in well with your office culture.

Make your dental hiring and firing count

Whether you’re planning on hiring or firing, it never hurts to review the current trends and the latest best practices when it comes to recruiting and dismissing. It’s important to remember that just because something has been around for a long time (like dental temp agencies and dental career job boards) doesn’t mean it’s the only option out there.

Today we live in a world of highly advanced communication technology and it’s important outdated businesses and services keep up if they want to retain the industry’s top talent. The best dental professionals are moving far away from the old, tired ways of looking for work and are embracing modern, innovative platforms that offer incredible benefits. Dental practices that follow suit will undoubtedly reap unprecedented rewards.

For more advice on recruitment and dismissals, take a look at this post on how you could hire smart or fire stupid.


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