4 Tactics to Hire More Dental Hygienists

4 Tactics to Hire More Dental Hygienists

The dental hygienist shortage is ongoing, and that adds an element of difficulty to your role as dentist and practice owner.

Every hygienist you can bring on is another full day of appointments you can book, every day. Hygienists also build the most personal relationships with your patients. Clearly, it is essential to have a strong team of hygienists.

But with the hiring scene so competitive given the ongoing shortage, what can you do? Here are our four tactics to hire more dental hygienists.

1. Increase Pay and Implement Bonuses

We’ll start with the obvious one: pay dental hygienists more. The simple solution for a competitive hiring market is to make your compensation more competitive. We know that this isn’t really as simple as it sounds. But review your finances and see how you might be able to shift things around to pay hygienists more.

You could also implement a bonus program to hire more dental hygienists! A great idea is to create one that depends on longevity at your practice. So, for example, after being a hygienist with you for three consecutive years, they receive a bonus, and so on.

2. Offer “Workstyle” Benefits

By “workstyle,” we are referring to the work equivalent of lifestyle. For many, work isn’t only about the pay. It’s also an experience one wants to enjoy. Perks like a longer lunch and coffee orders brought straight to the office every Friday really do make a difference.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Long lunches
  • Coffee or lunch brought into the office once a week
  • Membership to a nearby gym
  • A stocked break area with snacks, sodas, etc.
  • Two monthly “late passes” for those heavy traffic mornings
  • A modern, enjoyable environment, with pleasing interior design, a fancy coffee machine, highly cycled air, etc.
  • Extra perks like meals and maybe even a PTO hour at the end of the week during the busiest times of the year (think about back-to-school and holiday rushes)

3. Be Smart About Scheduling

And by “smart,” we mean consider the hygienists’ viewpoint while still maintaining profits for your practice. We all know what the most common complaint among hygienists is: being overworked. They often feel like they’re expected to operate at super speed during the workday.

As you are advertising that you have openings for hygienists, include messaging about the thoughtful scheduling your practice can offer. Communicate that while you want everyone at the practice to profit, you are also aware of how intense their day can be.

When it comes down to how you actually operate, don’t overschedule. It might seem like a savvy way to increase output at first. But really, overscheduling hurts your hygienists and patient satisfaction. A study of 844 patients at University School of Dental Medicine identified four common causes of patients who fear their dentist. The dentist appearing to be in a rush was among them.

4. Offer Ownership Opportunities

Wait, offer ownership opportunities… to hire more dental hygienists?

We know, the idea of allowing hygienists to buy into your practice isn’t standard. But corporate companies do this for employees at a variety of levels.

And, consider the qualifications you could put in place. An associate dentist might be given this option right off the bat. But for your hygienists, you could make it contingent on time spent at the practice.

Outline a plan wherein, after five years working consecutively at your practice, hygienists can buy in for a small share of the company. After five years, you will likely be confident that they are committed to your practice. At the same time, you can use this benefit to entice future applicants when trying to hire more dental hygienists. Who doesn’t like bolstering income with dividends?

External factors are definitely in part to blame for the dental hygienist shortage, such as not enough schooling opportunities in the field, health concerns created by the pandemic, etc. But there are tactics you can use in-house to help you hire more dental hygienists.

Here’s a recap:

1. Increase Pay and Implement Bonuses
2. Offer “Workstyle” Benefits
3. Be Smart About Scheduling
4. Offer Ownership Opportunities

With these four tactics in mind, we think you’ll prove to be more competitive in the market as you strive to hire more dental hygienists.

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