Dental practices, like many businesses, have been through a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. Now that things are starting to become more stable, we at Levin Group feel it’s time to bring the fun back to your practice.
All the challenges associated with COVID-19 have caused serious staffing upheaval in many practices. But even those that have retained all of their staff can benefit by bringing back the fun. Usually, fun isn’t usually taken seriously as a business topic. But it should be.
Fun allows practices to build and define a culture, develop a collective positive attitude that is felt by patients, retain staff longer, and generate higher levels of staff satisfaction. If there was a pill that could be given to all staff members and doctors to accomplish these objectives, I’m sure that practices would be willing to pay a significant amount to have it in stock. The good news is that bringing back the fun is easy and inexpensive.
The Foundation of Fun
Without getting up on a soapbox, the foundation of fun starts with the doctor. If doctors are fun, it’s much more likely that their staff will have fun and generate benefits for the practice and patients. Every doctor should take a moment to simply reflect as to whether they are contributing to or taking away from having fun in the practice.
Fun can be approached in many ways. It can be silly, clever, or “Rah-Rah” and loud. But whatever the approach, it starts with the proverbial positive attitude. Start by smiling, recognizing, and appreciating staff members and by complimenting people regularly for a job well done. That is not the whole story, but it is a good starting point.
How to Create Fun
In all the business courses that I have been exposed to, I’ve never encountered one that tackled the topic of fun or that even mentioned fun. But somehow, practice leaders are supposed make their offices fun places for people to work. Fun is more than just good leadership, though. It should be part of the practice culture at a level that the practice leader is comfortable with.
One of the principles of creating a fun environment is to have surprises. If the fun is always “pre-scheduled,” it is not the same thing. Here are a few random examples:
- Goal-based surprises: One of our client practices set a goal of getting 200 positive reviews. This took about 18 months. But when it was achieved, each staff member received $100. They did not know they would be receiving the $100, so it was not a typical incentive bonus, and it was a great surprise.
- Free lunches: A number of practices we work with periodically tell the team on a Friday not to bother bringing lunch in for the next week. Someone goes to one of the big box stores, and for a very low investment, they purchase an entire week of lunches. This can also be done on a one- or two-day basis for under $100. The surprise is that the staff never knows when it will be “Lunch on the Practice” week.
- Free rides: Another practice has a doctor with a very nice Mercedes. Each year, team members can sign up for one week of driving the Mercedes. The insurance is in place, and the doctor has another car. The only rule is that the car must come back washed, cleaned, and gassed up, which the practice has to pay for.
- Movie nights: Many movie theaters are available for rental for approximately $120. An entire practice could go, social distance, watch a movie, and have fun. The surprise is what the movie will be.
- Escape rooms: Do a live (or virtual) escape room. These are fun and challenging and may even help to increase teamwork. About a week before, ask those who can to reserve the evening for an event and surprise them with it right before it starts.
There are many other fun strategies. Finding them for your practice just takes a little bit of creativity. If you’re particularly creative, just go on the internet and look up fun activities for businesses. Engaging in surprises and scheduled fun over the course of a year will change the practice culture and attitude. Staff members will become excited about coming to work and feel that they are appreciated.
I personally believe that being appreciated is one of the most powerful human emotions that makes people gravitate to certain leaders, businesses, or industries. Fun creates an environment of satisfaction, increases staff longevity, and decreases staff turnover.
Dr. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.