How to Establish a Good Workplace Culture in Your Dental Practice

Dr. Ashley Niles


In recent times, dentistry has ranked highly in US News & World Report’s annual Best Jobs report. But even though dentistry is one of the best jobs, it doesn’t come with a lack of stress, hardships, or tough times. However, there are things you can do to get you and your team through those hard days, and that begins with a good workplace culture.

Establishing a good workplace culture in your dental practice starts with you and how you choose to manage your team. As a leader, you are equipped with the authority to ensure that your team operates and acts in a way that leads to a positive and uplifting environment. If you are ready to promote a healthy workplace culture in your practice, follow these tips.

Build Relationships

One of the most important aspects of a good workplace culture begins with building relationships with your team. Your team members are the core of what you do. If they aren’t happy at work, your patients will easily notice.

Dental practices that have a good workplace culture have management in place that takes the initiative to start conversations and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each member on their team.

Building relationships will help you better navigate your way around establishing a non-toxic work environment. You can strengthen relationships by encouraging team-building activities, like providing lunch for your office once a month.

Celebrate Wins and Learn from Losses

Another way to establish a good culture within the workplace is by celebrating your team when they get a win. Did they get a patient out of braces? Did they complete a continuing education course? Celebrate the wins with your team enthusiastically and show them you care.

Alternatively, use the losses as learning moments for your team. Teach them what they can learn from what went wrong and how they can turn that into a win in the future.

Positive Attitudes = Positive Environment

Nobody likes a negative attitude, especially in the workplace. When one team member comes to work with a bad attitude, it can affect the rest of your team. Your patients also will feel the negativity, and it will affect their experience. At your practice, encourage a positive environment at all times.

While bad days are inevitable, be sure your team knows the importance of having a good attitude while with patients. If your employee has an issue with something going on in the workplace, be sure that there are clear channels of communication in which they can voice their concerns. The sooner an issue can be addressed, the sooner a positive environment can be restored.

Maintaining a Positive Workplace Culture

Once you have taken the basic steps to ensuring your employees are working in a positive workplace, you have to maintain it. To maintain a good culture, you have to:

  • Determine if a new hire will fit within your company culture and if your practice will fit within what they expect from a workplace.
  • Show your team appreciation. Whether it’s having an employee of the week or providing breakfast for your staff every once in a while, showing your team appreciation through different ways can help with the culture and employee retention.
  • Assess each team member through a review twice a year. Every six months, sit down with each employee and talk with them about what you have noticed through their performance. Let them know what they have been exceeding at, as well as any areas you’ve noticed that could be improved. These evaluations will help you learn a little more about each employee and what they are experiencing in their day-to-day at your practice.
  • Let your employees know that they can talk to you at any time. Don’t only talk to your employees during their reviews. Instead, encourage them to reach out to you anytime they have an issue or concern they need to bring up. When you have a clear, open line of communication with your employees, you can learn about any toxic behaviors early and stop them before they affect your entire company culture.

A good workplace culture starts with you, the dentist. Having a good workplace culture in your dental practice can help you retain employees, maintain patients, and even attract new clients to your practice. Follow these tips and find your own unique ways to promote a positive work environment. You, your team, and your patients will all benefit.

Dr. Niles knew from a young age that she wanted to help her community in some realm of healthcare. Since graduating dental school from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2009, she has been focusing on comprehensive and community-based oral health care. Along with caring for her patients, she is also passionate about caring for the environment and is certified by the Eco-Dentistry Association. Dr. Niles manages her practice, Niles Family Dentistry, in Niwot, Colorado, where she resides with her husband and their three children. 

Related Articles

Four Things I Wish Dental School Taught Me

Bring the Fun Back to Your Dental Practice

What to Do When Other Practices Poach Your Dental Assistance