Top talent: How to attract it and retain it


Finding and retaining talent can be challenging for any business, but it’s especially difficult in dentistry. Unemployment rates are historically low and candidates have more employment choices than ever. Even if your practice is fully staffed, it’s not uncommon for the best employees to be enticed to leave by competitors. In my work with TDSC member-clients, I strongly recommend building a talent pipeline to help win the quest for talent.

Attracting talent
To attract top candidates, position yourself competitively in regard to total compensation within your market. At a minimum, you want to meet the industry standard and offer a rate that is comparable to other employers. If you lead the market, you may attract more qualified candidates and gain an advantage in hiring. If you lag in the market and don’t provide comparable compensation, you’ll have a hard time recruiting and motivating new staff.

Finding talent
Many companies rely on job boards to search for talent. While this may be a good option when looking for an associate, it won’t yield the best return on your investment when looking for front- and back-office staff. Partnering with dental assisting programs and dental hygiene schools is a more effective way to find qualified applicants. Hosting continuous externships with these schools is also beneficial as it offers candidates an opportunity to acquire helpful on-the-job experience while you get to see firsthand if they are going to be a match for your practice.

Another great way to find candidates is through networking. Many dental professionals attend C.E. programs, lectures and volunteer events. Engage with other attendees and look for top talent at these functions. Having a steady stream of candidates can help break the cycle of “warm body hiring” and reduce the time needed to recruit for positions.

Evaluating talent
After you’ve created a pool of potential candidates, determine whose personality will be a good fit for your practice and its patients and within the workplace culture. Ideally, you want to work with someone whose values and ethics are similar to those of the practice.

You should also consider individual skill sets and how they relate to the job description you provided. If a candidate appears tech savvy, and your practice is not updated with the latest technology, it might not be the best fit as they could become disinterested in the work they’re performing. If you specialize in pediatric dentistry, you’ll want to hire someone who works well with children.

Retaining Talent
Finding talent is just the first step in staying ahead. Retaining employees is just as important. Due to competition for qualified candidates, other practices may try to entice your best staff to leave and work for them. Employees who resign voluntarily often cite compensation, work-life balance and opportunities for advancement as reasons for leaving.

Learning and development can be key factors in employee retention. Establishing mentorship programs where new employees can work directly with senior clinicians and offering cross- training for front- and back-office staff are effective ways to invest in talent.

Providing nontangible benefits like wellness incentives is another great way to retain talent.
Making long-term disability insurance, life insurance and pet insurance available for employees is a zero-cost way to increase their total compensation package.

When small businesses invest the time and resources needed to find and retain talent, they’ll benefit immensely through a more engaged, efficient workforce. Employees who feel nurtured in their careers tend to be more loyal overall. And when your patients see the same trusted staff time and time again, they will likely refer more of their friends and family to your practice.

This article was authored by Somi An, a human resources advisor with TDSC. With more than a decade of experience in HR management, talent acquisition and recruiting, she evaluates member-clients’ employment-related risks and formulates solutions, as well as helps to fulfill their practice’s recruitment needs.

The Dentists Service Company specializes in group purchasing and practice management services, helping dentists practice on their own terms through supply savings and dedicated marketing, human resources and practice advising expertise.


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