Implementing an effective recruitment strategy in your dental practice

squat dental practice

Vicky Kitney, lead business partner at Peninsula Business Services, and James Kingham, dentolegal adviser at the Dental Defence Union (DDU), discuss how to implement an effective recruitment strategy.

It’s no secret that recruitment has been a major challenge for many employers, including dental practices, over the past year.

This is particularly true of dental nurses, over a third (39 per cent) of whom are looking to leave the profession in the next two years which is concerning when they are one of the main employees of most dental practices.

Consequently, it is important to get the recruitment process right. It takes considerable time and effort to put together job descriptions and advertisements, sift through CVs, shortlist, and hold interviews. So, if the person turns out not to be as expected, the dental practice faces a loss.

The recruitment process

Before hiring anyone, practice owners should take time to consider the gaps in the workforce, why a new person is needed, and what specific skills are required to fulfil the role. Thorough analysis at the preparation stage can help ensure the right person is hired and reduce future turnover.

Once these identifications have been made, practices should analyse their current recruitment strategy and assess whether it provides the most effective results. An in-depth review can help understand whether they’re meeting candidates’ needs and expectations and standing out from the crowd in a competitive recruitment market.

For example, salary transparency and flexible working arrangements have been seen to be two of the main priorities for applicants. While home working won’t be appropriate for many dental roles, practices can still promote flexibility with working hours, days, and patterns.

Similarly, during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, employees are more interested than ever in the salary and benefits packages available. As such, practices which don’t set out their offering from the outset could be falling at the first hurdle by putting off ideal candidates.

Recruiting different types of candidates

With unemployment higher for 18 to 24 year olds, many are missing a trick by disengaging with younger workers. Practices may be losing out on ideal candidates because they don’t have the qualification typically associated with that role, despite them having relevant experience.

As such, employers should take into consideration the lack of experience and/or qualifications of younger workers when completing recruitment exercises and not automatically dismiss individuals who don’t fit the traditional job requirements.

Practices can also benefit from offering apprenticeship and trainee programmes, to build long-term working relationships and be involved in the shaping of young careers.

Similarly, there’s been significant attention placed on encouraging ‘unretirement’ and return to employment for those who had left their careers due to caring responsibilities or other personal commitments.

Using positive action tools within recruitment strategies can help the unretirement initiative. This might include putting statements in job adverts to encourage over 50s to apply; offering training or tailored mentoring programmes to help them return to the workplace; or hosting open days specifically tailored towards these groups.

However, it’s important to recognise and understand the difference between positive action and positive discrimination, and ensure practices do not stray into the latter, otherwise they could face tribunal claims.

Practices should also recognise that the wants and needs of over 50s may vary from younger workers, so put measures in place to directly meet their expectations.

For example, they may be more in favour of part-time and job-sharing arrangements; phased retirement options; enhanced family-related leave and pay, including grand-parental leave; private health schemes; and increased pension contributions.

Retaining staff

There are few things more frustrating than putting time and effort into recruitment only to lose a team member shortly after they start.

To reduce the risk of this happening, dental practices can take proactive steps, like staying in regular contact before they start their employment, giving prompt responses to any questions or concerns they have, involving them in social activities, and providing access to information to reassure them you are the best choice of employer.

One dental practice recently shared their experience of recruiting three full-time dental nurses who all left after only six months in the role, despite the practice providing a competitive salary and benefits. Conducting an exit interview revealed that, at the end of their probation period, they had lost interest in the role and practice.

To try and combat this, practices should ensure they are regularly checking-in with their staff and identifying issues at an early stage.

Doing so can help avoid problems escalating and facilitate quick resolutions. At a time when organisations across the UK are struggling with recruitment and retention, it’s more important than ever to focus on making employees feel valued and engaged as members of a cohesive and supportive practice team.

Conducting stay interviews with all employees can be a great way to compile effective feedback, which can then be used to assess what changes, if any, are needed in the workplace.

Ultimately, this will enhance recruitment strategies and should boost retention rates.

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