Tips to alleviate staff concerns during COVID-19

Independent Dental Solutions

We often share resources and best practices on the financial and operational side of the dental industry, however, we would like to take a moment to address another, very critical side – the human side. 

As businesses across the country are anxiously preparing to re-open, owners, including dentists, should be prepared to address staff concerns about returning to work.

Over the last month, dental practices from around the country participated in our Re-Open Strategy Survey, which was developed so that we could better understand when and how our members plan to open their clinics, reinstate staff and resume patient care. 

The survey found that nearly 60 percent of respondents planned to reopen between late May and mid-June.  Additionally, 50 percent plan to use a phased approach to reopen, adding routine services and increasing staff levels gradually. Most practices reported making operational changes to increase patient and employee safety include added hygiene hours (encouraging hygienists to hand-scale only), extending office hours, utilizing virtual care to triage patients and designating specific appointment times or lengthening the time between appointments for senior and immune-compromised patients in order to limit their contact with others. 

Across all industries, safety remains top-of-mind. Making physical adjustments within your practice and remaining flexible can help even the most anxious employees feel more comfortable about returning to work. According to an article published by Forbes, the vast majority of businesses planned to adopt workplace modifications to promote safety and alleviate staff concerns, such as:  

  • Avoiding sharing items such as computers, phones, office supplies and workstations
  • Continuing to utilize virtual communication methods as much as possible
  • Disinfecting offices and shared spaces more frequently
  • Installing automatic doors and hands-free automation whenever possible
  • Modifying or reducing access to common areas such as breakrooms
  • Requiring employees to wear PPE including masks and gloves while at work
  • Revising sick leave policies
  • Staggering work shifts

In addition to operational changes you plan to make, it’s important to remember that although everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way, each person’s reaction to the current (and future) changes may be different. Returning to work after more than a month at home due to social distancing and shelter-in-place orders may stir up mixed emotions for your staff. Some may be eager to return to work and resume “normal” life, while others may experience feelings of stress and anxiety.

During this time, it’s important to be patient with yourself and others. To unify your team and prevent decreased commitment among staff, ongoing and open communication will be critical. This includes discussing worst-case scenarios, conducting employee safety training as well as sharing regular updates with your team. Your leadership and outlook will also play a large role in the success of your practice moving forward. Positioning operational changes as a challenge you will conquer as a team, rather than as hurdles that are preventing you from providing care the way you used to, can also have a significant impact on morale. 

As we move forward, we are here to support you and your practice and wish all of our members a successful, safe re-opening.

For additional resources or help developing a recovery place for your practice, contact us today.

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