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In one of the various dental groups I follow on Facebook, a very good question came up.

Karla asked “It seems every single day we have 1 or 2 dental assistants call out for various reasons… sickness, sick kids, doctor appts, lack of sleep, etc…  How do we enforce our attendance policy without affecting the harmony of the office?”

This is a huge problem for many dental practices, so I thought I would share some of the responses with you and if you still can’t improve your employees’ attendance, I will offer up ways to make sure your office gets the coverage it needs.

Step 1: Make an attendance policy

Debra first pointed out that they had the same problem until “We hired an HR manager and we started to implement and enforce the policies”  and “If you don’t have an attendance policy that is the first thing I’d get in place. At times it has been stressful, we’ve lost 2 people in the process of implementation but they were “problems” anyway.”

By putting an attendance policy in place, it is laying out exactly what is expected of your Dental assistants, Dental hygienists, and front office staff.

If they want to break the policy, they should then understand the repercussions.

Step 2: Incentivize

The most popular response to Karla’s question was “Reward good behavior!”

This came in the form of a bonus program for good attendance.

Lisa said, “We pay 4 extra hours a month if they don’t miss work and come to work on time the entire month.”

Melinda’s office policy is “We payout sick leave/personal time as a bonus if it is not used before Christmas.”

And Stephanie’s office “implemented a monthly bonus system based on collections.  However, if you missed part of or a whole day of work you only got half the bonus, if you missed more than a day you got no bonus.  It has been working really well!”

Step 3:  Tough love

You have an attendance policy in place and you are now rewarding good behavior but if you are still having an attendance problem with your dental staff, you will have to give some tough love.

Carla says “If it’s the same dental assistant(s) calling out, discuss cutting their hours, it will make them think twice before calling out.”

Renee says “Just hold your people accountable.  No exceptions or excuses. The ones that want to be there will show up and the other ones will fire themselves due to their poor attendance!”

Tough love can be, well… tough, but so can asking your dental staff to continually pick up the slack for others poor attendance.  It causes resentment and can spread poor morale among your employees. Cutting out the person(s) causing the problem will save you a lot of headaches in the future!

We hope the advice of these experienced dental office managers help you improve the attendance of your dental employees.

While you work to implement your new policy and rewards system, here are some ways to make sure that your office has the coverage it needs when someone calls out.

Option 1: Set up your DirectDental account and post dental temp jobs for free!

 It is completely free to hire from DirectDental.  Post jobs for dental temps in the various positions you need and keep their contact info so you can call them when you need them.

Want more info on how this works? Read: How to hire dental temps in California.

Option 2: Make sure to be signed up with a dental staffing agency before you need coverage!

Dental staffing agencies won’t staff you unless they have a signed agreement.  When you are in a bind and need to staff your job fast, the last thing you want to worry about is printing, reading, signing, scanning and emailing a document to get a temp.  Make sure to sign up with the agency before you need someone.

Option 3: Hire someone.

If you have a problem employee, the odds of them surviving your new attendance policy is slim.  Start looking for a new employee now. As mentioned before, DirectDental lets you post jobs and hire for free (no credit card required).

We hope this post helps you to keep your office fully staffed!

If you have any other suggestions on improving your dental employee’s attendance, leave a comment!

Smiles,