James Anderson

Work-Life Balance : Attaining the Seemingly Unattainable

Here at eAssist one of our favorite publications is the Harvard Business Review. The articles speak to our company culture and our need to continually improve ourselves. I am constantly forward material to doctors and colleagues to review as it pertains to situations we are running into on a regular basis. Some we are hearing talked about much more frequently, both universally in business but from our clients as well, is balance. Balance for themselves, their staff and their patients.
Dentistry is a place where it is easy to burn out. Most of the time we are working hours that are at the total mercy of how long a procedure takes or if a patient is running late. We operate with just enough staff to keep the practice running smoothly (hopefully) and when someone is out, either planned or unplanned, it can throw a wrench in an otherwise well-oiled machine. The end result is that we tend to not take the time off we need, we work longer hours than we should, we sacrifice self-care and family time and employees and doctors end up feeling burnt out, stressed out and without options.
Fear not! Work-life balance is attainable in the dental practice. There are a few easy things to implement that can lead your team to be happier, your stress levels to reduce and still ensure patient care stays top priority.

  1.       Set long-term goals and communicate them. Too many times we make the mistake of thinking office management and change should happen in a hurry. Evaluate your goals and set time frames accordingly. Allow more time for those goals that don’t effect patient care. Your team will appreciate the additional working time and feel less stressed as a result.
  2.       Hire enough staff. Ensure that your office is not working understaffed. The occasional lack of enough team members is unavoidable but keep in mind that it isn’t in anyone’s best interest to wear “multiple hats”. Each position in the office is important and deserves someone’s full attention. Your office manager cannot get on with the business of running your office if she is assisting you on a crown. Your insurance coordinator cannot call on claims if she is scheduling patients and following up on outstanding recall lists.
  3.       Have a plan for schedule coverage. Your team will need time off. Both urgently for emergencies and for planned vacations or medical needs. Set clear parameters for filling the team’s absences. Whether you have a temp agency you work with and trust or a list of previous employees that can fill in on short notice. Make sure you coordinate for coverage with plenty of notice if possible or you have a short-call list to avoid unnecessary employee stress.
  4.       Observe holidays. Even our country’s government takes off for set holidays. Observe a minimum number of holidays per year to give your team adequate down time.
  5.       Make it ok to say “no”. Let your employees feel empowered to set their own boundaries. Be understanding when a request to work late or attend an out of town CE is turned down for valid reasons. Reassure your team member that their refusal is completely acceptable. Employees that feel more empowered to set their boundaries will also be more likely to relax them when the need arises.

Lastly, model the behavior you want to see in your employees. If you are living a healthy, well-balanced life your team will feel inspired to do the same. If you are burnt out your team will feel those stresses as well.


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