COVID’s Impact on Dental Staffing
The pandemic’s impact on dental practices has been significant, causing many dental professionals to consider alternative options to traditional staffing models.
Practices have dealt with attrition from office managers who opted not to return to work over concerns about either contracting the virus or spreading it to family members. This is understandable given that nearly one-third of office managers are 55 and over.
Dental professionals who either were prevented from sending their children to school or opted for home schooling faced significant work/life challenges, particularly after the mandatory shutdown ended and practices re-opened. Some had little choice other than to leave their job to care for their children. Others needed the flexibility to be home to care for a sick child, or spouse. Staff members sharing their home with elderly parents in some cases opted not to return to work due to the risks.
Temporary and Flexible Staffing Grows in Demand
In the first half of 2020, many practices had to make hard decisions to furlough employees or greatly reduce their hours which led to attrition. Predicting patient demand once they reopened was difficult, impacting a dental office’s biggest expense—labor. Dental offices had to balance the amount of paid staff on-hand versus the number of procedures completed on a given day or week. Hiring temp workers gives the practice significant flexibility to address the ebbs and flows of the business. Many offices have opted to work with on-demand staffing firms for access to experienced professionals on an as-needed basis. In some ways, flexible staffing is a way to “COVID-Proof” the bottom line.
Practices can ramp up when demand requires additional staff and then retract to coincide with lighter schedules. Dentistry has seen more dental professionals transition to temp employment to give them the flexibility they need by freeing them up to work at multiple practices.
Pre-COVID, last-minute appointments wreaked havoc with dental offices that relied on tight schedules to run their practice efficiently and profitably. Typically, they had the “luxury” of turning down these types of requests. Now dentists have the opportunity to make up for lost revenue by accepting these types of appointments by working with temp agencies that provided them with quality dental professionals when they needed them. Taking appointments the night before or even the day of add up over time and are effective for attracting new patients or increasing income.
Using a technology-based staffing platform like Stynt can help practices manage staffing operations to navigate through such unprecedented times and maximize on revenue/growth opportunities.