How dental practices should manage hiring during COVID-19 pandemic

2020 03 25 21 44 8529 Hagivreta Catrinel 20200325211628

A crisis like the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic causes physical, mental, and emotional stress for everyone. If it's not the disease itself, it's the panic and fear about becoming infected, potential global economic ramifications, and how to navigate workstyle changes. For business owners, this experience is heightened, and the only solution is to approach the challenge with flexibility and creativity.

Many dental practices throughout the U.S. have been impacted, officially closing their offices completely or only open to emergency patients for the next few weeks. Dentists and team members in these practices are also uncertain of when they will realistically be allowed to see patients again. We know the primary concern for dental professionals is the ability to provide high-quality patient care.

Naturally, dental practice owners can only ensure this care by remaining financially solvent for the foreseeable future. They must also ensure they have the right team in place to manage the flood of appointments they will undoubtedly have once COVID-19 passes.

Recruitment strategy is like every other type of business strategy -- it is only as effective as the quality of inputs you have to form it. Unfortunately, COVID-19 creates a lot of uncertainty. Luckily, with years of dental recruiting under my belt, I have five key recommendations to help you stay competitive.

1. Keep your candidate pipeline active

Catrinel Hagivreta.Catrinel Hagivreta.

If you have a slew of candidates with high potential in your pipeline, congrats! That's rare, and it should be protected at all costs. Don't let COVID-19 (or any business hiccup for that matter) drain your pipeline. Continue to schedule video interviews, create a shortlist of your favorite candidates, and communicate your expectations honestly. It's difficult to find a new job under the best of circumstances, but now you need to be even more empathetic. The goal is to keep candidates engaged with your process so that, when this is over, you have the right candidates ready to work. Similarly, make sure you keep your current employees engaged with consistently open, honest communication. Weekly all-hands meetings or dedicated slack channels are some of the most effective approaches I've seen.

2. Contact high-profile candidates directly

Hospitals have increasingly high labor demands, but healthcare practices are facing the opposite challenge, having to downsize or cease operations entirely. For the dental industry specifically, COVID-19 has reduced hiring velocity and relaxed the competition for high-quality talent. These macrotrends provide the perfect opportunity for dental practices to find candidates for their hardest-to-fill positions. Create a job listing, distribute it widely, and start engaging directly with the best candidates in the market.

3. Be technologically savvy

We live in a world that's drastically different than it was a few weeks ago. COVID-19 means we have to use a different set of tools to get the same list of work done. At, we regularly conduct video interviews using tools like Google Hangouts or Skype, and send offer letters through digital signature services like Docusign and Pandadoc. Simultaneously streamline your process, and keep your candidates safe.

4. Don't procrastinate

We know dental practices will see an unusually high influx of patients when COVID-19 is over. If you do not have enough staff to support the increase in demand, your team will be overwhelmed, overworked, and unable to provide the high quality of care your patients expect. Consequently, if you don't anticipate your staffing needs correctly, you won't be able to have a pipeline of candidates to choose from. You'll be scrambling to find candidates alongside every other practice, and your patients and practice will likely suffer. Luckily, if you begin recruiting approximately three to four weeks before you reopen, you will be ahead of the curve. There is no monetary investment required for interviewing candidates and creating a shortlist, so I highly recommend starting now.

5. Improve your onboarding process

Only 1 in 5 dental practices has a clear, effective onboarding process in place, even though data show that an effective onboarding process can increase new hire success by 50% and improve retention by 30%. Dental practices tend to spend the majority of their resources on the hiring process. However, a new hire's experience in the first three months is equally as important. A clear onboarding process helps both the employer and new dental assistants or dental hygienists have equal expectations from the start. Use your COVID-19 closure as an opportunity to improve your onboarding process to help save your practice money long term. Make new hires more productive faster and retain them longer.

Catrinel Hagivreta is the founder and CEO of MEDIjobs, an artificial intelligence-enabled marketplace that connects dental assistants, hygienists, or dentists with the best dental practices in the U.S., based on career goals and company cultural fit. She is also the co-founder of the Association of Dental Office Managers in Romania. For a customizable onboarding template for your dental practice, please email [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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