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  • Denise Ciardello

Avoid the Turnover Tsunami

Updated: May 5, 2023

Reducing Turnover; Elongating Tenure

“Where have all the good workers gone?” This was a post exclaimed by a doctor on a dental Facebook page last fall. When I read it, I found this statement pretty brazenly bold, especially in a public forum. However, I’m finding myself thinking the same thing, not only in the dental industry but all over. I see NOW HIRING signs in just about every store and restaurant in my little town. I’ve met business owners that can’t open because they cannot find the staff to ‘man’ their businesses. Delayed service in restaurants is blamed on inadequate staffing although there has been an increased up-tick on patrons.

Folks -- we have a worker shortage. But why? There were plenty of workers prior to the pandemic. Where DID they all go? There is so much movement in our American society today when it comes to employment. HR magazine’s cover page was titled “The Turnover Tsunami’ and talked about the employees that have left or will be leaving their current positions. The main reasons mentioned were:

  • The ‘furloughs’. No one knew how long they would last, so many workers were forced to find alternate employment.

  • When they did get called back, the job they found was acceptable and chose to stay.

  • 25% sited Work/Life Balance issues - kids needing to be home-schooled or care for elderly parents

  • Employees choosing not to re-enter the work force when they can make nearly as much or more by collecting unemployment benefits.

  • Relocation - due to partner’s job, or for personal reasons such as lower taxes, stronger economy, weather. When it is proclaimed that Elon Musk has moved to Texas for a stronger economy or that J-Lo & Sly Stallon have headed to Florida because of lower taxes, typical Americans stand up and take note.

Our dental industry is not transitioning out of the pandemic unscathed from this topic. Just about every office we work with is looking to add another team member, which is probably why this topic is top of my mind right now. However, I’m seeing an increased divide in the ‘types’ of candidates that I am interviewing for these positions. Although I really want to have a raised eyebrow and jump in judgement for those that have not worked since the spring of 2020, I have to remember that there truly were reasons for many people to remain out of the workforce.

Additionally, I see those that have been loyal to their office for 10+ years; they feel the need to find somewhere that they will be appreciated, or some people that just feel that it’s time to move on. My findings also include the fact that a worker will walk down the street to make a buck more - forgetting the fact that they have accrued benefit status in their current workplace. It’s enough for me to shake my head in wonder.

How do we fight this inconsistency in our workforce? Unlike restaurants or stores, we can’t raise our fees to match the increase in payroll - or at least we can’t expect insurance companies to follow suit. There are things that practice owners will want to take a long look at to avoid the tsunami from washing up on their shores. Consider ways to retain your current workers - help them to understand the benefits of being a loyal employee.

This might include:

  • Talk to your employees; keep them involved with the mission & vision of the practice

  • Allow employees to have a (reasonable) voice in the operations & decisions of the practice

  • Constant communication - team meetings help to understand employee’s perspectives & frustrations

  • Follow through on commitments

  • Find a way to ‘lighten’ up - take a staff outing to paint a board, hit some balls at Top Golf or a playful game of laser tag or bowling.

  • Be willing to ask questions - how can I help you?

  • Recognize birthdays &/or work anniversaries.

  • Thank your employees at the end of each day; find things to compliment them on throughout the day. Appreciation is a prime reason that people will leave; if you do appreciate them, say it.

Have you ever heard the phrase it costs 3X more time, money & resources to attract a new patient than to retain a patient of record? The loss of an employee, at any level, is just as costly to the practice. No doubt the office will retreat several steps back while trying to fill the void and getting the new person up to speed.

The last sentence in the ‘Tsunami’ article stated: “It’s not about reducing turnover, but rather about elongating tenure.” What can you do to avoid the tsunami? What steps will you take to retain the valuable resources that support your mission every day?


Denise Ciardello, Consultant

Denise is co-founder of Global Team Solutions. A professional speaker and published author, her enthusiasm and knowledge about the dental profession has helped many dental teams. She brings experience, insight, and creativity into her management style, along with a sense of humor. In a profession that can cause anxiety in some dental employees.

Denise’s consulting approach is to partner with doctors and team members to help them realize the dream of creating a thriving, successful practice.

Denise can be reached at:

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