Practice Management

How to Prevent Burnout and Reduce Turnover

A lot of practices are facing staffing shortages. Dental industry leaders share their advice for preventing burnout and reducing turnover.

prevent-burnout-2x1This past year was one for the history books. A global pandemic, social unrest, political discord and the changes in our everyday lives have been emotionally difficult and draining. 

People are exhausted. So how do you move forward when you’re running on empty?

Doing nothing can lead to burnout and staff turnover, which impacts production, growth and employee morale.

Download our guide “How to Prevent Burnout and Reduce Turnover” for real-world tips on how to handle the challenges you’re facing. 

How to Prevent Burnout

Burnout accelerates when people are forced out of their comfort zone – which has happened to just about everyone this past year. It’s magnified when people feel unheard or unappreciated.

One key to preventing burnout is to create a culture of community and belonging. Smile Brands, a DSO with more than 650 dental practices, created an initiative called S³: Safe. Smile. Space.

The initiative encompasses not just the physical safety of team members, but also psychological and emotional safety. That starts with understanding other people’s experiences and developing a culture of inclusivity, equity, and diversity.

“S³ was born out of the need and necessity to ensure our teams were safe and felt safe, from COVID and from some of the behaviors we began to see from patients as well as the stresses from the social justice events that played out,” said Tanisha Wicker, the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Smile Brands.

Now it has another rallying cry: Embrace. Empathize. Evolve. 

“When we shared some of our very personal experiences around bias and micro-aggressions, it resonated with people and that helped catapult the desire to ensure we empathize with others. We treat people with respect, dignity, and empathy.”

Tanisha Wicker
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Smile Brands

Practice Culture & Communication

One of the keys to preventing burnout and reducing turnover is creating a positive culture. That often begins with increasing communication and showing respect for each other.

Here are some ways Smile Brands has communicated with its team members that can be replicated for any practice of any size.

Hold Listening Sessions

Smile Brands hosted Zoom meetings in the evenings to give people a chance to share their experiences.

Ask “How Are You?”

Just asking team members how they’re doing is an easy way to show that you care. One phrase that can be effective is to say, “I want you to know that I’m here, and if you want to talk, I welcome it. I don’t want to intrude, but I do want you to know that I’ve been watching the news, I know what’s happening, and that I’m here for you.”

“A lot of leaders are afraid to ask the question ‘How are you doing?’ because they’re afraid people will unload. But what it does is allow people to work through what’s going on and they feel empowered to get to a place where they can get comfortable with their experience and get the right support to manage it.”

Jodi Evans Founder & CEO, Revolutionary Tribes

Practice Culture & Communication

Provide Resources

Even if your practice doesn’t have an HR specialist, there are resources available online, through your benefits provider, and in the “How to Prevent Burnout and Reduce Turnover” guide. Click here to download it.

Create a Private Facebook Group for Your Team

This gives your team a way to share information, including good news. At Smile Brands, team members share pictures from vaccination sites, thank you notes from patients, and fun moments throughout the day. They have also rallied around team members who have lost loved ones, creating a virtual support system.

Outline Code of Conduct Expectations

Smile Brands created both patient-facing and employee-facing materials explaining their commitment to keep each other safe.


Help create a positive culture with our guide, "How to Prevent Burnout and Reduce Turnover" 




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