Three tips to help reduce employee turnover in your practice

Lauren Andreas says that the costs of employee turnover in both money and office morale add up fast. Read her recommendations for building and retaining a loyal office staff.

Lauren Andreas shares ways to maintain an engaged staff

High turnover, especially of administrative staff, is one of the biggest complaints I hear from doctors. Some doctors accept this as an industry standard and believe that everyone has this problem, and it is just a fact of life. However, I have some compelling statistics, research, and experience that say you don’t want to and don’t have to be victim of this industry standard.

We know that turnover is inconvenient and stressful, but do we know the monetary effects of turnover?

Josh Bersin of Deloitte Consulting estimates that the cost of losing one employee can cost up to 2 times that employee’s annual salary.1

Let’s do the math. Let’s say you have a front desk team member who is paid $30,000 annually. If it costs you 2 times his/her annual salary, then it costs you $60,000 every time someone leaves. If you average three people leaving a year, you are spending $180,000 a year on turnover costs! In 5 years, you are spending almost a million dollars replacing administrative staff.

That’s a lot of money.

Before jumping into the three tips to help improve your employee retention in your practice, let’s talk about a well-known company that has been able to do this despite industry standards — Starbucks.

The quick-service restaurant industry is another field with notably high turnover. Starbucks, however, has 120% less turnover than the average quick-service restaurant!2

Here’s the point: You don’t have to have high turnover just because it is standard in your industry.

Three ways to better employee retention

  1. Focus on training employees

In a national survey of 400 employees, 70% of the respondents said that training and development opportunities influenced their decision to stay at their job.3 Additionally, research shows that 40% of employees that don’t receive quality training and onboarding will leave within the first year.

Training makes your employees feel like they are developing and growing professionally. They see it as a perk of the job.  Also, your team will feel like you are investing in them, believing in their ability to grow, and making them feel appreciated.

Fun fact: Starbucks consistently spends more money on training and development than they do on advertising.

  1. Have a clear vision for the future

According to a Harvard Business Review article, “The ability to visualize and articulate a possible future state of an organization or company has always been a vital component of successful leadership.”4

People want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, something important, and something worth sticking around for. If employees feel that they are just doing the same thing over and over every day with no goals or aspirations for the future, they will be significantly less engaged with their work and less inclined to stick around.

A vision for the future can also include a personal vision for one of your employees. For example, if you have great front desk team members, it is important to give them goals or ideas about where they can progress and grow within the company.  Maybe one day they can be the front desk team leader, the marketing assistant, or can spearhead the annual events held at your practice. Opportunities for growth and development help retain top talent. People want to feel like you believe in their abilities. They want to look forward to something in the future.

In a national survey of 400 employees, 70% of the respondents said that training and development opportunities influenced their decision to stay at their job.

  1. Have good managers

According to Forbes, “People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad managers.”5

Here are a few things I’ve seen that make successful leaders who are respected by their team.

  • Express appreciation, and say thank you! Tell your staff members they did a great job handling a difficult patient, thank them for coming in early, or tell them how much you appreciate everything they do to make your day run smoother. This simple act of gratitude can go a long way.
  • Clearly communicate goals and expectations. If leaders want the team to be friendly to patients, they should communicate exactly what that looks like. If you don’t clearly communicate, then the team may be confused or may think they are doing what you asked, but you get frustrated with them because they aren’t meeting expectations.
  • Lead by example. Strong leaders should demonstrate the qualities that they ask for from their team. If the leader wants the team to be on time for meetings, the leader should be too.
  • Be consistent. If managers implement a new system or protocol, they need to follow through with a system of If managers don’t consistently refer to the new system, teams think the managers just say things and move on. The next time they say something, teams don’t believe they have to do it. Not only that, but if there are employees who try to follow through, they will get frustrated that they are the only ones implementing the new system because other team members are just doing it their own way. This is a quick way to lose respect as a leader.

The key is to realize that your management team is an important part of the puzzle. A bad manager can create unnecessary turnover. Make sure you choose the right people to lead your teams and give them the necessary training and mentorship to be effective leaders who the team respects.

Let’s review the ways to reduce turnover:

  • Provide training opportunities.
  • Create a vision for the future.
  • Have quality leaders.

Just because it’s an industry standard to have high turnover, doesn’t mean you have to have high turnover too. Be intentional with keeping your good employees.

Lauren Andreas is CEO and Lead Trainer of Practice Potential.

Practice Potential is a team training company specializing in Pediatric Dentistry. Their in-office training programs are designed to grow practices and improve overall patient experience, while engaging and uniting practice teams. Follow us on Instagram @PracticePotential.

  1. Bersin J. Employee Retention Now a Big Issue: Why the Tide Has Turned. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2023.
  2. Freeman L. Why Starbucks Is So Successful: 5 Must Have Ingredients. Addicted to Success. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2023.
  3. Gutierrez K. Mind-blowing Statistics that Prove the Value of Employee Training and Development. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2023.
  4. Mayo T. The Importance of Vision. Harvard Business Review. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2023.
  5. Kelly J. People Don’t Leave Bad Jobs, They Leave Bad Bosses: Here’s How To Be A Better Manager To Maintain And Motivate Your Team. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2023.

Preventing employee turnover can be as easy as asking employees what would make them happy in a job. Read how to prevent employee turnover in Dr. James Reynolds article in our sister publication, Orthodontic Practice US.