Director’s Message: Dentists take heed; here are five ways to appreciate hygienists

Sept. 8, 2014

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” From “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl (1946)

What does this quotation have to do with dental practices? I don’t mean to imply that dental practices are like concentration camps. However, I was reminded of Frankl’s work while hearing personal stories about James Foley. Mr. Foley was a war correspondent from Rochester, N.H., who was killed by a militant group. A former hostage shared, in a television interview, his ability to have a positive attitude and provide humor, regardless of their circumstances.

The dental practice version of “giving away our bread” is to appreciate and acknowledge the people with whom we work. By noticing what our teammates are accomplishing and telling them that we appreciate their efforts, we give both them and ourselves a positive outlook and renewed energy.

The Gallup Organization research shows that people who receive regular recognition and praise:

  • Increase their individual productivity
  • Increase engagement among their colleagues
  • Have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job
  • Are more likely to stay with the organization longer
  • Receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers

Appreciation and acknowledgement are motivators, because they show employees that they are valued. So when conducting research on a topic, where does one go to gather “real-time” answers? Facebook of course. I posted the following inquiry on a Facebook page for dental hygienists: “Staff Appreciation? What would you want for a ‘staff appreciation’ day?”

I grouped the comments below based on themed posts and the highest number of “likes” (or most popular responses).

1. Anything to be appreciated

  • “I'd settle for a simple thank you, or job well done. Or, tough day, you handled that well. How about thank you for your hard work, diligence, professionalism, work ethic, etc.”
  • “I would just like to be appreciated. That would be nice.”
  • “Words of appreciation.”
  • “A thank you.”
  • “After asking a couple of dental team members of different offices, the consensus was to have a day where the ‘boss’ just listened to the team and take a positive action on one suggestion per team member. They said it would make them feel valued and a part of the practice. It would give them incentive that he just listened and most importantly, be heard.”

2. Massage/spa day

  • Chair massage
  • Spa day
  • Massage
  • Manicure/pedicure
  • A chiropractic visit
  • Neck, shoulder massage

3. $$$$

  • To stay clocked in when a patient no-shows
  • Shopping "spree" day
  • Day off with pay!
  • Raise
  • Bonus
  • Gift card

4. Food /lunch

Ideas That Were Truly “Appreciated”

  • “A limo picked us up and took us to the spa. And got a bonus. That was the nicest thing a boss has ever done for me.”
  • “My former boss would take us on a field trip to a local spot of interest (a museum, historical site, etc.), then we would each get cash and a shopping trip, then dinner or show and tell what we bought! In a limo, of course.”
  • “A party bus that took us to brunch and then we all got money and went to the plaza for the day and then ended our day with dinner.”
  • “Our office works for a kind and truly compassionate doctor. She recently treated the office to a four-day cruise. She listens to our concerns and treats all equal.”

Appreciation and acknowledgment is really about saying:

  • “I notice what you do”
  • “I appreciate what you do”
  • “I am investing my time in you”

Remember that quote from Viktor Frankl. Each of us, at every moment of every day, has the power to choose our attitude, our own way, in any set of circumstances. I invite you to begin to shine a light on what’s right, and make the time to appreciate and acknowledge those around you for their efforts, even your employer.

Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, MSEC
Director, RDH eVillage


Other articles by Kristine Hodsdon: