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Employing Millennials: How to reduce dental office generational 'turnover'

Jan. 10, 2017
Amber Auger, RDH, who is a Millennial, discusses what attracts younger dental professionals to a dental office.  

By Amber Auger RDH MPH

When coaching dental offices, I often am asked how to embrace the “high-turnover” generation, also known as Millennials. As a millennial and RDH myself, I offer a unique view on what motivates team members and creates a positive work environment. In my experience, mentorship provides a sense of ownership in a company, creating a culture of increased passion and positivity.

As owner of a small business, it is essential for the boss/dentist to invest in leadership training to powerfully coach the team to work effectively. Creating a work environment for teamwork, fairness, and growth has proven to build and maintain successful teams.(1)


Within days of graduation from hygiene school, I went door-to-door with resumes. I was looking for my first job as an official RDH and did not comprehend the importance of a dentist who would offer mentorship. Fortunately, I found two part-time positions in which both of my bosses mentored.

Each day, I was taught to think outside of the box, inspired to evaluate the systemic health of the patient and participate in the co-diagnosis of a patient. When the doctors determined a specific procedure was necessary, they explained why and, if the schedule allowed it, asked me to observe the procedure.

Mutually embracing my passion for learning, I was often asked to observe large case presentations. Reviewing before-and-after photos with the doctor allowed me to learn the philosophy of the office and understand what information the doctor needed to properly diagnose and treat the patient. This mentorship not only empowered my clinical and verbal skills, it made me feel more than an employee.

I felt involved in the entire process of caring for the patient, came to work excited, and the passion fueled patients to take ownership of their oral health. Mentoring requires being intentional with consistent teaching, patience, and time. Employers of mentored employees see a superior productivity in the workplace with fewer mistakes.(1) In addition, employees that are mentored have a greater sense of job satisfaction, which leads to a healthier more positive environment!(1)


Research has shown that the number one characteristic potential employees look for in a positive work environment is to feel valued and appreciated. Harvard professors report managers who remember to say “thank you” find that employees feel motivated to work harder.(2) Despite the age of employees, 83% reported recognition for contributions was more fulfilling than financial rewards.(3)

Implementing systems to demonstrate gratitude encourages employees to strive for excellence consistently. Recognizing a “textbook worthy” radiograph or thanking a team member for answering the phone well is easy to do; however, the gratitude makes a significant impact on the team. Whether during morning huddle, or a sticky note, or in front of the patient, a moment of praise to employees creates an office full of gratitude.


Effective leaders inspire action, utilize the strengths of team members, communicate, support their team and have confidence. In fact, the most common reason employees leave is due to lack of purpose, lack of empathy, and lack of fullment.(4)Great leaders listen to understand, instead of listening to respond. Teams that are involved in decision-making in the practice become invested in the office mission and feel a greater sense of purpose. Investing in proper leadership training enables dentists and office managers to be the trusted, as well as respected leaders the team needs to thrive.

Mentorship, gratitude, and effective leadership create teams that work together well and long term. Employees crave respect and value from their employer, which is often achieved through gratitude. Successful, satisfied teams are established through skilled leaders that provide growth, fairness and positive work environments.

Amber Auger, RDH, MPH, is a hygienist with experience in multiple clinical settings, including facilities abroad. Amber obtained a master's degree in public health from the University of New England and a bachelor's in dental hygiene from the University of New Haven. She holds a part-time position at an elite dental office in Boston, and is chief of clinical technology for Jameson Management. Amber is co-owner of Spin C.E. where participants receive continuing education while enjoy a challenging indoor cycling class. Amber Auger is a key opinion leader for several dental companies, a professor, a published author, and can be contacted at [email protected].


  1. Entrepreneur. The 4 Things Employees Want Most From a Job Cost Nothing. Available at: Accessed December 5, 2016.
  2. Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. In Praise of Gratitude. November 2011. Available at:
  3. Lipman V. Physchology Today. New Employee Study Shows Recognition Matters More Than Money. June 13, 2013. Available at:
  4. Goffee R, Jones G. Harvard Business Review. Creating the Best Workplace. 2013. Available at: Accessed December 5, 2016.

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