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Make every day Dental Team Appreciation Day

Oct. 13, 2022
Special days of appreciation are fun, but we shouldn't need a day on the calendar to say thanks to our colleagues. Paying a simple compliment any day of the year goes a long way.

Giving and receiving compliments makes us feel good. We all want to feel valued, appreciated, seen, and heard. Recently, our society has encountered situations that no one would have ever imagined, and though we were all dealing with COVID-19, its impact was different for each of us. For many, the pandemic made us rethink what we value, what is possible, and where we want to focus our energies. 

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Changes in perspective resulted in changes in workplace for many. Currently, a common theme for employers is trying to fill open positions. We all have a story or two (or ten) related to recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and retaining employees. 

A kind word makes a big impact

As a result, showing our team members that we value them is more important than ever. People want to know they matter.  In recent years we’ve seen the growth of recognition and appreciation days for all groups of people. These days are beneficial. In the workplace, we get busy and sometimes forget to let people know that we “see them” as one day rolls into the next, and the next, and suddenly it’s been a long time since we’ve expressed our thanks. Having a date on the calendar serves as a gentle reminder.  However, when these scheduled appreciation days, weeks, and months roll around, let’s remember that appreciation and recognition do not have to be elaborate or expensive. We don’t need to be sending our office managers on a scavenger hunt to buy each employee a tangible gift. Well-meaning tokens are of course appreciated and can be so much fun, but kind words speak to our souls. Any day of the year, a simple, “What can I do to help you out?” or “Thank you for reaching out to that patient to get them in sooner. You’re really working hard to help us reach our goals,” makes everyone feel good. It lets the team know that what they do matters and is appreciated every day.

When appropriate, a sincere compliment paid to a team member in front of a patient carries a lot of weight. How good would you feel if the doctor told Mrs. Jones he was so confident in you addressing her questions because you are the office expert on insurance? Or if he commended your knowledge because of an area on an x-ray that you highlighted when he came in to do the hygiene exam? Here are a few additional ideas that would make any team member feel great:

  • I really like what you’re doing. Keep up the great work!
  • We are so happy to have you on our team and this is exactly why we need you.
  • Thank you for working so hard. Your commitment to our patients is appreciated.
  • You are so insightful; I value getting your perspective on things.

Sincere thoughtfulness is key

It should be a top priority to let the people who are important to us—both personally and professionally—know that we love and appreciate them. I am a proponent of keeping it sincere and joyful. Feeling obligated to recognize a particular group with lavish gifts on a schedule determined by the department of “them” makes it hard to be sincere and to give with joy. During the year, make a point to try to do something totally random to show appreciation for your team. Here are a few ideas that can be done easily, modified to fit your audience, and not add lots to your already full plate.

  • Pay for lunch for everyone during a team meeting, just because or in recognition of a goal achieved. Use this as a chance to support another local small business.
  • Give a gift card tied to a specific holiday. It could be the supermarket for Thanksgiving, a local butcher shop before Memorial Day, or 4th of July long weekend. Kick it up a notch by sending it to the employee at home, in advance, with a handwritten note of gratitude.
  • If you want to have a little fun, create a small basket or gift bag themed for a fun holiday.  Alternatively, bring in a special treat for one of those holidays. April 5 is Deep Dish Pizza Day.  June 3 is National Doughnut Day, or August 6 is National Root Beer Float Day.
  • There are special, fun, and silly holidays for every day of the year. A quick search brings up several lists. Hang a calendar in a team common area like a break room and list one or two little-known or unusual and fun holidays that might fit your office personality each month. Use this to include the whole team in appreciating one another not just for the things we do each day but for the time we spend together, see how creative you can get, and maybe expand it to your social media pages and your patient encounters.  Spread the joy.  Here are a few examples: March 1 is World Compliment Day. April 15 is Take a Wild Guess Day. June 15 is National Smile Power Day. 
  • At the end of the year consider hosting a specially catered meal during a longer lunch, or use that time to take the team out for an end-of-year celebration. The end of the year is often busy preparing for holidays and family gatherings so consider doing something during the day instead of after hours.
  • Does the doctor have a special interest or hobby out of the office that could be shared with the team?

Let’s show our appreciation every day. First and foremost, say thank you. Have some fun with appreciation tokens. Do it from the heart and with joy not because some “they” somewhere said it was appreciation day. It’s always appreciation day, and when we have fun together, laugh together, and make each other smile, it creates a positive culture that carries us through those times when we get busy and forget to say “thanks.” A person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected.