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Less stress and more fun in your dental practice

Feb. 5, 2023
No one likes stress. If you and your staff have high stress levels, there's a good chance your patients can tell. Here are some ways to change that.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and Founder, Levin Group

How would you rate the stress in your office? Following the past several years, there's a good chance that it's higher than ever. If you’re experiencing high stress, it’s likely that your team and patients are too.

You’ll never be able to totally eliminate all of your stress, but there are ways to greatly reduce its impact on your team. One method is to simply add more fun activities to your practice. Too many practices live by a “Let’s keep our head down and get through the day” mentality. If every day feels like a grind, stress will continue to rise.

Especially if you're the practice owner, you want to create an atmosphere where you and your team look forward to coming to work. You don’t want staff members to feel your practice is just a place to punch the clock and collect a paycheck.

Stress has many causes, and some are deep-rooted, but creating an enjoyable, welcoming atmosphere can make a big difference in your team members’ attitudes and behaviors. Here are four easy things to do to make your office a more fun practice for everybody.

Take your team bowling

OK, it doesn’t have to be bowling. It could be mini golf, laser tag, or go carts. Participating in a shared activity as a group breaks down barriers and creates a greater sense of camaraderie. Remember, just because you have a staff doesn’t necessarily mean you have a team. Plan a quarterly event away from the office. Get everyone involved. Solicit ideas for themes, locations, and activities. It doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money either. You could go to a local park for a picnic or cookout, with everybody contributing a dish. Whatever you decide, it’s amazing what a little time together away from the office can do for the entire team.

Let loose one day a month

Pick one day a month to have an in-office celebration. It could be somebody’s birthday, a holiday, a special event, or something totally made up. This month could be crazy hat day. Next month could be throwback ‘80s day. If you need a few ideas, check out the National Day Calendar. The site lists celebrations for nearly everything under the sun. Did you know April 4 was National Cordon Bleu Day, or that June 3 is not only National Egg Day but also National Chocolate Maroon Day? Did you know that National Cheese Toast Day, National Double Cheeseburger Day, and National Felt Hat Day all fall on September 15? As you can see, there are many reasons and causes to celebrate. All you have to do is pick one.

Throw a party once a year

Your team deserves a party. They’re a big reason why your practice is successful. Celebrate the good work they’ve done all year. The setting can be formal or informal, but you do want it to be something special. It can be at a restaurant, a sporting event ,or your home. Again, the point is to get together with your team. You appreciate what they do and having a celebration is a good way to show it.

Be the motivator-in-chief

It’s not always easy. Your team is looking at you to learn and model their behavior. They’re taking clues from you. If you act like a curmudgeon, how can you chastise the front desk team for their lack of enthusiasm? You have to set the example, even when you don’t feel like it. After all, it’s your practice, and if you’re not happy to be there, why should your team be happy?

Even in the best practices, high stress is always a threat. Systems break down. Patients get upset. Staff members argue with one another. One way to combat stress is to create a positive, energetic office where team members feel appreciated. Use these four steps to increase the fun factor in your practice.

Editor's note: Originally posted in 2017 and updated regularly