How Workplace Stress Affects Your Dental Practice Growth
With the right team members, it’s possible to increase production, earn high satisfaction scores, and develop a positive reputation in the community. Unfortunately, workplace stress is a major threat to your dental practice: It can reduce morale, increase conflict, and reduce your team’s effectiveness at meeting patients’ needs.
Many people believe that stress motivates them to succeed. While it’s true that a little stress can drive you to achieve personal goals, workplace stress doesn’t have the same effects. That’s why it’s so important to bust through stress-related myths. Here’s what you need to know for effective dental management.
1. More stress doesn’t mean more success.
Sometimes we think that the busier and more stressed out we are, the more successful we’re bound to become. This is usually the opposite of the truth, however. Because meaningful work requires reflection and creativity, and stress is counterproductive to both of those entities, stress does not equal success.
Stress is a broad term that includes both positive and negative stressors. Positive stress, also known as eustress, includes things like buying a house, getting married, having a baby, and taking a much-needed vacation. Eustress is associated with positive outcomes. For example, even though buying a house is a stressful process, you end up with a nice place to live.
Negative stress, also known as distress, makes people feel overwhelmed. It can reduce a person’s focus and impair their judgment, making it difficult to keep up with personal and professional responsibilities. Distress also makes people worry about potential negative outcomes, distracting them from more important tasks.
At the individual level, eustress increases motivation and gets people excited about the future. Unfortunately, workplace stress is usually caused by distress, not eustress. Therefore, workplace stress doesn’t increase focus or motivate people to succeed. Instead, it prevents team members from putting their best foot forward. This leads to low morale, increased conflict, and poor customer service, all of which will hurt your dental practice.
2. Cutting back sometimes adds stress instead of reducing it.
If you don’t have much experience with dental management, you may believe that adding to your team will automatically lighten the workload. For example, if there’s a high level of burnout among six team members, your instinct may be to make the team larger.
But for every person you add to your team, you must change a process and create another string of connection between that person and every other person on the team. Some professionals actually find that more team members—when added prematurely or without having existing systems in place—adds to the already present stress, confusion, and workload.
Now of course if you don’t have enough people to do the jobs you have, you need to consider adding positions.
But before you do, consider meeting with your team and asking them what they need to do their jobs more effectively. According to Dental Economics, cross-training and professional development are helpful for addressing issues caused by understaffing. It’s also important to find ways to increase camaraderie.
Make sure you understand exactly what each role does and that you empower each person to do their job.
3. Stress forces you to make tough choices.
When team members are stressed out, they have to make tough choices. For example, if you have an office manager, they may have to choose between handling a patient complaint right away or paying a batch of vendor invoices. Schedulers have to gather information from each patient and then determine whose needs are most urgent. If hygienists are stressed, they may not have enough time to suggest additional treatments, making it difficult to increase production.
As you can see, stress affects a dental practice in many ways. Every choice you make has the potential to limit your revenue or hurt your standing with a long-term patient. Therefore, it’s important to set up your practice for success.
4. Workplace stress is a process.
Many people think that stress is a single event, but it’s actually a process. Once a team member perceives an overwhelming or threatening event, they respond to it. Workplace stress often causes increased anxiety, irritability, sadness, distraction, and other psychological symptoms. It can also cause increased heart rate and high blood pressure, which make it difficult to stay on top of work-related obligations. These symptoms persist for as long as the threat exists.
5. High levels of stress can affect the legacy you leave on the world.
Workplace stress can even affect the legacy you leave on the world.
For example, high levels of stress may force you to go to the office on weekends or stay late on weeknights. Poor work-life balance makes it difficult to attend special events and enjoy quality time with family members. If you’re always working, it’s also tough to make new friends and enjoy your favorite hobbies.
Reducing stress makes it easier to leave a positive legacy for the people you love, both at work and outside of work.
Become a dental management expert.
Good dental management is all about hiring the right people and retaining them for as long as possible. If high levels of stress are limiting your growth potential, Jameson can help. Our dental practice blueprint makes it easier than ever to set goals and determine the best ways to reach them. Contact us today to learn how to successfully scale your dental practice.
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