These 5 tips will inspire your team and enhance the loyalty of your employees
A guest contribution from the business owners Patrick Zimmermann and Dominik Mäder, from Zahnmanufaktur in Bern/Switzerland
Dental laboratories today face many different challenges. One of the challenges is the ability to acquire good staff and keep them long term. In our experience, this is more difficult to master today than a few decades ago. Above all, the generation of the current 20 to 30 year-olds is harder to retain than older generations. What can laboratories do?
Present the dental laboratory as an attractive employer
Since founding the Zahnmanufaktur, an important component of our own corporate philosophy has always been to present ourselves as attractive employers for our work team. We came up with a few bright ideas. In the following article, we will introduce you to 5 tips with which we were able to successfully create an attractive working atmosphere.
Tip 1: Flexible working times
We offer our team flexible working times. We allow our employees to organise their annual working hours themselves. This works excellently. In addition, they are allowed to take unpaid leave: a minimum of 1 month and there is no maximum upper limit. This is how we can meet the needs of the Generation Y.
Tip 2: Lead by example, show enthusiasm and have a positive attitude toward different issues
Enthusiasm is an extremely strong motivator. This is why we try to be role models of enthusiasm for our team. Every day. This sounds simple and it is very effective. We show our team that our work makes us happy. Positivity is contagious.
One main example is full prosthetics, which is a particularly important factor in our dental laboratory. We speak positively about this topic. We make it clear, that the ability to create beautiful dental restorations is something very special. And that it is important not to forget the person or patient behind every individual piece of work. We show that we don’t treat full prosthetics as a subordinate issue, but instead devote ourselves to it with dedication. In addition, we carry out small show competitions. For example, we celebrate the employee who created the most beautiful gingiva. Finally, we show our team that they are capable of fabricating great pieces of work of which they can be justifiably proud of.
Tip 3: Consistently strengthen the team spirit
At this point we should mention, that we never see or communicate a great result as the achievement of a single individual - but always as successful team work, where all participants are included. And it’s true: From the start, we discuss the cases as a team and create the treatment plans together. Even though there is always one main person responsible for the job, it’s always about teamwork. That also strengthens motivation.
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Tip 4: Offer interesting training courses
It is important that employees always have the opportunity to continue their education and develop their skills. Stagnation is regression. That is why we offer the entire team interesting training courses – both internally and externally. Incidentally, we also consider the dental medical aspects: the critical issues on the part of the dentist. This way, the team develops a better understanding of our customers’ challenges and viewpoints. This also broadens their horizons. In addition, we encourage our employees to attend specialist lectures.
Tip 5: Laboratory partners to provide a platform for discussion and exchange
In order to broaden the horizons of our team, we came up with something very unusual: a laboratory partnership with a dental laboratory in Hamburg/Germany. This partnership was founded in 2017. The main intention behind this idea was to offer our employees the opportunity to exchange laboratories with their colleagues. This exchange takes place as follows: The member of staff who is interested in the exchange, goes to the partner laboratory for two weeks. A colleague in the Hamburg partner laboratory will look after him for this period of time. He even lives with him. Later, the roles are reversed: The colleague from Hamburg comes to our laboratory in Bern for two weeks and is looked after by one of our employees. This allows two dental technicians to get to know a different laboratory and new team. This not only enhances their profession life - it can also create new friendships.
In addition, our trainees can take part in the international internship "Leonardo da Vinci", at the Trade and Industrial Education Center in Zug/Switzerland. As a result of this program, our former apprentice, Noemi Hofmann, was able to work in a dental laboratory in England for one month. A transnational exchange is not only advantageous for professional skills. Employees also benefit on a social level.
In 2014, we were able to realize an international exchange. Dominik Mäder worked for a few months in New Zealand and then the exchange colleague from New Zealand worked for us for three months. In 2016, we then also collaborated in a similar way with a dental laboratory from Munich/Germany. Of course, the prerequisite for a laboratory partnership is that both laboratories have a similar working philosophy and comparable standards. We are also well aware of the fact that only laboratories with a sufficient team of personnel are able to offer an exchange such as this.
Of course, the aim of an opportunity like this is to fill the members of staff included in the exchange with motivation for their profession and encouragement to continue their work - in particular in our laboratory.
Conclusion A little openness goes a long way
Dental laboratories have a range of options to inspire their employees not only for their job, but also for their employer - and thereby keep them as employees long term. This requires a certain amount of creativity and the courage and willingness to break new ground. The effort required - in particular the financial and temporal - is not necessarily greater. Often, it’s enough to show your own genuine joy and enthusiasm in your work together with certain amount of openness when planning of the work and vacation times, so that your team feels comfortable with you. Just try it!