5 Best Practices to Enhance Your Practice Performance and Productivity

By Melvina MacDonald, Employee Assistance Program Director, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Inc.

“I feel like if I go on like this, I will get sick.”

“I can’t think, I am confused …”

“I have too much stress at home and work.”

“I need to go home, I can’t do this anymore.”

“I need help.”

These are statements made daily by employees seeking help through our Employee Assistance Program. As employee assistance and mental health professionals, we have been in a position to help employees cope with the multitude of competing priorities both at work and home.

Stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workforce. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunities for advancement and heavy workloads topping the list of contributing factors (American Psychological Association 2013b). Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. employers $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees. Dental practices also struggle with these same employer challenges.

The American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence has identified psychologically healthy workplaces as a win-win both for both employers and employees. A psychologically healthy workplace fosters employee health and well-being while enhancing practice performance. The following are five evidence-based practices to support employers with improving their work environment:

  1. Employee Involvement: Look for ways to involve employees in decision making. Provide channels for open two-way communication.
  2. Health and Safety: Provide access to an employee assistance program and mental health and substance abuse services, prioritize safe practices and communicate concern for employee safety. Provide programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and the prevention and management of workplace stress.
  3. Employee Growth and Development: Provide skills training and leadership development; seek opportunities to provide avenues for career advancement.
  4. Work-life Balance: Consider personal and family needs; look for means to offer flexibility in work schedules. Offer flexible benefit plans.
  5. Employee Recognition: Develop a program for individual and team recognition.

By applying psychologically healthy workplace practices, any dental practice has the potential to activate all the resources of its workforce in meeting the mission of the practice.

“You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.”  ~ Renee West, Lexor and Excalibur Hotel

For further information about psychologically healthy workplaces and their successes, go to www.phwa.org, or for information regarding the Tallahassee Memorial Employee Assistance Program, go to www.tmh.org/eap.

Are you ENGAGED?

By Joe Anne Hart, FDA Director of Governmental Affairs

The American Dental Association (ADA) offers a valuable service to all FDA members that will help keep you up to date and involved in advocacy efforts at the federal level.

ADA Engage is an improved legislative action center that replaced Capwiz as the ADA’s main advocacy tool. The ADA uses Engage to send out action alerts, inform dentists on critical public policy issues and put FDA members in contact with their congressional legislators. Most importantly, Engage allows your voice to be heard.

How can you get ENGAGED? Visit ADA.org/Engage and click to sign up. It’s just that easy!

The Time is Now — We Need You!

By Dr. Christopher J. Cowell

Volunteerism … it’s the lifeblood of any healthy organization. Without it, we don’t have anything. With it, we have the potential for anything and everything. So why do I volunteer in our dental association? It all began with how I was raised. I was brought up understanding that it is part of my duty to be an active participant in the areas of my life that have meaning; it was expected. Not everyone feels that way, and I get that. We all have busy lives that pull us in many directions. But, why did I choose my profession to be a major area of service in my life? Good question.

Maybe it’s because I feel like there is a sense of urgency or security; or, simply because dentistry is a field that I understand well. Perhaps it’s as simple as: I enjoy volunteering. I have a need to see my profession become the best it can be and, like many dentists, I am a bit of a perfectionist. I like having problems to solve. I also like the relationships that I have made with my dental colleagues. I can honestly say I have forged strong friendships with some great people while volunteering for our profession.

But, I think the most important reason I volunteer is because there is a need. There is a big need for us to make dentistry a great profession. Throughout the 17 years that I have been involved in organized dentistry’s tripartite, I have seen many areas of how our profession is shaped and assimilated to work in our society. There have been many threats to how we do our job. Through collaboration, our leaders in the dental field have come up with truly groundbreaking ways to help our society and combat these threats. Throughout all of them, it took people who cared enough to get involved and make a difference.

The biggest thing I want to impress upon my peers is when it comes to raising your hand to volunteer, take time to find one or two things that you like doing to help make a difference. Not everyone likes to serve on a board or travel for a weekend meeting or be involved in topics that bore us. Service to our profession can mean so much more than that. There are so many ways we each can get involved at a small level to collectively put our efforts in a forward motion. Something as simple as going to an affiliate meeting to show support and be a part of the body of organized dentistry. It can be volunteering your time to assist association staff — anything, and any amount of time, shows support to our profession.

Thinking about how I may help inspire others to become involved at any level, I recall two situations in my life that have helped shape me in making decisions. The first came about when I got to know a politician I met in Tallahassee, Rep. Joyce Cusack. I met her at the FDA’s Dentists’ Day on the Hill. She was a new legislator from my town and in our meeting I heard her use the phrase, “I am here to make a difference.” That phrase has always stuck with me. I would always leave my conversations with her saying, “Keep making a difference!” The second inspiration I got was through my parish priest, Fr. David Suellau. When he really wanted to make a difference and motivate the congregation, he would end his sermon with the phrase, “Think about it, pray about it and why not do something about it.”

So, my charge to you, my colleagues, is: Our profession needs you in whatever way you can help; think about it, pray about it and why not do something about it to help make a difference in our profession. The time is now — we need you!