Why dental practices should consider loyalty bonuses

block letters spelling out word bonus

Bonuses have been a hot topic lately in dentistry and other industries. Considering the labor shortage in the United States — specifically in professions such as education, nursing and food service — some employers are offering sign-on bonuses to attract job candidates.

Dental assistants have been noticing that trend as well. Amid an ongoing shortage of dental assistants, dental hygienists and other dental professionals, dental practices also are offering sign-on bonuses, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

While these types of bonuses can attract new employees, there also are downsides to consider. For example, there’s no guarantee that once a new hire receives the bonus, they won’t leave for a job at another practice. Plus, current employees at workplaces offering such bonuses may feel resentful about it, especially if they have been loyal employees for many years.

Says Valerie, who is not new to the dental assisting profession: “I went to a walk-in clinic and saw a poster offering a $500 sign-on bonus. What about giving us dental assistants and hygienists bonuses for staying with the job, especially with the health risks? Why do some practices treat the loyal staff like they don’t matter? I really feel unappreciated.”

Agrees James: “It feels like a slap in the face to see new hires get a sign-on bonus and not get anything as a loyal employee who has been there through the pandemic.”

Employers might be interested in hearing these thoughts from dental assistants, and may want to consider offering loyalty bonuses, especially if they are offering sign-on bonuses.

Of course, many practices give different types of bonuses — for example, production bonuses or end-of year bonuses. There are many options available when it comes to ways to attract and retain quality dental team members.

DANB’s latest Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey shows that earning a good salary is a top factor for dental assistants’ job satisfaction. Dentists might consider reviewing comparative salary data to make sure they’re offering competitive compensation, including opportunities to earn raises tied to performance goals, or supporting their team’s professional development, for example by paying for continuing education or to earn credentials such as DANB certification.

When an employer acknowledges a dental assistant’s value, their assistants are more likely to stay with the dental practice — and the dental assisting profession — for the long term. This is a win for everyone, including the patients.

Consider this comment from Kelly: “I received a raise due to the effort I put in to improve our processes, and my loyalty. My boss told me that he appreciated me and that I deserved it! I’m so grateful to have found the best workplace.”