How to Attract Staff to Your Dental Practice… and Keep Them!

Pandemic-induced life changes have promoted a work-life balance reset for many, leading to media reports of a ‘great resignation.’

World Economic Forum

Is your dental office set up to grow with this mentality and cultivate a space that will draw in the best of the best to join your team and stick by your side?

Take a deep dive with us, and let’s determine how to:

  • Understand the current job hunter’s market
  • Review your company culture
  • Take actionable steps to generate an attractive work environment

Step Into The Mind of a Modern Job Hunter

In a recent poll conducted by the ADA Health Policy Institute designed to take the pulse of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging issues in the American dental community, it was uncovered that recruiting dental hygienists and dental assistants continues to be challenging for dentists.

In fact, 90% of dentist owners reported that, compared to before the pandemic, it is extremely or very challenging to recruit dental hygienists. 85% of dentist owners find it extremely or very challenging to fill dental assistant positions when compared to before the pandemic.

It is no secret that in many professions the reaction to Covid-19 limited hours in the office, enforced work-from-home conditions, and even resulted in mass layoffs across the country. This was the new norm for anywhere from a month to the entirety of the last 2 years.

Now that we are slowly gaining traction back into a fully operating society, back to work is again an option. But it’s just that, an option.

The dental field was one of the most at-risk groups during the height of the pandemic, so many people took the chance to retire early or find alternative employment in a less risky field. There was a voluntary reduction of the U.S. dental hygiene workforce by about 3.75%, or about 7,500 dental hygienists, according to updated research from the ADA and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. 

As we said, many offices had temporary shutdowns. It was no longer the 9-5 life, so priorities in day-to-day routines changed. For workers it was now family time, taking on hobbies that they’ve always wanted to do, or placing value on exercising. Whatever it was, it became a standard practice for them and the thought of a full-time job taking that enjoyment away is less than enticing.

So the challenge for employers becomes making coming to work worth an employee’s time.

This difficulty is heightened in the dental and medical fields. It is a strenuous environment requiring dedicated attention and skill that needs to be regularly exercised. Let’s face it, people’s health is in your hands and that is not something you want to handle half-heartedly.

With that in mind, you have to consider this time away has also induced anxiety around the loss of knowledge or skill alongside new expectations.

2022 job hunters want an environment that supports them, is flexible, doesn’t take away from their external passions, and that they will genuinely enjoy going to every day.

What does this look like to employers?

Review Your Company’s Culture

Your company culture is what you make it.

It is how the execution of actions and values come together to make the experience people feel when they come to work every day.

It is how you manage your employees and set expectations.

It is the thing that people consider when asking themselves, “Am I going to be happy working here?”

Yes, coming in to work is about getting a job done, but to make it fulfilling to do that job, you as an owner and their boss should also:

  • Encourage employee wellness, both mental and physical. Dental and medical work is stressful on the mind and hard on the back. Losing employees to medical leave is avoidable.
  • Provide meaning and purpose in the work you are doing. Working in healthcare and helping children is a noble profession that truly helps people. Help your staff remember they are working towards a greater good.

  • Create goals and rewards for hard work. Feeling good about helping people is good, but you must also make the job rewarding in monetary ways as well – bonuses, small gifts, or time off add up to a happy, loyal worker.
  • Encourage positivity and celebrate milestones, both personal and professional. Show that you care by making your staff feel special and appreciated.

  • Foster social connections and build friendships among your staff. If your staff enjoys the company of the people they work with, that will build loyalty and lasting employment.
  • Listen to their feedback on ways to improve your existing culture. Part of today’s issue is keeping current staff. Make sure the people working with you are happy now and you can worry about hiring new staff instead of just replacing missing staff.

Make your business the type of place people want to work. If you are a leader of your company your behavior has the power to largely influence the essence of your company’s culture. Take a moment to step back and ask…

What Type of Leader Are You?

As a leader, you have the responsibility of managing people’s daily realities. And perhaps most importantly, you have the capability to make or break a person’s time spent with your company.

Consider the following questions and challenge yourself to look at the influence you have on your team from a third-party perspective to assess whether your leadership skills have been positively effective:

  • Are your morals visible in your everyday actions? Be your most authentic self. Authenticity inspires authenticity Forbes. As a leader, be yourself and stand by your integrity. Your staff will appreciate knowing your expectations, and if positively applied this will incline them to conduct their efforts in the same direction.
  • Are you honest with your staff? The transparency and vulnerability that honesty reveals will let your staff know that they are trusted and that their insight is valued in the eyes of a leader.
  • How important is communication between you and your staff? Good communication can get the job done, but great communication can blow expectations out of the water. When people know what they are doing and what is expected of them it eliminates the middle man named ‘Confusion’ and productivity is increased.
  • How do you show fairness in your workplace? Be flexible with your staff’s needs both professionally and personally, award accomplishments, and address failure.

Unity in the workplace is established when a leader prioritizes creating an environment not only for the client but for the staff. A great leader can answer these questions with confidence that their staff will appreciate their answers.

One thing to remember is that being a great leader is not always a linear process, there will be ups and downs. But when you register that it takes a village to do the job, then you can start to adjust your approach to value this outlook.

What Makes a Company Attractive to Employees?

A Company with Good Reviews

We’re not talking about client reviews on Google and Facebook, although those can help potential employees get an overview of how your business operates when dealing with the public. There are also employee review sites that are great insights for potential workers. The two most popular sites are:

Search your name and find out what has been said about you. If there are any negative comments, now is a good time to address the issue. If there aren’t any comments at all, encourage your current staff to add on a positive review to make your business look more attractive to job hunters.

Prioritization of a Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. Maintaining a work-life balance helps reduce stress and prevent burnout in the workplace.


A good way to understand what “work-life balance” means to employees is to recognize that it is going to mean something slightly different to each of your employees. Take a look at the following infographic.

The fact of the matter is that the life we live cannot be summarized down to simply work and ‘the rest’, and it is naive to think that when an employee walks into work ‘the rest’ simply disappears. Daily chores, family obligations, visiting with friends, going to the gym, travel, and hobbies add up to a lot of ‘life’ that people need to balance with their job, which includes daily tasks, training, learning new technology, and networking with peers.

There is something to be said that excessive focus on something can drain our energy and result in a lack of interest. Take the initiative to get to know your employees, take an interest in their passions, and consider how as an employer you might work to honor these passions. Give your staff room to balance their work and life by:

  • Reinforce daily breaks to prevent burnout and injury.
  • Encourage vacation time to recharge.
  • Support personal expression.
  • Exercise compassion when ‘life’ creates personal struggles.
  • Prioritize health with competitive benefits packages.
  • Set up out-of-office events and team building during work hours.
  • Create a safe space for your employees to say no (i.e. no to overtime, or no to a promotion that will take up more of their time).

Be Your Staff’s Cheerleader

Part of being a good leader is generating confidence amongst your staff and in turn, they will feel their work is appreciated and their presence is valued – a recipe for an employee who is happy to come to work every day. Follow these three steps to cheer on your team:

  1. Be a mentor: Be someone your team can turn to for direction. When you establish an environment that supports your staff’s curiosity, then this positive reinforcement will incline them to continue developing their abilities in the workplace.
  2. Offer conducive training: Whether an employee is brand new or transitioning to a new role, ensure proper measures are taken for them to receive detailed training. This will prepare them to deliver on what’s expected and mitigate confusion.
  3. Provide an opportunity for professional development: Provide goals for your employees to work towards. For some, routines can get mundane. Entice your staff to grow with your business by awarding them for their hard work and offering incentives to take their skills to the next level.

Offer Competitive Salary and Benefits

As the ADA has uncovered, many offices are experiencing a staff shortage.

That being said, to attract and keep your employees you need to offer competitive salaries and benefits.

Do your research:

  1. What is the cost of living in your city?
  2. What are other offices in your area paying their employees?
  3. What personal/professional sacrifices might people be making to join your team?

This statement puts the power in the job hunter’s hands, but when you invest in your employees, your business grows.

Design an Enjoyable Workspace

Your office atmosphere can have a direct impact on the appeal your employees have towards coming to work.

Just like you don’t want to go home to a dingy, cold, dark basement, your employees don’t want to walk into a workspace that is anything but inviting.

Like the saying ‘look good, feel good’, coming to work in a space that is enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing will have your employees feeling empowered and motivated. It will also generate a sense of respect for the space and a desire to maintain order.

What can you do to your space to spruce it up?

  1. Bring in some greenery to boost the mood.
  2. Encourage employee workspace personalization to promote pride and ownership.
  3. Provide ergonomic work areas to promote health.
  4. Apply theming to create a friendly space that will make working with children easier and more fun.

What Does Coming to Work in a Themed Space Look Like?

Theming your space can bring magic to your business and joy to your guests. By putting young patients at ease appointments become easier, children become more cooperative, and the stress of a fussy patient is no longer a daily battle for your employees.

But it won’t just wow your patients, it will draw in and retain your staff too.

Imagine walking into work every day and being greeted by a giraffe holding a welcome sign? Well in this custom Imagination Design Studios safari-themed pediatric dental office the staff is privy to seeing it every day.

Safari themed reception desk with lemurs and a giraffe supporting a custom branch that reads 'welcome'.

Fresh out of University, Dr. Jensen didn’t just want to go to work every day, she wanted to spend her time somewhere that was going to bring a smile to her face day-in-day-out.

The theming definitely played a role in terms of my decision to join the practice. I came to visit the office, opened up the front door and it was just like a theme park.

I love working here, truly – it is a very well put together office. We know every other dental office tries to stay clean and organized, but I feel like having properly placed theming in an office gives us that edge where every day is fun and interesting.

– Dr. Alexandra Jensen

Read more about Dr. Jensen’s experience here.

Or consider what it’s like for an interviewee to walk into a vibrant and exciting reception area with a parachuting gorilla to welcome them.

My first expression walking into my office for an interview was WOW!! I wanted the job at first sight just by how the office appeared.

– Candace Chavez, Practice Administrator

When you have a unique space, people will fight to work in one of your themed offices.

Every time I open a new office, every one of my employees wants to work in the new office. They’re always so cool and so different.

– Scott Savel

Theming will help you find the right people with your same core beliefs.

Hiring pediatricians is no longer a challenge – once they set foot in the facility they want to work here because the decor speaks to our philosophy and dedication to helping kids.

– Mawish Baber

There’s no easy answer to finding good employees during a worker drought, but there is a secret weapon in making your office stand out to job hunters. Being surrounded by colorful and friendly elements in your workspace that you know will bring a smile to your face can set the tone for the entire workday.

I used to come into work through the back door and now I come in through the front door because it makes me happy for the rest of the day.

– Dr. Bill Martin

Use your office in your job postings. You’re not the only office hiring right now, and what better way to stand out than with your inviting, friendly workplace. You are offering a unique and exciting opportunity – something future employees will love to brag about. Don’t let it go unnoticed.

Adjust to New Expectations

Today’s economy is tough, it’s as simple as that. As we navigate through a post-pandemic reality and, dare I say, the horizon of a potential recession, the workplace looks different for most. Expectations around what ‘work’ means and why employees should want to spend their time with your business has drastically shifted. Shift with this mentality and win them back – you run an exciting, fun, friendly business – show them what that looks like!

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from mundane to magical.

New call-to-action



  • envelope


Unlocking Success: Tips and Tricks for Applying for Grants

Create the Perfect About Page on Your Dental Website

Tips for Adding Themed Decor to Your Church

Our Top 5 Hands-Free Waiting Room Ideas to Engage and Entertain Patients

Between the social distancing policies, masks, extra PPE, and barred-off areas, your waiting room might be feeling a bit cold, unfriendly, or even a little scary to your patients these days.

Or maybe you’ve looked around your empty waiting room while patients wait in their cars and thought it looked dull or lonely. If that sounds like you, then now might just be the perfect time to make some upgrades to welcome patients back into your office with a fun, new look. 

Since the arrival of COVID, one of the most common questions we’ve received is how to engage and entertain younger patients before their appointments without adding shared touch points (and therefore more cleaning time to your staffs’ plates). Read on for our top 5 hands-free recommendations!

1. I Spy Wall Murals

I Spy Wall Murals have always offered an incredible value due to their multi-purpose use as colorful decor and a fun waiting room activity. This is especially true in today’s world when you consider that it keeps kids entertained without resorting to screen time or the need for hands-on games. Another added bonus? I Spy pictures games can boost kids’ memory and visual learning, which parents will definitely appreciate.

Another great perk is the companion activity sheets that you can easily print at your office. They can search for all the items listed on the scavenger hunt list, where dozens of items are hidden within the illustration. It’s like a Where’s Waldo book, but as decor for your office wall!

Would you like to see a sample of an I Spy Wall Mural?

Enter your info below to receive a PDF with a jungle and underwater sample. Grab your kids (or do it yourself) and see how many objects you can find.

Download a sample of an underwater and jungle I Spy Wall Mural from IDS:

Speaking of activity sheets….

2. Coloring Pages or Activity Sheets

While your patients are checking in for their appointments, you can offer them various coloring pages and activity sheets to work on while they wait. You can also give them a set of disposable crayons, so there’s no need to share with other patients throughout the day. Or, if you send out appointment reminder emails, you can always attach some to the email and let them know they can print them off to bring along while they wait.

There are some great free coloring pages online that you can find. We also have a selection of free downloadable coloring pages and activity sheets, as well as drawing lessons, available on our Kids Club page.

Patients have fun, parents can relax while their kids are occupied, and staff have an effective time-management tool that does not require any extra cleaning. Everybody wins!

3. Suspended 3D Decor

If your priority is to keep decor out of reach or to not increase the amount of sanitizing in your office, suspended 3D decor can make the environment fun for all ages. It can even serve as your smiling welcoming committee – no masks required here! 

Wayfinding signage in a clinic.
Waving character above the treatment chair in a private exam room.

Hanging decor like this is great for treatment rooms where patients will be spending most of their time laying back in a treatment chair looking up. In waiting rooms this type of a decor does not take the place of seating areas. 

4. Interactive Floor Projectors

This technology combines a high-quality projector with optical sensors to create a virtual playground. Kids can explore, make art, and play games by simply moving in the projection area – no hands-on contact required!

There are a few options out there, but the hands-down (or hands-off) winner is BEAM

As pioneers of the technology, they have the best gear and a game library of over 200 titles. IDS is proudly a distribution partner, so if you’d like more info, reach out and we can make some recommendations for how to best integrate it into your space!

5. Put On a Good Movie

There’s no shame in simply putting on a good movie to keep the kids occupied before their appointment. There’s really no right or wrong when it comes to keeping kids entertained, so pop in a head bopper like Frozen, Moana, or Coco. You might feel a “Un Poco Loco” after listening to “Let it Go” all day, but you might be surprised how far it goes with the kids’ mood before heading back for their treatment.

These are just a few of our favorite solutions when it comes to hands-free waiting room entertainment.

Check out these great resources for more ideas for your practice, during COVID times or not.

Check out these related resources for keeping your office safe:

FAQ about Covid-19 and Keeping Your Theming Clean

Our Top 5 Hands-Free Waiting Room Ideas to Engage and Entertain Patients

Using TV as a Positive Distraction for Kids

Download an I Spy Mural Sample

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to magical patient experience.



  • envelope


Color and Light in Interior Spaces for Children with Autism

Enhancing ABA Therapy Centers with Themed Decor

Tips for Adding Themed Decor to Your Church

FAQ About Covid-19 and Keeping Your Theming Clean

Preventing the spread of germs and limiting common touchpoints is a hot topic right now. Luckily, IDS theming is easier to keep clean than you may think! Not only are our products perfectly suited to regular cleaning in a clinical setting, but they are resistant to fading and scuffing. 


Easy to Clean 3D Products

Regular soap and water solution is all you need to clean our products – which also neutralizes the Coronavirus! It’s really that easy. Check out the video to see the science behind the destructive virus-killing power of soap.

If you need to sanitize your products beyond what soap can do, we have also tested a variety of medical-grade cleaners such as ED Everyday DisinfectantCavicide, and a bleach & water solution with no damage to our products. 

Regardless of what cleaning product you may use, we want you to have confidence that your creations from IDS will stay looking fresh for a long time. We always recommend cleaning with a damp sponge or cloth and a light touch (no scrubbing required here!)

Easy to Clean Wall Murals

Wall murals are just as easy to clean as a regular painted wall. Again, no special cleaning supplies are necessary. Gently spot clean messes or high traffic areas with soap and water using a soft sponge or cloth. 

Our selection of I Spy Murals offers hands-free entertainment in the form of a scavenger hunt! Each mural comes with a list of items hidden within the scenery, just waiting to be uncovered. It is a great way to capture a child’s imagination, and parents appreciate that they don’t need to resort to screen time to keep the kiddos occupied.

Our I Spy Murals have seen a burst in popularity in hospital treatment rooms as a great solution to keep kids entertained while providing hands-free fun and colorful decor in an otherwise drab space.

Check out these related resources for preparing your office for the ‘new normal’:

5 Tips to Prepare Your Waiting Room for the New Normal

Our Top 5 Hands-Free Waiting Room Ideas to Engage and Entertain Patients

COVID-19 protocols can make appointments feel scary and cause additional stress in children during dental and medical visits. In stressful times like today, it is more important than ever to keep kids calm and distracted while visiting the doctor or dentist. Theming is a proven strategy to help keep pediatric patients occupied, displacing treatment anxiety. Call today with any more questions about IDS theming: 1-888-884-4102.



  • envelope


Unlocking Success: Tips and Tricks for Applying for Grants

Tips for Adding Themed Decor to Your Church

How to Attract Staff to Your Dental Practice… and Keep Them!

5 Tips to Prepare Your Waiting Room for the New Normal

As practice and clinic owners begin focusing their attention on reopening, we rounded up a few tips we thought you might find helpful. 

For a more in-depth checklist on how to keep you, your staff, and your patients safe, check out this great article by AAPD. Most importantly, check with your local, state, and federal governments and implement any required regulations for reopening your practices.


1. Revise Your Waiting Area Seating Arrangement

There are many options to consider, so do what works best for your space. Some options include removing chairs, adding curtains/sheets between seats, or spreading your chairs out into unused areas/rooms if you have the space to accommodate. If you see kids in your practice, consider arranging chairs in ‘pods’ to accommodate the patient, a parent, and possibly a sibling. If you have IDS benches or other connected seating options, consider marking designated seats to help patients keep their distance from one another.

2. The Less People in the Waiting Room, the Better

If you want to eliminate non-essential personnel in the building, ask patients and their families to wait/fill out any paperwork in their car. Call or text them on their cell phones when you are ready for them to come in. You can ask that any additional family members remain in the car if possible, to avoid overcrowding the waiting room or treatment area.

3. Reduce the Number of Interactive Touchpoints

Reduce the number of patient interaction touchpoints. For example, wipe downs pens and credit card machines between patients and lessen pen/form transfers through contactless solutions, such as emailing receipts.

4. Help Maintain the Distance

Use floor stickers to encourage your patients to allow proper social distancing from front of house staff and other patients waiting inside. To help with this, IDS has created a variety of floor stickers based on our most popular themes, available for you to order a cost.

Go to or call 1-888-884-4102 to request social distancing floor stickers for your office.

5. Eliminate Unnecessary Contact Points

Reduce the number of contact points in your waiting room. Mark play areas off-limits and turn off video game consoles; take away any magazines or toys that you would normally provide to your patients to help pass the time.

Check out these related resources for preparing your office for the ‘new normal’:

Our Top 5 Hands-Free Waiting Room Ideas to Engage and Entertain Patients

FAQ about Covid-19 and Keeping Your Theming Clean

We hope you found these tips insightful. Visit our Facebook page and let us know if you have any other great tips for implementing social distancing measures in a professional environment!



  • envelope


Unlocking Success: Tips and Tricks for Applying for Grants

Keep Guests on Track with 7 Types of Fun Wayfinding Signage for Pediatric Healthcare Spaces

Tips for Creating a Presentation Area in Your Children’s Library




Add a note to this photo: