How do I attract and retain Associate Dentists at my UK Dental Practice?

Just last month, devastating news from CNBC took a concerned lot of Brits by storm. It claimed that ever since the UK’s economy shrank by 0.1% in March, forecasts suggest that the economy is ‘only going to get worse’ as the growth slowdown surfaces with further expected contractions this year. This perturbing prediction has been indebted to the twin crisis of COVID-19 and Brexit that caused a disturbance in the structural framework of the UK’s otherwise stable economy.

Following the shocking economic aftermath of the pandemic coupled with the UK’s departure from the EU, business confidence has taken an alarming nosedive. Half of UK firms claim to have been facing difficulty recruiting new workers, while one in five is battling acute issues retaining existing staff. The tragedy of COVID has sparked a wave of resignations, work hours are to be compensated for, and in general, the recruitment processes of these aspiring companies are arduously flawed.

In the race to become the best and brightest company within a surplus of great business opportunities, it is important for these organisations to formulate a solid recruitment strategy to land top prospects. What are skilled candidates of today’s fast-paced generation looking to invest their time and resources in? When scoping for talents, it becomes of critical significance that the company knows what they are looking for in order to pivot their company vision into action. However, they make a common mistake by attempting to fill their recruiting funnel with as many candidates as possible.

Yes, what today is known as “passive candidacy”, the employers of these companies advertise jobs that do not exist, in hopes of finding people who might be useful to their purpose in the future. Hiring is now done with such perfunctory motive that the pool of viable candidates is swiftly shrinking, allowing HR sections in deprived companies to enter a space of candidacy vacuum. Unfortunately, this practice has also become a common sight in the dental sector.

Problems with recruiting in the dental industry

At this point in time, ‘recruitment’ isn’t simply a talk about semantics. Instead, we are looking onto bigger and more innovative aspects that have factored in to attract and retain talents into the business vortex. Although the dental recruitment market managed to bounce back with regale efficiency post-lockdown of the job-seeking travesty, new analysis from the British Dental Association (BDA) reveals that there are certain problems with recruiting associates that have become an endemic across the country.

Recruitment issues, which were previously seen as a problem indigenous to the rural areas have now been shown to affect the major cities as well. Only London and the South East have been seeing a slightly more buoyant market of associates who are looking for work. Other cities like Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, and Leeds are all currently suffering from a shortage of capable associates and are now joining the older recruitment blackspots of Cumbria, Cornwall, and Lincolnshire.

If this wasn’t bad enough, statistics from the BDA have also brought to light the fact that NHS roles are consistently less favoured than private jobs. For the first time in recent history, there have been early indications that the NHS primary care dentist headcount has been depleting drastically in England and Wales. The number of primary care NHS dentists in England from 2020 to 2021 has fallen by 951. This has managed to take the NHS dental workforce headcount in England to its lowest level since 2013/14.

It is no news that in today’s recruitment trend attracting top talent requires more than just an enticing job advert. In fact, in addition to structuring work processes and promoting a healthy work environment, it is crucial to ensure that you hire competent associate dentists to spearhead a campaign of integrity, diligence, and marketable success. Unfortunately for many practices, getting beyond the starting line has posed to be a challenge.

In fact, reports claim that while most companies can successfully recruit prospective associates, about 90% of these companies are failing to do enough to encourage staff talent retention. So, what is the secret to keeping the ball rolling?

5 ways to fix your recruitment and retention problems

A good employee will redound greatly to the company’s success. The best way for your dental practice to gain a proficient associate dentist to man the station would be by creating a recruiting strategy to help you successfully identify, attract, and hire the right candidates for your open roles. 

The process of recruitment has changed vastly over the past decade, due to which your old hiring methods may no longer serve the purpose. Instead, turn to these easy tips to keep up with the newer demands of the recruitment world.

Update the job description

Once you have decided to go ahead with the transition of your practice, the first obvious step is to publish a grandeur job description that best flaunts your company values. Make sure to write a comprehensive and detailed job description that would attract more candidates to the position. If your practice has a lot of perks or has been recently updated with new technologies, be sure to share them upfront. Most important of all, however, is to be transparent with your clientele in order to build trust and reliance on your company principles.

Consider including details such as:

  • Scheduled days, hours, and options for flexibility
  • Type of clinical setting
  • Practice specialities
  • Range of salary
  • Compensation packages (signing, relocation, student loan assistance)
  • Holiday allotment 
  • Number of paid holidays
  • Visa sponsorships
  • Required certifications and licenses
  • Health and retirement saving benefits
  • Community outreach initiatives
  • Work/life balance perks
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • Extras or amenities

Promote your opening

It’s time to advertise, advertise, and advertise some more. Post details about the job position on employment websites, your company’s own career page, and all of the outlets your company is on, a.k.a with respect to social media. A popular option for advertising associate dentist job listings would be on

Creating an advert that well elaborates the necessary qualifications and requirements of the job helps narrow down the candidacy filter. You can better prescreen applicants by assessing the candidate profile information from the CVs they choose to submit, equipping you with an advanced approval-elimination process. Serving as a coda to the business model, state why your dental practice is a brilliant place to work and why a new associate should be interested in your practice out of the thousand others.

Hire internally

If a certain position is proving to be particularly difficult to fill, consider your in-house candidates. Rather than searching externally for skills you’re missing in your company, consider developing the existing talent you have.

This is a great opportunity for you to provide promotional and lateral windows for current employees. Post positions internally with reasonable application due dates to let your employees know beforehand. For any potential candidates, hold an interview. This is the best chance for you to know them better and learn about your goals and if they align with the company’s overall needs. 

Or perhaps, consider holding an employee referral program. It is reasonable to assume that great people often surround themselves with other highly capable professionals. Encourage your employees to refer the best talent they know and consider providing incentives for triumphant referrals with bonuses and contests to create excitement around the program.

Pay better than your competition

Most of the time, monetary baits work best. It is true that you get what you pay for in the job market. Make sure to survey your local job market and study the type of compensation that people in your industry tend to be attracted towards. Sometimes you may luck out and attract a person with incredible capabilities with a very little incentive. But these top tier talents will soon resent their pay scale, feel under appreciated, and ultimately leave for a job that pays better than what you are offering.

Therefore, it is always best to pay better than your competition because employee replacement costs can range anywhere from two to three times the person’s annual salary. That becomes counterintuitive and a big waste of your time.

Make sure you use your practice’s benefits to your advantage

Employees are rarely looking for just a paycheque to sustain their daily or monthly expenses. When considering staying with a current employer or finding a better one, younger employees are more likely to scrutinise desiring benefits that are not traditional in the workplace design. So, keep your benefits above industry standards. 

Employees cherish flexibility, precisely when work-personal life balance enters the conversation. If you cannot give them a good benefits package that includes standard benefits such as medical insurance, retirement, and dental insurance, chances are you will lose out on potentially suitable employees.

Some thoughtful benefits you can provide your employees are:

  • Healthcare and personal welfare
  • Preventive health and wellness benefits
  • Retirement and savings planning
  • Leave benefits
  • Flexible schedules
  • Career development benefits
  • Business travel perks
  • Relocation benefits
  • Student loan assistance
  • Comprehensive benefits

If you’re able to personalise the recruitment experience for your prospective employees, you will definitely be able to give your practice a competitive edge in the market. Running a successful dental practice relies less on trifling away your life savings but instead relies heavily on building the right team. That being said, hiring the right candidates is not as straightforward as it seems and you may take a few shuffles to get it just right.