How Dental Practices Can Attract & Retain Great Talent During the Great Resignation

By: Katie Klaes

“I’m sorry, we are short staffed. Could you come back another day?”

I was at my local Acura car dealership for routine maintenance needs. In the eight years I’ve had my car, they’ve always taken care of me same-day. A little inconvenient, but I did not mind making an appointment for a later date because staffing issues are par for the course these days. Dentistry is no different.

So, how can dentists attract, and more importantly retain, great talent during the “Great Resignation”?

While it is helpful talking with other dentists about what works for them, it can also be beneficial to look at top companies that are industry leaders and see if there are any pearls that can be translated to the dental world.

One company that is consistently top rated for customer service is Chick-fil-A. What do they put in those chicken sandwiches that makes their employees so happy and willing to serve?

How Chick-fil-A Attracts and Retains Great Talent

1. Positive Culture

The culture and positive attitude start at the top. The company is upfront about its core values and mission statement. These values are important when it comes to who they hire.

2. Hiring Team Members that Fit Their Culture

The acceptance rate of franchisees is akin to acceptance rates to Ivy League schools. Those operators, in turn, make sure the team members they hire are a good fit for the company. While interviewing they focus on who you are as a person, not as a potential worker-bee.

3. Invests in Growing Team Members Skills

The company invests in growing team members’ skills, most notably leadership, communication, and relationship-building. These skills can translate to growth within the company or a different career outside it. They want to help employees reach their goals, regardless if they continue at Chick-fil-A or not.

This attitude really hits home to team members that they are valued and cared for as a person and not a number. In 2021 Chick-fil-A awarded $19 million in scholarships to team members to help in their pursuit of higher education.

4. Employees Comprehensivily Trained in Customer Service

Managers focus on creating a positive environment and train employees comprehensively in customer service. Forming relationships among team members is also emphasized. One team trainer remarked, “At the end of the day, if you form a good connection with your employees, it helps with performance and helps build respect and trust.” They empower employees to make independent decisions; for example, they tell them to not sweat a small expense to win a customer over.

What Can Dentists Take Away From the Chick-fil-A Employee Experience?

1. Walk the Talk of Your Core Values

Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, once said to his son, “I don’t want to ask people to do that what I am not willing to do myself.” As the leader of your team, you must meet the standards you set for employees.

2. Hire People Who are a Good Fit for Your Culture

Be upfront about your practice’s core values during the hiring process and if an employee is not a fit for your culture, do not hire them. Do not hire someone just because you need a warm body.

One negative team member can sour an entire office and lead to further employee attrition.

3. Take the Time to Train New Employees Well

The lengthy and intense training process for new Chick-fil-A employees pays off in spades when they are finally customer-facing.

Likewise, the time you invest in a new team member will pay off greatly when that employee has the confidence to do their job well and handle any situations that arise. This will also lead to you being able to delegate tasks to them, increasing their responsibilities and investment in the success of the practice.

4. Build Relationships with Your Team Members and Invest in Them

Employees don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. It is much more enjoyable to work for someone you like and respect, and know those feelings are reciprocated.

Monetary compensation is not the only factor that contributes to employee satisfaction; appreciation for your effort, autonomy, flexibility, and learning/career development all play a role. Trust and empower your employees to handle situations, and “don’t sweat a small expense to win a patient over!”

katie klaes

Katie Klaes

I hope this dive into Chick-fil-A culture has been helpful. What other industries would you like me to cover next? For questions and suggestions, please e-mail me at

Up Next: Benefits of Becoming a Dentist

Photo by Brad Stallcup on Unsplash

Katie Klaes

Katie Klaes

Katie has practiced general dentistry for 8 years and in her free time enjoys traveling, reading, and exploring Indy with her cavapoo Remy.