Sign-On or Stay-On Bonus?

By: Dr. David Rice

The great resignation, team-turnover, call it what you will, is dentistry’s single greatest problem today and will continue to be for the next 1 to 1.5 years. With that, many practices have turned to sign-on bonuses in an attempt to attract top talent. 

The problem is, that it’s not helping retain them.

STOP Rewarding Bad Behavior!

How many stories have you heard about practices onboarding a new team member with a sign-on bonus as long as they stay X number of days? And how many more stories have you heard about said teammates leaving at X + 1 day?

So why do we keep doing it?

For me, this looks a lot like the free offer to attract a patient into your practice and the shock that follows when that patient moves on after they’ve collected their freebie. Now, that’s not how it always rolls. There are of course some practices that have strategized a back end. But let’s be honest, by large-that front-end gift has rarely worked well.

“We teach people how to treat us”, so be careful what you teach.

START Rewarding Great Behavior!

How many stories have you heard about upset existing teammates who stuck it out during the hard times for a thank you? And how many more stories have you heard about stunned dentists when those loyal teammates jump ship out of the blue?

So why do we keep doing it?

There are three components to your epic success. 

  1. Your Vision
  2. Your Culture
  3. Your Habits

If your vision is to have an amazing practice with a team that stays, you’re going to need a strong culture. If you want a strong culture, you’re going to need outstanding daily habits. Now flip that recipe. When you have strong daily habits, you create culture. And when you’ve created an incredible culture, you fulfill your vision.

Stay-On Bonus

So, instead of a sign-on bonus to someone you don’t know at all, how about a stay-on bonus for teammates you already know-like-and trust?

  • I’m guessing you’ve noticed the most successful practices share a vision of a stable team.
  • I imagine you’ve witnessed that teams that stay, like, and respect each other, love their culture.
  • I know you’ve read that consistent, excellent habits drive consistent excellent results.

Develop a Consistent Team

All of those rely on you and me developing and keeping a consistent team. 

Importance of a consistent team:

  • Keeping your amazing team translates to efficient and effective systems.
  • Losing your team translates to losing money AND your patient’s trust.

How to maintain a consistent team:

  • Sit with your financial team and assess the financial state of your practice.
  • Know what you can afford in team salaries.
  • If there’s room to increase your team’s take-home, do it.
  • If there ISN’T room for that, stay-on bonus.

Let’s Win

Stop rewarding bad behavior and start rewarding great behavior. When you and I keep our winning team together, our patients win…our practice wins… and we win!

Photo by Alexander Mils

David Rice

David Rice

Founder of the nation’s largest student and new-dentist community, igniteDDS, David R. Rice, DDS, travels the world speaking, writing, and connecting today’s top young dentists with tomorrow’s most successful dental practices. He is the editorial director of DentistryIQ and leads a team-centered restorative and implant practice in East Amherst, New York. With 27 years of practice in the books, Dr. Rice is trained at the Pankey Institute, the Dawson Academy, Spear Education, and most prolifically at the school of hard knocks.