Boosting Morale in the Workplace: Dental Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, Right?

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It doesn’t matter if you are a part-time or full-time hygienist. You are at your office or other dental health setting for the majority of the day or week. Sometimes, you are at work more than you are at home. Am I right? Employees working together collaboratively and giving 100% every day will guarantee success.

Doesn’t this sound great for everyone? Wouldn’t your employer love this as well? We all want to have a pleasant work experience each day and not dread going to work every day. The best way to succeed in anything is to get down to a personal level.

Boosting morale at the office can create many long-term benefits, such as:

  1. A more enjoyable work environment
  2. An increase in the quality of work provided by employees, which then increases success and happiness
  3. The morale boost is fun or something to look forward to, often creating the impression of a shortened workweek.
  4. Feeling part of a team or a work-family

Who are Your Colleagues?

You see most of your co-workers every time you walk in the office door. Most of the time, you start to learn more about who they are outside of work. Everyone is different, of course, so you may not become best friends with everyone. Co-workers do share some sort of small relationship or acquaintance status. If you understand how different people and different personalities tick and work, you can then avoid conflicts and clashing personalities.

If you are lucky enough, you start to grow closer and become friends. If most people in your office get along, I would define this as your work family. Finding your work home with a work family is not always an easy task. You may search for years, or maybe you won the lottery and found it immediately. I’ve been lucky to work in offices where I have gotten to know many different dental hygienists and dental professionals.

Why have your work environment be miserable? An easy way to improve work relationships is having conversations, such as non-work topics, at appropriate times. Ask questions! You can ask your co-workers about their hobbies, favorite restaurants, and family, just to name a few examples. We ask patients a ton of questions to get a better understanding, so why not use a similar approach with co-workers?

Other Team Activities

Another way to get to know your co-workers is through interaction outside of the office. The best way to do this, plus improve team morale, is by doing activities as a team. It also allows everyone to look forward to something. Here are some suggestions and ideas for boosting morale and team bonding:

  1. Going out for a meal
  2. Have a holiday party, or celebrate a birthday or work anniversary
  3. Go to a paint night
  4. Visit an escape room (What better way is there for getting to know your co-workers than being locked up in a room together?)
  5. Attend local events in your community
  6. Host a fundraiser for an organization in need
  7. Host a table at a health fair (advocate for dental care, discuss dental services you provide)
  8. Attend continuing education courses/conferences together
  9. Participate in a 5K

Planning these activities does not have to happen every week. They can be on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. It all depends on your specific work team.

Some offices may face challenges getting together, such as commuting or busy personal schedules after work. If your office is not into doing or cannot do things outside of the office, think about what you can do within your workplace. Getting some food together during everyone’s lunch break at a nearby location or takeout is an easy solution. Who doesn’t like eating out?

Even the simplest or smallest things can make a difference in team morale. For example, have a birthday party or birthday cake for an employee’s birthday. Wear your favorite sports team jersey on a Friday or the day of the big game. Like Halloween? Wear a costume to work or have a pumpkin carving contest.

In Closing

Don’t lose hope in finding your work family. It may take time, so give it a chance and be patient. You may be surprised. The more time you spend with your co-workers, the more communication you will have. You get to know them more each day, and you may not even realize it.

I believe that this profession allows hygienists to get to know many different types of dental professionals, which is always a great benefit!

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Kaitlyn Machado, RDH, BS, MEd, FADHA
Since a very young age, Kaitlyn Machado, RDH, BS, MEd, FADHA, has always wanted to be a dental hygienist. She was the youngest student to graduate from her dental hygiene class in 2017. Since then, Kate has returned for her bachelor's and master's degrees. She is a faculty member at her local dental hygiene school and a clinical dental hygienist. Kate has been a part of Today's RDH since its launch. She is extremely passionate about homecare, loves her prophy paste and fluoride varnish, and enjoys attending professional conferences. In addition, Kate loves to work with a local non-profit organization that helps fight against hygiene insecurity of all ages in her community. As a lifelong learner, she enjoys being as involved as possible in the dental hygiene profession. When Kate isn't working, she enjoys traveling, sports, watching movies, and spending time with her amazing, supportive family.