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6 Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress for Your Dental Staff

By John Calderon on December 2, 2016 in Dental Business

holidaystressDecember is a hectic month with the holidays, parties, and vacations. Add in ramped up end-of-year production in your dental practice and it’s no wonder your staff is feeling stressed.

While maintaining your own sanity during this time is crucial, it’s important to keep your entire practice in mind as well. So how do you keep everyone feeling energized and happy while they’re dealing with the rest of their holiday commitments?

Here are a few tips to ensure your dental staff gets some stress relief during the holidays and keep them happy even with increased workloads and long hours.

Holiday events/dinners

Probably the most traditional morale booster, holiday parties are a great way to show your appreciation for your staff.  Timing it later in December is a good idea, as it gives everyone something to look forward to before they head out for a hard-earned break with their loved ones. Whether your practice is small or large, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to show your appreciation. A lunch or dinner at a favorite restaurant or an evening out at a cozy lounge where you pick up the tab is sure to be appreciated by your staff.

Decorations/cookie party

If you don’t have the money or time to set up a formal party or get-together, you can still bring a fun atmosphere for socializing to your practice. Set aside some time at the end of the day on a Friday for the staff to get together to decorate the office. People can be responsible for bringing specific items, and you can even serve holiday treats like cookies and egg nog. Maybe even set up a playlist of your favorite holiday tunes to really give everyone on staff some much needed holiday stress relief.

The gift of time

No matter what holiday you celebrate, there just never seems to be enough time to get ready. Combining the extra time shopping for gifts and decorating the house with longer hours at work is a recipe for stress. This year, think about what you can do to give your reduce the stress for your employees by giving them a gift of service. An MDT employee and dental assistant shared the story of a former boss who bought her a Christmas tree. He knew she hadn’t had time to go shopping for one, so had it delivered to her house! Consider hiring a local teen to as a gift wrapping elf for your staff.  Purchase wrapping paper, boxes and tags – then have your staff bring in their unwrapped gifts with a sticky note stating the recipient and giver. Checking a ‘to do’ task off their holiday list is a sure way to help relieve stress for your staff.

White Elephant gift exchange

Another fun way to incorporate gift-giving into your morale efforts is to play a game of White Elephant. If you haven’t played before, White Elephant involves each participant bringing a small or gag gift (usually under a set dollar amount). Participants then take turns unwrapping gifts, which can then be stolen by other participants. Instead of having your staff buy the presents, you could buy several small gifts (coffee shop gift cards, portable water bottles, etc.) and have the staff duke it out (playfully, of course) over the best presents.

Warm up the winter with competition

Don’t underestimate the value of prize incentives. Creating a competition for the winter months that leads to a cash bonus or other desirable prizes may be just the trick to keeping your staff engaged and eager throughout the holiday crush. Plus, it can double as a marketing tool. Award points to staff members who get the most patients to refer new patients, or those who get the most patients in for end of year cleanings and treatment. Depending on the size of your staff, you can even split them into smaller groups to increase teamwork and camaraderie. To get the best results, make sure all staff members have chances to earn points. It’s OK to give points for a task that only front staff can complete (like getting likes on your Facebook) as long as there are points for tasks for the back staff too.   Get your patients involved too – give every patient a ‘great job’ chip and ask them to award to a staff member who is particularly friendly.  Yes, you guessed it, the ‘great job’ chips are redeemable for points or prizes.

Early release

A simple, yet underrated classic. After a long month jam-packed with appointments, what better way to say thanks to everyone by letting them take off a little bit early the day before Christmas break? If things go according to plan, you will have been so busy all month, you won’t mind shutting down a bit early.


Whether or not you anticipate a larger-than-usual influx of patients for December, make sure you’re prepared for the rush by engaging in holiday stress relief for your staff. Employing a few of these tips can go a long way to not only showing your employees some love, but maintaining a productive staff during a time when it’s most needed.

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