man burned out with work sits at his laptopAcross the country, dental offices are reopening for all types of dental procedures. They are moving from emergency care only to more preventive and elective procedures. But this doesn’t mean we’re returning to business as usual. 

Instead, dental practices are now operating under additional restrictions and expectations, along with a host of new protocols designed to help reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus at the dental office. 

While this reopening means that revenue is increasing, the extra restrictions and protocols can be hard on your team, which can make them more likely to experience fatigue. This is a time to demonstrate leadership of your team to help them through this difficult time. Here’s some guidance to help you succeed. 

Signs of Fatigue to Watch for

How do you know if your team is starting to experience fatigue? There are many signs you can watch for, including:

  • Taking longer to do tasks
  • Making more mistakes
  • Forgetting conversations and recent events
  • Loss of initiative
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Signs of sleepiness
  • Accidents or near misses

Fatigue can make your team less productive. They can’t work as efficiently, taking more time to do the same tasks. Since there will already be some additional time due to the new protocols, fatigue can really draw out tasks that used to be very quick. Fatigued employees can also make more mistakes and have more accidents. 

But perhaps the best gauge of fatigue is the loss of mental acuity people experience. They can forget things much more often than in the past. They can also lose their drive to work spontaneously, and they can have difficulty solving problems. A loss of creative thinking is one of the first signs of fatigue. 

Reduce Sources of Fatigue

One of the key steps in managing fatigue among your employees is reducing the sources of their stress. Remember, there are three major causes of fatigue: Mental load, physical load, and environmental load. 

Mental load comes from mental job stresses, such as expectations, additional duties, irregular hours, relationships with coworkers, and their ability to control their situation. Physical load is the strain that comes from physical exertion in the workplace, which can include hard work, but also includes awkward postures and repetitive motion. Environmental load comes from things like uncomfortable temperatures, humidity, noise, and light. 

Do what you can to reduce these sources of fatigue. You can’t do much about the new protocols, but try lifting some of your team’s secondary duties, related to billing, scheduling, and selling. We know your practice depends on generating new revenue, but maybe now is not the time to make that your team’s priority. Encourage your team to adjust the workspace to meet their needs, as long as it still complies with protocols. There’s not much you can do about the light levels–they need to be bright–but make sure the temperature is comfortable, and maybe let your team have more control over the soundtrack. 

Doing these little things preemptively can help stave off fatigue in your team. 

Provide Help to Fatigued Team Members

woman holding her hands on her face, stressed out

If you do notice that team members are showing fatigue, it’s time to take action. First, it’s important to know your employees. Everyone experiences fatigue in different ways. A wisecracking reply from one employee might show they’re happy, but from another it could be a sign that they’re near breaking. 

Deal with fatigue on a personal level. Don’t bring the team together for anything more than a brief discussion about fatigue. First, larger gatherings are more stressful these days. Second, you don’t want to risk calling anybody out in front of the other employees. 

Make sure you’re listening. Just as people respond to fatigue in different ways, they can have different sources of fatigue. If your employees trust you, they will tell you why they’re wearing out. 

Perhaps most importantly, communicate that your expectations take into account the changed circumstances. People can be trying to live up to the old level of expectations despite the new responsibilities. Make sure they know that you aren’t expecting them to keep functioning at the same level, but have adjusted your expectations to meet the new situation. 

You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

Of course, you also have to watch your own fatigue levels. The problem of dealing with new protocols, along with financial stresses and uncertainty about the future can all weigh down on you, too. And maybe dealing with team stress is not something you’re prepared to handle right now. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to handle this alone. Help is available. If you are looking for someone who can help you get the most out of your team in this or any other situation, consultation with Dr. Shahin Safarian can provide you with guidance. Dr. Safarian is not just a dentist, he’s an MBA with extensive business training and experience in managing dental teams efficiently and effectively. It’s one of the secrets of achieving a 7 Figure Dental practice. 

Please call (858) 349-7996 today to start consultations with Dr. Safarian.