Workplace Stress

You’ve heard of it, you may know someone who has had it, you may have it.

Work place stress can be an outcome of many different factors from not having the right work life balance, strained workplace relationships, being unfairly treated, workload, lack of support and poor management, to changes at work such as those we have recently seen from the Coronavirus pandemic

Stress is part of everyday life and it can be helpful and motivating but when stress becomes overwhelming it can have a huge impact on an individual. Understanding and recognising the signs and symptoms of workplace stress early on is important for employees and employers to prevent the stress from spiralling into something more serious.

Workplace stress can present in many ways from physical symptoms to behavioural changes and it is important that individuals can identify symptoms and know what to do if they are struggling. It is also important that the employer can identify people who are struggling to be able to support them.

As an employer what can you do?

Complete a mental health course.

As an employer the mental wellbeing of your staff has to be a priority and having systems in place which support and help prevent workplace stress from presenting in your employees is one of the biggest steps you can take. It is important you have a good knowledge of what the signs and symptoms are so that you can manage it. All too often employers haven’t recognised or explored the possibility that someone is suffering from stress. They see someone who is struggling as a ‘problem’ employee, they are off sick, become disruptive, have a lack of motivation or turn up late. This person is then managed for poor attendance or performance, consequently further negatively impacting the situation. A course will provide you the knowledge you need to understand mental health, be able to manage staff and help prevent workplace stress from being present in your practice.Implement stress reducing activities

Working in a busy dental practice can be stressful enough but now working in enhanced PPE, having more procedures and policies to adhere to and dealing with worried and anxious patients can all equate to an even more stressful day. These stressors may become to much for some employees so it is important to have systems or activities in place which allow staff some downtime or to engage in something different, which isn’t another work activity, but some form of stress reducing activity to help them stay mentally well.

As an employee what can I do?

Ask for support

Asking for support is one of the most important things you can do and don’t be afraid to do it. Everyone needs help from time to time. Discussing your concerns with your manager is important, simply taking about it can help but by working together to look at ways of dealing with your worries is a great step.

If you can’t speak with your manager, speak with the HR department or a trusted colleague.

  • Look after your physical health

Good physical health impacts positively on your mental health. Stress relief is one of the most common ways exercise can benefit your mental health. Take a walk in your dinner break, even if its not so nice outside don’t let the weather be an excuse, wrap up and get some fresh air and stretch your legs and notice how much better you feel.

Even after work, don’t just go home and put your feet up with a glass of wine. Take 15 minutes to do some yoga or a power workout, it will clear your mind and help you unwind from the day.

Don’t ignore work related stress. Get informed https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Why do dental care professionals (DCPs) need to have a DBS check?

The DBS check is an essential part in the recruitment process to ensure the appropriate vetting and safeguarding measures are in place to help keep those who are known to pose a risk to people, who use CQC registered services (dental practices), out of their workforce. DBS checks in dentistry ensure that patients receive safe, reliable and appropriate care, but how do you know which level of check to complete when recruiting a new staff member?

The check you complete will be determined by the individuals role in the delivery of the regulated activity, in the instance of dentistry this is healthcare.  A practice should have a system in place to determine the level of DBS check it will conduct based on the duties of the role in which the individual will be employed. To assist with this the DBS recently launched an eligibility tool to help, which you can find by clicking on this link Eligibility Tool. In dentistry however, the below levels of DBS check are required.

Dentists are at the forefront of providing healthcare services to patients, therefore will be eligible for an enhanced level of DBS check with a check against both the children’s and adult’s barred lists.

Dental nurses will also be providing healthcare to patients, so they too will be requiring an enhanced DBS check against the barred lists.

Non-clinical staff typically require a standard check, however an in-depth assessment about their role and duties should be undertaken to assess the level of check required to maintain safeguarding.

Have you got it right?

CQC Guidance on DBS Checks

Hepatitis B and other vaccinations for the dental team

Dental care professionals (DCP) who are directly and indirectly involved in care can be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted to and from clinicians and patients.  It is important therefore, that practitioners and other team members should be vaccinated to protect against exposure to infectious agents and minimise the risk of cross infection. 

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis B virus. It is transmitted through contact with blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids, hence a DCP who is in direct contact with these fluids increase their risk of contracting the virus.

It is important therefore, that DCPs manage their risk by having a course of vaccinations to protect them. Three vaccinations are required for full protection with a blood test taken 1-4 months after the third vaccination to check if the body has made proteins to protect against the hepatitis B virus.

A preferable blood titre reading is above 100mlU/ml, however around 10-15% of adults fail to respond to three doses of vaccine or respond poorly.  Poor responders with titres of 10 to 100mlU/ml should have a booster and those with a titre below 10mlU/ml should repeat the course.

DCPs should have evidence of their hepatitis B vaccinations including blood result, so they can reference it for themselves and have it available to an employer who will need to ensure the DCP is safe to work. The CQC require that employers have all DCPs hepatitis B immunisation history showing the blood result filled with their employee documents.

Dental staff should also be up to date with their routine immunisations, including:

  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Polio
  • MMR
  • BCG

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Insurance – it’s not a nice to have it’s a MUST have!

All Dental Care Professionals by law are required to have indemnity protection or indemnity insurance in place.  On registration and upon renewal with the GDC you have to make a declaration that you have insurance in place and any false claim is a serious issue.

It is the individuals responsibility to put insurance in place for themself or if employed, the employer might have a membership scheme in place for its employees; however it is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that they are covered for all locations that they work at and for all the duties that they do.

Having the right insurance in place is essential, as one day you might just need to use it.

If you want to understand more about indemnity insurance the GDC have clear advice in their guidance document GDC Guidance.

Compliance

You can’t shy away from it or pretend it not’s there.

And

You can’t hope you will get away without adhering to it.

It is an absolute necessary!

From employment to industry specific compliance you must dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. You must make sure you are meeting all the regulations to protect yourself, whether you are the employer or the employee, and of course it’s essential for the safeguarding of your patients.

There is no escaping from compliance, the likes of the Employment Agency Standards and the CQC will carry out inspections to ensure your compliance is 100% right.

Where are you at with yours?

Accepting Change

You have a great team, they are fun, lovely to work with and care for each other BUT the basic daily tasks just aren’t getting done. It’s driving you mad.

You’ve asked nicely

You’ve used incentives

You’ve delegated

You’ve made people accountable

You’ve begged!

Jobs are still not getting done.

You have become the nagging practice owner. You only ask that the surgery draws are re-stocked or the clinical bins put out, it’s not much is it? Well you wouldn’t have thought so but then another week passes and the same problems are still there.

You are frustrated. You love your team and you only ask that they listen and do what you ask but your requests have become background noise.

What do you do?

You know you don’t have the time to manage accountability, you don’t have time to manage expectations and you don’t have the time to keep putting things right.

It’s time for change. It’s time for plan B (or is it now plan Z). It’s time to get help.

Second Choices.

Pre pandemic, if you could get 3 applicants to a job advert, you would be happy. Speak to an agency you would get a few more. 5-6 applicants. These were good odds. You had a decent chance of getting a great new recruit.

Post pandemic, there are 30 applicants for a job!

Arguably , there is now no need for an agency.

30 great applicants.

30 applicants to pre interview. Short list. Formally interview and then offer.

29 applicants to let down.

All the same, you’ll definitely have yourself a great new recruit.

That is, if you have the time.

Great candidates aren’t waiting for your call. They are chasing jobs, lots of jobs and, yes talking to lots of agencies. If your going to wait till the weekend or your half day to respond to an applicant, chances are they’ve already got an interview lined up elsewhere.

Still, you have 29 other options or shall we call them Second choices.

Workload too much?

Everyday you are fire fighting to complete the essential tasks of running a practice but each day more actions are added onto your list with no more time to do them. It’s like playing a game of snakes and ladders, you are steadily moving along, completing tasks and climbing the ladders and then stopping you in your tracks a new problem hits, down the snake you go. With every next shake of the dice you hope this time things will be different getting to climb all the ladders to come out as the winner, but the same thing keeps happening day in day out and your next throw of the dice leads you to another snake.

It’s a draining position to be in when your days are spent exhaustively trying to do the day job, run a practice, manage the team and complete all the admin. You know it isn’t going to get better so what do you do?

  • Delegate the workload         =>           (you’ve tried but it just doesn’t get done)
  • Carry on as you are              =>           (I’ll be ill if I do, it’s not an option)
  • Employ a manager to help  =>          (an extra pair of hands is something I really need)

Have you fallen out of love with your workplace?

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The start of the year is often the time when we reflect on our lives and wonder whether we’ve made the right choices in our careers. Lack of development opportunities, high pressure environments and little or no recognition can make us wonder whether it’s time for a change. Indeed, this year’s State of Workplace Happiness report reveals that across the board, all UK employees are gradually becoming unhappier. In 2017, 51 percent of people surveyed said they were happy at work most of the time compared to only 41% percent at the start of 2020.

Dentistry. It’s another world.

Dentistry, it’s an indispensable profession and let’s be honest, there’s excellent job security. No robot or technology is going to take your place anytime soon. On the downside, dental roles aren’t always the most joyous or fulfilling. Patients use your service out of necessity, are often fearful and can be disgruntled at having to pay for a service that many believe should be still be free on the NHS. Meanwhile, dental staff fall under the increasing pressures of higher targets, increased bureaucracy, lower budgets and increased regulation. Is it any wonder that those who work in dentistry are almost twice as likely to feel dissatisfied with life compared with the rest of the population?

Make your practice a place that your employees love

The 2020 State of Happiness workplace report found that happy employees are 20 per cent more productive, so why not take steps now to make your practice a lovelier place to work?

Encourage social interaction and engagement

New research by The Institute of Leadership & Management reveals workplace friendships are key to keeping people happy in their role. 77% of survey respondents cited good relationships with colleagues as the most important factor in determining job satisfaction, even rating it as more of a factor than their pay. Holding away days or the occasional social evening will help colleagues build rapport that will improve trust and aid cooperation when at work.

Give everyone a contributing role

Employees that value their purpose and understand how they are making a genuine contribution to the organisation they work for feel more satisfied at work, particularly if they have an influence in how a business is run. Team meetings are good for letting colleagues know about any changes to processes and procedures, but they can also be used to gather useful feedback and observations from staff who are working on the front line. Dental nurses and hygienists may notice problems that management staff may not and can provide useful suggestions for business improvement.

Invest in communications development for your team

From the dental receptionist to the 30-year experienced dentist, everyone needs to advance their skills and knowledge throughout their career. Despite this, many practices don’t provide enough training, particularly in softer skills such as communication. In 2019, Dentistry.co.uk reported that over 65% of dentists have struggled to communicate with their patients, and more than 60% sometimes found that patients hadn’t understood what they were being told. Communication workshops not only help staff build better rapport with their patients, but can also improve working relationships. A surprising two-thirds of dentists also felt that they could make more money if they just improved their communication.

Applying just a few simple changes will certainly boost employee morale and can also ensure that your staff stick with you for longer, offering greater continuity and consistency in your practice and an all-round better client experience.

If you’re looking for new or temporary staff, why not give us a call?  With 10 years in dental recruitment, we know what works and what doesn’t. We can find the best people for your practice. Call us today on 01274 722122.

Ensure staff absence is covered legally

Managing staff absence in January is a frequent challenge for practice managers. Locums are high in demand and short in supply and there’s the added pressure of ensuring that staff costs remain within budget. It can be tempting to hire that quick cash-in-hand locum at an attractive rate, even when supplied through a third party. No tax and no deductions save a lot of money and a lot of administration too.

Hiring staff in this way has its ramifications. Staff who are paying tax, National Insurance, pension contributions, and other deductions begin to wonder why they bother and the animosity and resentment soon creep in. Employee’s salaries are often kept low because their value is being correlated against those who aren’t paying tax. It’s unfair and demoralising. On the other hand, the practice thinks it’s on to a winner. Cheap, uncomplicated labour, what’s not to like? Unless of course, there’s an investigation.

The simplicity of reporting the non-payment of tax through the anonymous government form at https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/shortforms/form/TEH_IRF means that any practice could become subject to an investigation. If this goes ahead, even if the practice is hiring locums through a third party, it will be asked to show that it has performed due diligence in the following areas:

1) Does the agent have a payroll system?
2) What is the agent’s employer PAYE reference number?
3) Will the tax and NI be collected and how will the locum be paid?
4) If someone has declared themselves self-employed, what’s their UTR number?

If there are unpaid taxes and fines, these may be levied on the dental practice and the information may make its way to the GDC, who are not keen on fraud. Let’s also not forget the cost to the public purse. Money collected from taxes is used to fund the NHS, schools, the fire service, the police and the many other services we depend on.