Back when head scratching was a common gesture on my part, hygienists would tell me that jobs were plentiful everywhere except the right office.
I would scratch my head, of course. Is this like looking for Mr. Right? Well, sort of. You simply could not waltz into a job at the office for the best dentist-employer in town. Hygienists worked forever in those great offices. Job openings were like winning the lottery after watching the pot steadily increase over weeks and weeks. You couldn’t move fast enough with your winning numbers as some other sneaky dental hygienist beat you with his or her job application. You then just sat back and waited for the next job opening while continuing to work at your “eh” place of employment, where the joy of delivering oral health was slowly being drained from you. Not much has changed. The job market dived for a while there when any opening in a dental office was a blessed signal from above. The job market has gotten better, though, in most areas, and the search is on again for Mr./Ms. Right’s dental office. I have often heard that the best office doesn’t have the best salary in the neighborhood, or the most skilled local restorative clinician.
I was reading a couple of workplace articles on Next Avenue, which is a website that is part of the Public Broadcasting System. The website interviewed Ron Friedman, PhD, who is the author of The Best Place to Work. Our world is full of published lists that lead unhappy workers to where the happy workers are - “The 50 best corporations to work for,” for example. Friedman said, “I think the lists that look most closely at the psychological experiences, and whether they’re fulfilling their employees’ needs, are the most effective at determining whether they have engaged workforces.” One quote from that interview that I liked was, “A company can have the most expensive billiards table in the world, but if there’s a stigma around taking breaks, that won’t create an environment of playfulness. It comes down to the attitude of the managers.” If there’s a profession that deals with the “stigma” of breaks, it’s the dental hygiene profession.
The other Next Avenue article was an adaptation from the book, Happy Hour is 9 to 5. The author is Alexander Kjerulf, who touts himself as being the “Chief Happiness Officer.” Kjerulf writes that “results and relationships” are likely the keys to a happy work life. Results that lead to happiness are not a particularly surprising revelation to dental hygienists, since they write about it all the time. Kjerful’s methods of fostering workplace happiness are offering and receiving praise, celebrating success stories, and helping our colleagues. Are you stunned by this? Probably not.
But let’s get back to the patient waiting some of us do for filing another job application at Mr./Ms. Right’s dental office. You may already be at the right office. For example, Kjerulf talks about simple things such as saying “good morning” to colleagues upon arriving at work, or performing random acts of kindness for colleagues to foster good relationships, which is also important in workplace happiness. Surprising, eh? You’ve heard this before too. Kjerulf’s advice is, “Instead of choosing the job with the fanciest office or the loftiest title, pick the one where you can have great results and relationships. That will ultimately lead to a much better work life and home life.”
There should be no head-scratching needed when finding the perfect dental setting for your career.