Social Needs (Love and Belonging)

Humans have a need for friendship and acceptance. The theme song from a classic TV show "Cheers" poses the question “Wouldn’t you like to go where everybody knows your name?” To create a warm feeling in the practice so patients feel welcome there needs to be an office atmosphere where team members experience warmth and friendship. Patients will be happier and more relaxed in an office where there is happiness and humor. Additionally, allow patients to join in the fun, whenever possible, to give them a sense of love and belonging to the practice and not just a place to satisfy their oral health needs.

The goal is to promote camaraderie and caring in the workplace. If the dentist has no sense of humor, he/she should stand back and delegate the responsibility of office levity to team members. Celebrate birthdays, practice anniversaries, promotions, etc. with barbecues, cakes and ice cream for the entire team.

Some ideas are:

  • Dress up for Halloween.
  • Have a beach day in winter. Fill the office with beach balls and have the team members dress in shorts and Hawaiian shirts.
  • Have a "No Cavity Club Drawing" each month. Patients are entered in a drawing for prizes when they complete treatment or return for their recall appointment in perfect oral health. Prizes include gift certificates, dinners, flowers, tickets to shows, movies and sporting events.
  • Any day is Sundae. Patients make their own sundae at the end of the appointment. The team members and dentist are required to eat leftovers.
  • Celebrate ethnic and cultural holidays with a themed lunch for team members and patients, i.e., Pizza, Chinese food, bagels, Irish soda bread, etc.
  • Bring in cakes to celebrate birthdays, engagements and weddings, births, etc.
  • Replace that burnt coffee pot with a selection of gourmet coffees and tea.
  • Create a scrapbook as the practice grows over time illustrating team members' (past and current) activities and celebrations.
  • Have a massage therapist come to the office for the day and give team members and patients a chair massage.
  • Bring in a catered lunch in a picnic basket, spread a blanket in the reception area or private office and have a picnic lunch.
  • Provide employees tickets to a (rock) concert and see if you can get the band to give the office a shout out during the concert.
  • Provide the team members with team jerseys with the practice name, logo and the team members' name on the back. The jerseys can be worn outside the office, especially during practice outreach programs.
  • Pick a day and let team members come in late or leave early for a staff breakfast or dinner.
  • Hold an annual summer or fall barbecue with team members and their families.
  • Close the office to allow team members to attend an annual conference for training as a group.
  • Host a lunch with team members during practice hours with the stipulation that no practice issues be discussed.
  • Have team members assign nicknames to each other and create a board with their pictures and names.
  • Close the office a half day a month to allow team members to volunteer at a community activity, i.e., health fair, special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity. Have them wear their practice jerseys.
  • Start a team. It doesn’t matter if it's summer softball or bowling. It will build relationships, camaraderie and respect among team members.11
  • Set up a dunking machine in your parking lot. Have the doctors and managers sit above the tank and have team members and patients take aim at the target to dunk the victims.11