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Inside Dental Technology
April 2018
Volume 9, Issue 4

Total Rewards

Get and keep quality talent by linking clear objectives to compensation opportunities

Brian Forman

Companies are always exploring ways to motivate, attract, and retain employees. This impacts every company, regardless of size and demographics. In order to remain competitive in today's market, companies need to continue the traditional methods of providing total rewards to employees. In turn, this assists in the continued growth of the company's bottom line. This requires designing a benefits and compensation structure along with personal and professional growth opportunities. Formulating a well-planned compensation and benefits package that is competitive within the dental laboratory industry will provide the necessary edge to attain and retain critical human talent.

In the dental laboratory world, just as with other businesses, motivation begins with the employee's desire to excel. The company's role in motivating the employee is presenting opportunities to expand his or her knowledge base and provide a foundation for professional growth so the employee can become a greater asset. Motivation should include discussions with the employee's direct manager about career trajectory and what progress has been made. What can the employer do to help the employee reach career goals? It is a shared responsibility, but the employer should identify the employees who display talent and express desire to expand their knowledge in order to grow with the company. Most employees are motivated by compensation alone and may not always value the full benefits of a comprehensive package and other company perks (flexible time, paid time off, holiday bonuses, etc). Companies need to set up clear and defined objectives for employees-including a linkage to professional development, skills training, and compensation opportunities-so employees understand how they can align their personal goals with the company's objectives.

Only as Good as the Team You Build

Attracting top talent is a vital component to the long-term success of a company. If your laboratory has the foundation set up but not the right total rewards package, attracting the best employees will be more challenging. The business is only as good as the team it builds, so it makes perfect business sense to have the best available tools to offer employees. Making sure that the compensation ranges for the team's positions are in alignment with the rest of the industry and your laboratory's geographic location is key, along with providing a benefits package that is cost effective for the employees while remaining realistic about shared responsibility-another consideration that needs to be well thought out. The importance of developing a company culture that is warm, inviting, and fun and promotes growth cannot be underestimated. Employees appreciate an environment that is friendly and encourages equalization and growth among their peers.

Retaining Employees

Employee retention is one of the most challenging aspects of human resources. Particularly among younger demographics, the desire to switch jobs in today's market is more prevalent than ever. The average employee remains with a company for 5.5 years. Many times, the level of compensation drives an employee to other opportunities, but company perks that may not be offered at higher levels can contribute to the higher turnover rates. Employees are looking for flexible time, more paid time off, and further growth opportunities, as well.

The days of the 9-to-5 schedule are almost over. With the technology available today, employees are constantly plugged in and working longer hours. Companies can offer flexible schedules to be more accommodating to some employees as long as there is business continuity. While this isn't as realistic in the laboratory setting where much of the work is hands-on, using specialized equipment, it may be an option in certain roles or for certain types of tasks. Working remotely is also becoming more common and could be structured depending on business needs and the employee's position.

Paid time off has been a key company perk for many years and is one of the first questions asked when an offer is made, after compensation and benefits have been presented. It is rare for companies to offer unlimited paid time off. However, depending on the industry, some are offering 3 to 4 weeks of paid time off to new hires and lowering the tenure threshold for adding additional paid time off (for example, offering 7 additional days after only 5 years of service rather than 10).

Performance Incentives

Pay-for-performance is another traditional strategy that companies use to reward employees. Based on individual performance as measured in an annual review, along with an evaluation of the company's performance, a bonus plan can be structured. This requires a buy-in and discussion between the key decision makers. For a dental laboratory, this would be the principle owner or managers who have a vested interest in the business. It could be a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the employee's annual salary. The most important aspect of the pay-for-performance strategy is that both the employee and employer understand the metrics necessary to gain additional compensation within a given timeline. Pay-for-performance is also a great morale-building tool to retain and reward employees. It must be structured fairly so that all who are eligible have an equal opportunity. Making unattainable goals for employees devalues the purpose of having a pay-for-structure in the workplace.

Overall, there are many ways to retain, attract, and motivate employees. The right blend of tools and determining how to strategically utilize them is based on many factors including industry type, company size, culture, and geographic location. While budget considerations are always in focus, deciding what method to use and how much to reward employees is an ongoing process. It takes careful planning, discussions, and reviews of legacy years to evaluate the best practices going forward, allowing the company to remain competitive. Each company has a different balance sheet each year, so the total rewards offered may be more or less generous than those of other companies, but it is important to be aware of the trends among competitors and the full package that employees are evaluating when making decisions for their futures.


About the Author

Brian Forman is a Human Resources Generalist with Atelier 4 in Long Island City, New York.

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