An Open Letter to Employers

My Secret for Attracting and Retaining the Best Staff

As a dentist I don’t profess to know how to recruit talent for big companies, but I have been reading a few articles about studies lately that have been sending a strong message and I want to send it to as many employers out there as possible. 

It’s simple a message — employees care about dental benefits, and it’s a key decision-making criteria for accepting job offers. Granted, the economy is still recovering, and it’s not exactly a wide open job market out there. But I do know that human resources professionals are reviewed on their ability to bring the best staff to their companies. My point is that all the research indicates that good dental benefits matter a lot more than they may think.

For instance, The Long Group Healthcare Reform Study from 2008 discovered that the majority of workers out there rate dental benefit highly. Their survey of employee attitudes toward dental benefits revealed that 70 percent of them said that dental benefits coverage is somewhat or very important. What’s more, if a company drops dental benefits, it compares unfavorably to competitors who do offer them.

Large companies seem to get that point. The Journal of the American Dental Association reported in 2010 that among large companies in the U.S. with more than 1,000 employees, about 86 percent offer some type of dental benefit to their employees. However, among all companies of all sizes, only about 35 percent offer dental benefits at all. That means small businesses, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of all American business and employees, aren’t giving dental benefits the respect they deserve.

Now, in my opinion, the strongest plan that employees can offer covers 100 percent of preventive care with no deductible. This encourages employees to get regular dental check-ups to treat minor problems before they become major problems. This is smart, because it means that employees will be less at risk for lengthy absences that can sometimes be caused by dental emergencies that could have been avoided with proper preventative care.

If companies have to keep costs down, they should at least offer a plan with a large dental network. According to the Ruark Consulting Dental PPO Network Study from 2010, when employees choose a network dentist, claims expenses are reduced, which immediately benefits a self-insured group and can lead to more stable overall costs in the long run for fully insured groups. In addition, visiting a PPO network dentist can save an enrollee around 30 percent on average as compared to standard industry charges.

My final argument to employers for good dental benefits is that preventative dentistry is a valuable healthcare diagnostic tool. By helping to diagnose other potential health threats, a good dental plan can help keep overall healthcare costs for the company down. Regular preventive checkups give dentists the opportunity to screen for oral cancers and other health issues that can be difficult for individuals to spot on their own. For example, more than 75 percent of oral cancers can be identified either visually or through palpation in a comprehensive oral exam.

So, that’s my case. Take it with a grain of salt, if you must. A good dental plan is simply a good idea for companies who want to attract the best employees, and it’s an even better tool for keeping them.

Yours in good health,

Dr. Joseph Trovato

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