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Discussing a raise with your dentist

Date: May 2021

Author: Susanna E. Scherer RDH, BSDH

Negotiating a pay raise is often a difficult task. This past year has presented many financial challenges for dental offices. With increased pricing of dental supplies, and lost production due to COVID-19 shutdowns and limited treatment, it may seem especially daunting to ask for the pay raise you were already contemplating asking for.

pay raise by definition means an increase in the amount of money you earn for doing your job. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, merit pay is defined as a raise in pay based on a set of criteria determined by the employer. This usually involves the employer conducting a review meeting with the employee to discuss the employee's work performance during a certain time period.

If your office does not have a policy for pay raises you may consider presenting the idea of merit pay to your employer. A merit-based pay increase would require your employer to set in place criteria that employees would need to meet in order to earn a pay raise.

When requesting a pay raise, first find an appropriate time for both you and your employer. If your dentist is usually in a hurry to leave at the end of the day, then that would not be an ideal time to request a meeting. You know your employer best, take into consideration their best time of day and ask to schedule a meeting then.

Show up to your meeting prepared. Write down all of your accomplishments at work and highlight where you've met or exceeded expectations. Consider whether you have taken on additional responsibilities and whether it has added value to the office. Be prepared to give examples to support your accomplishments and/or the additional responsibilities you have taken on.

Know your value. Prior to your meeting, research the average salary of dental hygienists in your area. Salaries will vary based on experience, level of education and performance. According to RDH magazine you should also know your basic production numbers. Your gross salary should be approximately one third of your production numbers. Keep in mind that this percentage is based on the number that is actually collected.

It is important to remain professional while discussing a raise. Never discuss another employee's salary. Do not confront your employer when you are upset. Do not demand a raise or threaten to quit if your demand is not met. Do not make your request over email.

One reason many employees hesitate to ask for a raise is the fear of rejection. The worst thing that can happen is your employer will say "no" to your request for a pay raise. In the event that your employer says no, ask what further steps you can take to receive a merit-based increase. This shows you value your position in the office, and also that you are serious about your request for a pay raise.

Dental hygienists are invaluable members of the dental team. You deserve to be compensated fairly for your contributions to the office! When talking to your employer remember that this is a business conversation. Be cordial, but come prepared. Know your value and request the salary increase which you believe you have earned.