Dental Practices See Little Profit in Workplace Hanky-Panky

How Office Romance Can Lead to Divorce, Embezzlement, and Even Assault Charges

Yes folks, it’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air. But who are we kidding? Isn’t love always in the air?Romance among Dental Coworkers

At least, that’s what it seems like when I review the results of my recent survey about finding romance in the dental office. One in five dentists admitted to becoming involved with a coworker or employee other than their spouse. And though the other 80% of dentists may not have indulged in an office affair themselves, they’re certainly well aware of the possibilities for disaster. (Read the Dental Practice Romance press release.)

Let me briefly acknowledge that sometimes office romances can work out well, ending with marriage and kids and “happily ever after.”

But let’s be realistic: we all know that’s the exception, not the rule. Office affairs can also lead to heartbreak, lawsuits, divorces, and disgruntled employees. I’ve heard my share of horror stories over the years… and now it’s my turn to share a few with you!

Please Don’t File Assault Charges

I got a call recently from a dentist with major drama at his practice. Dr. Sly was having an affair with his front desk manager. This was no problem – until Dr Sly’s wife found out!

Dr. Sly’s wife was understandably furious. She fired the front desk manager on the spot. And then she slugged her.

The front desk manager didn’t just have grounds for unlawful termination – now she had grounds for an assault charge against Dr. Sly’s wife. An assault charge is not good for business!

So I spent a hectic weekend on the phone trying to smooth the whole situation out. I engineered a solution that satisfied the front desk manager, and she promised she wouldn’t press charges. I’d like to say the whole thing worked out well – but I suspect Dr. Sly’s wife wouldn’t agree.

In Flagrante Delicto

Then there was the time I got a call from a dentist who’d discovered his assistant and his front desk manager were having an affair. To make it worse, the front desk manager was married and had several children.

They’d done a good job of keeping their affair secret – until the day the dentist walked into the X-ray room and discovered the two in a very intimate embrace!

An Elegant Couple Faces a Messy Situation

At a dental conference some years ago, a dentist stopped to ask me about my dental consulting services. Having consulted with countless dentists, I figured there was nothing I couldn’t handle. But his story stopped me cold.

The dentist was an elegant Southern gentleman getting on in years. His wife was as polite and impeccably groomed as he was. I was secretly delighted; they looked like they would be fantastic clients.

But Dr. Elegant had a teensy little problem with his dental practice that he wanted to discuss with me. His daughter, a stay-at-home mom, was married to his dental associate. The plan had been that the associate would eventually buy out the practice. Unfortunately, it seemed like the associate’s marriage to Dr. Elegant’s daughter was on the rocks.

“You have to separate your personal issues from your long-term financial goals,” I told him squarely.

He and his wife glanced at each other awkwardly. They confessed that they suspected their son-in-law the dental associate was having an affair with their office manager.

“Well, that’s an easy one to solve – time for her performance review!” I said. (Please folks, don’t beat me up about this! There’s a time and a place for constructive discharge, and this was it. Why not solve two problems at once by removing the source of temptation?)

Dr. Elegant and his wife were still uneasy. My advice may have been spot-on, but it didn’t address their real problem.

Just that weekend, Dr. Elegant’s wife had been reviewing the books when she made a disturbing discovery: embezzlement. The doctor and his wife were 80% sure that the office manager and the associate were embezzling money from the practice. The cheating couple’s plan was to embezzle enough money to allow the associate to buy the practice, divorce his wife, and marry the office manager.

I was stunned. This went far beyond my dental practice management skills. “Good luck,” I told Dr. Elegant. “Once you have that issue resolved, I’d love to have you as clients.”

Share Your Own Stories of Office Romance

You can read more stories of dental practice affairs by reading our complete dental practice romance survey results or reading the Dentists Dating Coworkers press release. Plus, don’t hesitate to share your own tales below!

Dental Office Romance Blooms for One in Five Dentists

Dating Coworkers: One in 5 Dentists Has Done It
Wrongful Discharge: Dental Survey Results

In this survey, we asked dentists if they have ever become romantically involved with a coworker at their dental practice (other than their spouse). One in five dentists admits to dating a colleague or employee. Most caution against mixing business with pleasure, but a few happy marriages have been born in the dental office.

USA map of dental office romance

In this map, the redder states reported higher levels of office romance.

Gender played a distinct role in a dentist’s experience with office romance. One in four male dentists admits to becoming involved with a coworker, while only one in ten female dentists does.

Here are some comments from dentists:

  • “A very bad idea in the workplace.” (Endodontist)
  • “I won’t ever do it again. It cost me my marriage!” (Orthodontist)
  • “Sounds like fun, but in the long run a bad idea.” (General dentist)
  • “Bad for business… Can face sexual harassment charges.” (Prosthodontist)
  • “I think it can work!” (Pediatric dentist)
  • “While it was passionate and enjoyable, it clouded my judgment and almost cost me my office.” (General dentist)
  • “At one time in my life I developed a relationship with my dental assistant. My personal life, if kept private from the office, is my own business.” (General dentist)

Read the complete dental office romance survey results

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