The Right Stuff

Using HR to invest in your dental practice

Knowing when to implement a Human Resources department for your growing dental practice can be challenging, but it is a crucial part of your growth and culture. An HR professional can secure top talent, improve employee retention, and bring balance to a tumultuous work environment. Recently, The DEO discussed the importance of HR and how to hire efficiently with two professionals within the dental industry:

> Michael Gregory is the Regional Manager at The Winning Smile Dental Group based in Brandon, Mississippi. The Winning Smile is a group of family-friendly dental practices that strives to provide a 5-star experience.

> Esida Destani is the Human Resource Director at Underbite Dental Management, based in New York, New York. Underbite is a management consulting organization that provides practices of all sizes with centralized tools and resources.

The DEO: What are your three primary responsibilities for your organization?

Michael Gregory: My three primary job functions are trying to locate and evaluate talent, improving employee retention, and developing our D players into C players. I also focus on day-to-day accountability and day-to-day operations. What processes are we failing at? What processes are we succeeding at? How can we maximize efficiency in these processes and how do we simplify things more than anything?

Esida Destani: My primary overall functions are:

  • Collaboration with the senior leadership to understand the organization’s goals and strategy related to staffing, recruiting, and retention. 
  • I also plan, lead, and develop policies, to support our company’s human resource compliance and strategy needs. 
  • Lastly, I also oversee and administer the compensation, benefits, and execute best practices for hiring and talent management.

The DEO: How do you go about finding good talent?

Gregory: I’ll be honest and say it’s not easy. The first avenue I am looking for is, is there someone I know I can trust that can refer someone to our location? That’s the first step for me. Do we know anyone that we can try to bring on board that is going to match our core values? If not, we will try to open it up a bit more.

We have found that trying to hire via Facebook or something like that, you get a ton of applicants, and maybe 2% of them have the qualifications you’re looking for. So you spend a lot of time just searching through the weeds to hopefully find that one person of the 125 that applied that has experience. That’s still even better than some of these paid searches like Indeed. You get an even larger pool at that point, so it’s an even longer process of finding someone that actually meets what you’re looking for.

Destani: Our primary source of finding talent is our employee referral program. I’m a big believer in in-house referrals. If you refer your friend or family member, that shows me that you love your job, love the company, and believe in our core values. On a different note, not all referrals are successful. The expectations are high, so sometimes the team expects you to hire them because it’s their friend, sister, and family. Therefore, we provide a fair interview process for referral applicants to avoid any biased decisions from the hiring managers.

We offer $1,000 per year, up to three years, to the employee who referred the candidate for the program. Both employees do have to be employed by us during that time.

The DEO: When is it time to hire an HR person?

Destani: I think when you realize that the people that work for you need to grow and develop their skills you realized you need an HR department. As an office manager for many years prior to becoming an HR Director I always felt the need to provide my team with more opportunities in their career, but I didn’t have the tools or resources to do that. Developing an HR department after 3-4 locations I believe is necessary. There is a tremendous need for training and developing the managers on how to retain employees and improve the culture in the workplace. We developed our HR department after we had 3 locations.

The DEO: Are there certain industries that stick out when looking at a candidate’s background?

Gregory: If you can look at a person’s resume and see that they are coming from a customer service background, then you feel more confident hiring that person. So if you know they worked at Chick-fil-A for two or three years, you know the level of customer service that’s been ingrained into them. But if you see they have worked at a place that’s notorious for having the worst customer service ever, then you know that’s probably not been ingrained with them. I don’t have a specific industry as much as it’s kind of specific thing I’m looking for.

Destani: I would add that retail & service industry are significant. If they’ve been a sales manager they might be ideal for a treatment coordinator position. We provide dental training and the rest is mostly sales experience. Furthermore, we have had success finding talent from the service industry such as Starbucks and fast food chains. My first job was at Burger King. I was promoted to manager there and took a few courses. So definitely in fast food, the customer service needs to be top-notch, and you have to work in a fast-paced environment and provide great service. I heard someone say once, “It’s not customer service. It’s the customer experience and excellence.” That’s what we’re looking for.