Take the Fear Out of Dental HR

Dental HR (human resources) can be overwhelming. There are federal and state laws that are changing all the time. Great employees are harder and harder to find and keeping awesome team members can be a challenge. Alan Twigg at Bent Ericksen & Associates joins Dental All-Star’s host, Alex Nottingham to clear the confusion. In this podcast, you will learn what you “have to do” and what “you should do” to gain more confidence with your dental team.

HIGHLIGHTS – Dental HR

  • [01:48] HR is such a huge topic; can you give me a bird’s eye view?
  • [03:24] What is your definition of a practice culture?
  • [05:43] What’s one thing I can do to improve my job postings and attract better candidates?
  • [9:00] As a practice owner, what are some of the dental HR compliance challenges I face?
  • [14:23] I want to make sure I keep my awesome employees, what is the biggest area I can focus on?
  • [18:48] What is the ONE thing you can do tomorrow to improve HR and culture?

RESOURCES – Dental HR

QUOTES – Dental HR

  • I break out HR. and give kind of a high-level view of it is there are things that you have to do and there are things that you should do.
  • And I think the biggest thing to start with or the most important area to focus on is being able to demonstrate and show your appreciation for the meaningful contribution that your team is making to the practice.
  • We sometimes say that HR has kind of a fun side and a not fun side. And the fun side is all the team building stuff and the CE and employee engagement. And then the not fun side is researching laws and writing policies and keeping things up to date over time.
  • Another big trend in HR compliance is just leave of absence protections. There are a lot of protections for medical leave, pregnancy leave, domestic violence leave, and again, these vary widely from state to state, and they also typically will kick in once you have a certain number of employees.
  • So the way that I like to think of culture is that culture is, in a sense, an average of the thousands of tiny interactions that you have with your team. It’s similar to kind of your practice or your brand as it relates to your interactions with patients. If we were to sort of average every single patient interaction you have, that sort of encompasses your real world brand in the eyes of your patients, and it’s the same with your employees.

About Alan Twigg

Alan Twigg is a Co-Owner at Bent Ericksen & Associates. For 10 years, Alan has guided hundreds of clients and consultants through the challenging world of Dental HR and Employment Compliance. He thrives when creating peaceful calm on an emotional topic (HR), through education, compassion, and acceptance.

About Alex Nottingham JD MBA

Alex is the CEO and Founder of All-Star Dental Academy®. He is a former Tony Robbins top coach and consultant, having worked with companies upwards of $100 million. His passion is to help others create personal wealth and make a positive impact on the people around them. Alex received his Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Florida International University.

TRANSCRIPT – Dental HR

Please note, this transcript was generated automatically. Please excuse errors.

Alex Nottingham JD MBA Alan will be joining us at the All-Star Practice Growth Summit on May 19th and 20th in South Florida to discuss this topic. To learn more about the live event, please go to All-Star Dental Academy dot COM. Please welcome Alan.

Alan Twigg Thanks for having me. Alex. It’s wonderful to be here.

Alan  Yeah, it’s everyone’s favorite topic, right?

Alex  Yeah. That’s, it’s always there’s a lot of issues around this area with which HR., which is human resources. What’s under the realm of human resources is to give us an education of of the topic area.

Alan  Sure. You know, one of the ways I break out sort of HR. and give kind of a high-level view of it is there are things that you have to do and there are things that you should do. So things that you have to do would be the compliance pieces, things like following all the wage and hour laws, you know, leave of absence requirements, harassment, discrimination, termination laws.

Those are the things in HR. that you just have to do. You have to follow your federal and state laws. You don’t have a choice in that. But in HR., there’s also a whole bunch of stuff that falls in the category of things that you should do. You’re not legally required to do them, but there are good things that make your practice a better place to work and has you enjoy coming to work more.

And that’s things like doing c e for your team, doing team building, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, doing employee engagement. All of those kind of things are in the realm of HR.. And again, those things kind of in some ways encompass your culture. And I think it’s equally important for folks to spend time on that, as well as all the compliance pieces as well.

Alex  And would you say that that’s like because one of the questions I have for you is giving like a bird’s eye view of HR. would that be it or would you like to add to that?

Alan  No, I think that’s a good summary of it. It’s it’s just keeping in mind the things that you have to do and the things that you should do and making sure that you’re spending a certain amount of your time on both of those and recognizing that in some areas of that, you can outsource some of those things in terms of software or some of the compliance pieces and not reinvent the wheel yourself.

And then there are other things like team building and birthdays and anniversaries that you would do yourself there in your practice and however that fits with you and your culture, then you would make that work in whatever way works for you.

Alex  Or you mentioned the work culture and how would you define culture? We defined HR. What about culture?

Alan  Yeah. So the way that I like to think of culture is that culture is, in a sense, an average of the thousands of tiny interactions that you have with your team. It’s similar to kind of your your practice or your or your brand as it relates to your interactions with patients. If we were to sort of average every single patient interaction you have that sort of encompasses your real world brand in the eyes of your patients and it’s the same with your employee is so all of those little interactions that you have with your team throughout the day, throughout the week, team meetings, holidays, birthdays, all of those if you average those out, that is

in a sense your culture with your team. And one of the things that I think is an important takeaway with that definition is that you don’t have to hit it out of the park every single minute of every single day. It’s it’s really an average and it’s about recognizing that we’re all going to have bad days. We’re all going to have days when we just want to get through the day and we don’t want to make it a special day and all of that.

And that’s fine. But we also want to make sure that on average over the whole that our culture and the employee experience overall is one that is positive and people enjoy their time and it’s real and genuine and, and, and it just works. So that’s that’s kind of one way of defining a practice culture.

Alex  I really like how you said it’s an average it’s a new way of hearing about it because some days are good, some days not so much, but overall it’s a positive experience and definitely want to have days that you wow and delight your not just your patients but also your team, which is really important. Yep. Now a good culture helps you retain your employees and possibly attract better employees.

In speaking of attracting talent, how can I improve that process, whether it be job postings or other aspects? What are some tips to attract better talent?

Alan  Sure. So I think that especially with things like a job posting, which will be the very first impression that someone will have, I think it’s critical to talk about your office culture. You know, most ads will just list the position, maybe they’ll list a wage or some benefits, and that’s really it. And so to stand out from the crowd, because, of course, you know, hiring right now in dentistry is incredibly tight, the labor market is still very tight.

And so to stand out from the crowd, I think it’s really important in the job posting to talk about the employee experience. What is it like to actually work in your office and especially know or think about what makes your practice unique from the practice down the street? You know, if someone is a really high quality candidate, they’ve got great experience, great attitude, and they’re looking to find a new home to work.

Alan  Why should they choose your office? And obviously wages and benefits and all of that, that’s important. But in reality, it’s all about their experience as an employee. And so that’s about your culture, the environment, what it’s like to be an employee and that there’s not a right or wrong to that. It’s it’s about, you know, are you a startup?

Alan  And therefore, it’s going to be a fun and exciting new, challenging environment. Are you an established, really professional practice that’s doing fee for service? And you know, you you are catering to a certain clientele for that. Obviously, if you’re pediatric, then you’re going to talk about working with kids and how fun and family friendly the office is. So it’s just about really emphasizing what your environment is like and making that really clear in the job posting.

Alan  And so in clients that we’ve worked with, when they have done that, it really has moved the needle and they’ve gotten candidates who then say, you know, after the fact that I was drawn to your ad because you talked about what it’s like to work there in the environment, how cool it is and how positive it is, and that kind of a thing.

Alan  And it really does stand out from the crowd.

Alex  And then I think about, well, if you’re having trouble hiring, reach out to All Star Dental Academy hiring services with Robin and Robin Reese, our director of hiring is one of your long time consultants and she’s wonderful.

Alan  So Robin is fantastic and I love what you guys are doing with your hiring service and the way that it’s structured and how flexible it is. And just taking that that legwork and that burden off of the practice, I think that’s fantastic.

Alex  I often quote your father where he says Tim Twig, he says, don’t step over dollars to get pennies. I love that expression and the really successful practices when it comes to HR. And hiring. They’re doing a combination. They’re using our service to help hire because it’s a better use of their time and they have been. ERICKSEN installed and we can talk more about that later to help with the compliance issues and in the long run, it saves a lot of money and heartache with respect to that.

Alan  Yep.

Alex  With as a practice owner, what are some of the dental human resource HR. Compliance issues or challenges that they may face?

Alan  Well, so first and foremost, it’s about recognizing that in the world of HR. We’re talking about federal and state. So unlike, say, some of the ocean HIPAA pieces where you might only have federal in HR. We’re dealing with federal and state and in some cases some city and county, though that’s not as common. So it’s important that everyone recognize that depending on the state that they’re in, they may have some specific dental HR.

Alan  Challenges for their state. So if you’re doing mentoring with someone who maybe lives in a different state, just know that the knowledge base may be different there. And it’s important to know what your state rules are and then similar with that, it varies based on the number of employees you have. So, you know, depending on whether you have five, 15, 20, 50 employees, that will also change the applicability of some of those state and federal laws that apply to you there.

Alan  There’s a common misconception out there that, you know, if you once you have 50 employees, that’s when all the dental HR. Laws apply to you. And that’s not the case. Once you have one or more employees, 95, 99% of all the laws apply to you once you have one or more employees. So it’s a misconception to think that all this HR.

Alan  Compliance stuff that’s only for like the big, huge corporations. And then of course, another big thing with dental HR. Is that the rules are always changing. dental HR. Laws are not static, so you can’t just write an employee handbook and then put it on the shelf and never look at it ever again. These things are constantly updating and some examples of that would be there’s been a trend for a number of years of mandatory sick leave laws.

Alan  A whole bunch of states now have mandatory sick leave and each state is a little bit different. So depending on the state you’re in, you need to have a policy written specifically for that state and for your number of employees, because some states the sick leave changes based on the number of employees you have. Another big trend in HR. compliance is just leave of absence protections.

Alan  There are a lot of protections for medical leave, pregnancy leave, domestic violence leave. And again, these vary widely from state to state. And they also typically will kick in once you have a certain number of employees. And then another thing that’s been really common certainly is changing marijuana laws and the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical. And that presents a little bit of a challenge because these are state rules and then marijuana remains illegal for the most part at the federal level.

Alan  And, you know, in general, that sets up a little bit of a conflict. And and in general, we recommend is to to simplify it and think of it as medical marijuana. Think of that like prescription medications that an employee might take. They are prescribed by a doctor. That doesn’t mean, though, that someone can just show up high to work whenever they want, just like regular medical medications.

Alan  They have to be something that does not impact the person’s job. So if somebody is taking medical marijuana, it’s impacting their job. That is something that can be addressed with the employee. And then recreational marijuana is basically like alcohol. You know, as long as you’re over the age and using it outside of work, then in a sense that is legal and okay.

Alan  And just like alcohol, they can’t show up to work under the influence and all of that. So that’s another big thing. I think we’re going to continue to see that in a number of states that haven’t legalized it or the states that are only doing medical will eventually do recreational. So again, it’s just this this idea of state and federal and that things are always changing.

Alan  And so I think it’s really important for folks to be aware of this and to have some sort of way that they are achieving compliance with this. And similar to kind of outsourcing your taxes or outsourcing the marketing and building a website, this is a great area. We’re partnering with somebody to do that. That legwork is really beneficial.

Alan  You know, we sometimes say that dental HR. has kind of a fun side and a not fun side and the fun side is all the team building stuff and the CEO and employee engagement. And then the not fun side is researching laws and writing policies and keeping things up to date over time. And that’s kind of an area that that we do that sort of helps save a lot of time and make sure that you’re in compliance.

Alan  So something to consider for sure.

Alex  What I like about Ben Erickson and correct me if I’m wrong, you have the laws and you consult on every state in the country, correct? Correct. So when I call, not only will I policy manuals that are customized per state, which is nice than just buying one on legal zoom or something online.

Alex  And you don’t know what you’re doing exactly. Now, the big thing or the same thing, but opportunity. The big opportunity is how do I keep awesome employees? So yes, I can attract them. That’s one we talked about job descriptions and hiring service, what have you. And once I get them, how do I keep them? What’s the biggest area I can focus on?

Alan  Well, sure. And there are, of course, a number of areas in this whole world of employee engagement and retention. And I think the biggest thing to start with or the most important area to focus on is being able to demonstrate and show your appreciation for the meaningful contribution that your team is making to the practice. So showing your appreciation and that is, you know, verbally, that’s with tangible gifts, that’s with acts of service, it’s spending quality time with your team.

Alan  All of this comes down to a book or a concept that’s called The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. It’s not a new concept, but it’s very simple, it’s very intuitive. It’s very easy for dental practices to adopt. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time or money, and it’s something that has been proven over and over and over again in Gallup polls and surveys over again.

Alan  This is what employees really want. I mean, yes, they need wages and benefits and all of that. And they really need to know that they are valued and appreciated. And again, this is not something that takes a huge amount of time or money with the five languages piece. It’s it’s things like doing sit downs with each team member.

Alan  One on one where you have that quality time where you’re not distracted or in a rush and you can just sit down face to face and say, How are you doing with your job? Do you have all the resources you need? That kind of thing. It might be tangible gifts. If there is an employee that you know is a big fan of a local basketball team, you could get them tickets to that basketball game.

Alan  That’s a very tangible gift for that specific person. But you can also do, of course, you know, practice wide gifts where you give everyone the same type of thing, the the words of affirmation and the verbal saying, again, that’s more than just saying, hey, good job today. That’s about saying, hey, I know the patient so-and-so was challenging today.

Alan  I know that was really stressful. I thought you handled it really well. Thank you so much for doing that. That’s a tangible word of affirmation for that specific employee and it’s more targeted and certainly acts of service, you know, days when it’s super busy or you’re short staffed because a front desk person called in sick, stepping in and helping out, even just something as simple as, you know, helping clean up or, you know, taking out the garbage, those little things.

Alan  While they may not sound like something big and over the top, those little things make a huge difference. And again, this is not something where you have to do all of this every single day. This is just a regular thing here and there again. So that’s kind of that practice average, that culture average ends up in the place where your team feels appreciated.

Alan  And so I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind, is that, you know, if I came to your office and I interviewed your team and I said, hey, you know, do you feel appreciated? Does Dr. So-and-so show his or her appreciation for you? I want that team to be able to say, oh, yeah, yeah, Dr. does this, this, this, this and this and yeah, all the time.

Alan  I feel like I’m appreciated. Absolutely. That’s what we want. And those teams will stick around, even if they can make, you know, a dollar an hour more at some other practice, they will stay because they feel valued and appreciated.

Alex  What I wonder is sometimes there’s a question is, is money important or the culture are important? I think it’s all of it. I think it’s a compound effect that employees have to be paid well enough. And there’s also have to be these compounding acts of service. You’re talking about recognition, appreciation. All of that relates to the culture of the office.

Alex  The if I were to because you covered a lot in a short period of time, if you could do one thing or advise one thing for the listeners that they can put in place tomorrow to improve their dental HR. or their culture, what would that be? Or maybe one thing you can distill from what we spoke about.

Alan  Well, so going back to the beginning and this idea of dental HR. having kind of the stuff that you have to do and the stuff that you should do, so on the stuff that you should do, I would say have that be the appreciation piece. If you’re not familiar with the book, get it on Amazon or wherever. The five languages of appreciation in the workplace, the very short, easy to read book.

Alan  And then on the compliance side, the stuff that you should do. I would say, you know, take a real hard look at your compliance you know can you confident say that you are in compliance with all of your state and federal rules? Do you have some sort of tools, resources out there, whether that be an up to date employee handbook, up to date job descriptions?

Alan  Do you have all the paperwork in place? And if you don’t, then I would say consider working with a company like ours or a company that, you know, can take that burden off of your plate so that you don’t have to burn all of your free time doing that yourself or have your office manager burn their time doing it, you know, and really do that so that you can say, okay, I’m in compliance, I can sleep better at night.

Alan  I know that I’m following all the rules and regulations for my state that are applicable for my number of employees. And having that confidence, I think is, is really what I would do for the kind of the the stuff that you should do. And that side of it are.

Alex  For those that like to learn more about that visit benterickson.com.

Alan  Yeah. That’s a great place to start. A lot of good info on there. We’ve got all of our services and offerings. We’ve got a bunch of resource guides in there. So yeah, definitely check out the website and folks can feel free to contact me directly as well.

Alex  Alan will be joining us at the All Star Practice Growth Summit on May 19th and 20th in South Florida. So you’ll be there as well and they can ask you questions and interact with you. Wonderful.

Alan  And any questions folks have, bring them to the conference. And yeah, I love to love to answer folks questions. It’s always fun.

Alex  Well, please remember to subscribe on YouTube and follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify and until next time, go out there and be an all-star!

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