As sticky human resource issues go, this one ranked right up there, according to Dee Brown. The dentist on the other end of the line was worried, Brown recalls, anxious to resolve a long-simmering employee relations dispute that threatened the practice’s long-term viability. Many of the calls that come in to Brown’s human resource hotline are fairly simple and straightforward, but not this one.
“This was a complex situation that involved workers’ compensation and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” explained Brown, Sentinel’s representative at HR|Experts, where the firm’s dental practice clients now call in for free help with employee matters. “Any time you have legal and compliance intersecting like that, you need to be very careful in how that issue is handled. One wrong move and you could be looking at a very costly lawsuit.”
Fortunately, Brown was able to work with the dentist and practice manager to resolve the situation over a period of a few days. While some calls to the hotline are answered in a few minutes, others require two-to-three conversations. Brown returns every call within 24 hours, and often provides much more than human resource expertise. Her calm guidance and patient, plain-spoken counsel are every bit as much in demand with callers who are often frustrated and weary by the time they pick up the phone.
Sentinel launched the HR|Experts service about a month ago, in large part to address the risk that most dentists and dental practice administrators say is the biggest thorn in their side–human resources. After all, dentists go into practice to serve patients, not to manage people. Most are well equipped from day one to manage their professional liability, yet know little to nothing about other risks related to employment practices, wage and hour laws, family and medical leave, workers’ compensation, equal opportunity and discrimination, among others.
This, too, is where Dee Brown’s star shines bright.
“I am not here just to answer today’s problem, I am here to educate them, to develop their knowledge for the future,” she said. “I help them think about the workplace culture that they want to have, and need to have to develop their business. It comes down to leadership.”
Dee Brown can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Phone: 1-888-HRXPRT (1-888-473-9778)