Terri, our founder, worked in dental offices for more than 20 years before starting Teledent Dental Services in 2004. She started her career in the field as a dental assistant and left it as an office manager and consultant.
Over that time, she saw and learned a lot about the industry. She and her coworkers often found themselves in precarious situations: without a job, in between jobs, or let go from a job without notice or pay in lieu. They often didn’t know what to do, where to turn, or how to access their employment rights.
At the same time that she noticed these struggles for employees, she also noticed that employers were always talking about high turnover and employee retention. It seemed like a lose-lose situation until she asked herself: What would it take to level the playing field so that employees and employers could both get what they want?
This question was what eventually pushed her to start Teledent. The company started out with a focus on finding temporary help for dental offices looking for short-term employees but quickly became a source of trust for workers and a reliable place to find decent work.
I joined Terri, my mother, in our family business after 5 years with a large labour union. My focus was not only on expanding and diversifying our business but also on intensifying our role as an advocate for fair labour practices in the dental field. This meant focusing a little more on contract and permanent work but also on developing a process that balanced the very issues that drove her to start the business in the first place.
This was important to us because we noticed that work had become more precarious in the dental field over the past 15 years. There’s now much more part time work and many more contract and temporary positions than there used to be. For many dental hygienists, for instance, full time work is a thing of the past. Many cobble together shifts from a number of offices in an attempt to get enough work. This leaves many vulnerable to small fluctuations in individual offices with very little guarantee of continuing work. It’s meant a really noticeable increase in temporary work and a decrease in permanent work.
In response to this, we have developed an open approach to the hiring process that attempts to balance the needs of both employees and employers. Wages are negotiated up front and we communicate with both parties throughout the hiring process. This ensures that everyone is treated with respect and that no one is kept in the dark. Employees know the hours, wages, and location for a position before even agreeing to an initial phone interview. It empowers not only employees but also satisfies the desire employers have to hire someone who is genuinely interested.
While the hiring process is stressful for all involved, we think it can be an opportunity to start a good professional working relationship. The key is ensuring that everyone knows their role, understands their rights, and feels supported by experienced employment professionals.
Above all, Teledent is an advocate for decent work: something that every employee wants and every good employer strives to provide. For us that means balancing employment relationships, right from the start, so that everyone has a share in power and decision-making.
Cameron Kroetsch, Partner, Teledent Dental Services
The Better Way Alliance is a network of Ontario business owners who consider employee well-being a smart investment, for our long-term profitability and the health of Canada’s economy.