For our third and final post in our series showcasing leaders and organizations going above and beyond during this time, we’re highlighting Kevin Richeson at Espire Dental. Kevin is the company’s Chief People Officer and shares how his company led a thoughtful and supportive response to the pandemic.
exaqueo (EX): What is the current status of Espire Dental? How has your business been affected by COVID-19?
Kevin Richeson (KR): As of May 11th, we returned to normal business hours and have defined new procedural processes to ensure the safety of our team and patients. Back in March, our business was forced to suspend all services and appointments, other than those that were essential or emergency cases. This of course had a massive effect on our business and on our team members. This is how the events unfolded for us:
- On March 13, we sent a communication to our team members in response to the closing of all schools in the Denver metropolitan area outlining our efforts to support the team. Here is an excerpt from the employee communication:
To help each other overcome the challenges we may face, and to empower each of you, we are making available to our Espire family two pathways of support:
- PTO Advance. In the event an Espire team member needs to take time off for interruptions related to the COVID-19 situation, and if that team member does not have accrued PTO for such time off, the team member may borrow up to 80 hours of PTO. Speak with your World Leader and Clinical Director, in the event you need to take advantage of this benefit.
- Child Care Stipend. For the remainder of March, a $25 per day stipend will be provided to any team member to help offset the unplanned childcare costs due to the COVID-19 situation. Team members should document and report costs to their World Leader and to the Accounting Department, and the stipend will be added to the team members’ next regular payroll.
- On March 16, as we saw the number of cases escalating and other states suspending services, we chose to suspend all but essential/emergency procedures. The next day the governor issued an order closing all businesses except essential services state-wide.
EX: How is your team faring? Have you had to do any layoffs?
KR: Our team responded very well to this challenging time. We are proud to say that our team was kept whole. On March 16, we announced the suspension of all but essential/emergency services but also informed the team that we would be providing them with 30 hours of paid, online training during the closure period. We also informed them that we would advance up to 80 hours of Paid Time Off (PTO) to each team member, to supplement their hours worked and the training hours. Then, on April 3, in an all company video meeting, we announced that we would pay the team their normal wages through the month of April. No layoffs!
EX: What are you doing to support your staff and team members at this time?
KR: The board members and owners of Espire committed $150,000 of their family’s resources to a fund to be utilized to support those team members most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The week of March 23rd, we announced a video contest where each team member could receive $250 for submitting a video of less than one minute that demonstrates our company culture. Three videos that were most representative of the “Espire Essentials” (our culture) would be selected as Grand Prize winners and those team members would receive an additional $1,000.
We ended up with four (4) winners - they were really good! Here they are:
Further, we provided regular pay for team members through May 22. We held daily morning virtual team meetings to allow the team to continue to come together, support each other, and align in our company culture. We provided approximately 90 hours of training on average during the suspension of operations utilizing webinars, videos and online training sessions, focused on the delivery of Espire Care for patients and the work environment.
We wanted to provide our team members with the opportunity to grow professionally until they returned to work. These were a mixture of interactive video calls where we got everyone’s input and provide online content to reinforce the learning.
EX: How is your CEO and leadership team leading during this time?
KR: Leading With Purpose! The health, safety, and wellbeing of our team members and patients are the highest priorities of our leadership team, and have been the driving force behind the discussions and important decisions being made throughout this time. At Espire, we understand that our team members are the most important resource in delivering high quality, innovative care in a warm, personalized environment to our patients and each other. The leadership team stayed connected to our people through the daily video huddle calls and training sessions.
EX: What advice would you give to other HR leaders during this time?
KR: Press pause, be thoughtful and strategic, do not react from emotion but dig deep to ensure that the decisions are aligned with your company’s values and culture. Focus on what you can do to enhance the culture and morale of your team members and sustain your business for the future. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
EX: What is the company’s outlook?
KR: Very positive. Our team members are engaged, our patients are engaged, and we have the support of the chairman and board of directors to do the right things. We are excited to be back to work because we know we are stronger than we were before. We are taking every opportunity to improve as individuals and teammates now, which gives us high hopes for our results when things return to normal.
This feature on Espire demonstrates that during these uncertain times, our connections have become our most important asset. Staying connected with our families, our colleagues, and our customers will be what stands out the most when we look back.