Features

Robert Eisen – Western Dental & Orthodontics

Helping employees sink their teeth into quality care

Imagine a chessboard, but instead of nights and pawns, it’s populated with medical professionals from dentists, doctors and nurses to receptionists, lab technicians and data analysts. Who moves those pieces around?

That would be someone like Robert Eisen. Working in the health care industry—from labs to hospitals—for two and a half decades, he’s helped human resources departments develop talent, enhance patient experience and provide affordable healthcare.

Robert Eisen | Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer | Western Dental & Orthodontics

Robert Eisen | Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer | Western Dental & Orthodontics

For 10 years, Eisen worked for hospitals but decided around 2016 to leave that fast-paced settings, taking a job with Western Dental & Orthodontics as its senior vice president and chief human resources officer. Established in 1903, the dental company has more than 300 offices in California, Texas, Arizona, Alabama and Nevada. Eisen adds that it has a proud history of delivering quality and affordable dental care.

“Patients generally visit the dentist because they must, not because it’s at the top of their list of things they want to do,” Eisen says. “However, by providing Western Dental employees the tools they need to offer the best patient care, we can retain patients for life.”

Talent and tools 

Western Dental still uses traditional recruiting methods, like posting jobs on its website and professional journals. It also uses more focused, proactive recruiting approaches, like searching for qualified, experienced candidates through social media and certain specialized recruiting programs.

According to Eisen, he and others present at military bases, where they showcase the opportunities available at Western Dental for exiting service members and their families.

Eisen adds that the work continues once someone comes onboard. Western Dental is currently in the process of implementing Glint, a LinkedIn company. Using what Eisen calls a robust survey and action planning platform, Western Dental can use Glint to create specific questions designed to gauge team member sentiment. According to Eisen, the feedback will help him develop and roll out better experiences.

“Shorter, targeted surveys given quarterly allow us to more quickly analyze data, especially across certain skill sets and geographic regions, then create appropriate action plans to provide the company and its patients the best team members,” Eisen explains.

Team member development

Western Dental and Eisen also provide employees with career growth opportunities through a career ladder structure.

Through the program, employees joining as dental receptionists can receive training to eventually become managers of all receptionists. Additionally, dentists can seek specialization within their field of practice or pursue clinical managerial roles. When someone becomes a manager, they can then partake in company trainings, too, which cover how to better communicate about work schedules and customer service, for instance.

Another rung of this career ladder is the Collaborative Leadership Program, which sets up a waterfall effect, Eisen explains. It provides those in leadership positions the best tools and knowledge to support their teams who, in turn, can then provide better care to patients. This program, which Eisen helped create, covers nine different competencies: Self-Awareness, Foresight, Stewardship, Empathy, Vision, Influence, Being Supportive, Commitment to Growth and Building Community.

Because of the havoc COVID-19 created, the program is currently still in its pre-launch phase. Eisen is hopeful that, by 2022, he and his team will have integrated business manager and other leader training.

“Our focus is on human capital, and we’re searching for people who aren’t just skilled but looking to develop their careers and expand their skill sets,” Eisen says. “We want patients—and employees—for life.”

Gambling for a brighter future

Eisen started his career as an intern at an employment law firm. While he didn’t care much about the law, he thoroughly enjoyed supporting human resources operations. One of the firm’s clients was Caesar’s Palace, which needed help sorting through applications.

“These were the days of paper applications, and they had stacks of them,” recalls Eisen, who helped them during his last school break before graduating with his bachelor’s from Arizona State University. “Maybe to someone else, the work would seem tedious, but that’s the moment I realized I like supporting an organization find the best people to reach its customer service and business goals.”

Eisen spent his summer reviewing applications, making recommendations then coordinating interviews. Seeing his passion for the work, Caesar’s invited him back after graduation as a human resources representative, who—within six months—was promoted to handling specialist work in compensation and, within two years, was tackling manager-level work.

Wanting a more impactful role, Eisen moved to Quest Diagnostics—a clinical lab—as a human resources director. Since then, he’s been leading human resources teams in health care settings.

When Eisen isn’t fishing for the best talent for a company, he likes to drop lines in the ocean with his son. Sometimes they’ll be out on the water for 10 hours. Eisen also enjoys swimming with the fish. In fact, he and his wife have traveled to wonderful spots across the world to scuba dive.

“It’s all about experiences, whether that’s an employee moving up the ranks, a patient receiving an affordable, quality dental car or my family and I enjoying the many opportunities life presents to us,” Eisen says.

View this feature in the Vision Vol. 1 2022 Edition here.

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