Communicating Clearly, Consistently, and Accurately

We believe that effective communication is essential for our continued success as a great place to work and a stellar place to do business for all customers, service providers, and employees. Communication is one of Northeast Delta Dental’s four values. My colleagues and I believe in clear, consistent, and accurate communications. We like to be as transparent as possible in the way we do business, and everyone seems to appreciate that.

It’s been interesting to see how businesses communicate during this period of COVID-19 interruption and social distancing; some communicated messages broadly and immediately, and some rolled out their messages well into the business shutdown. One of the challenges that businesses and nonprofits currently wrestle with is the need to communicate messages that have to be updated often, knowing that the information we pass along today, will be outdated tomorrow.

In my role as President & CEO of Northeast Delta Dental and leadership roles on boards and advisory councils, I value face-to-face communication. But now I use phone calls, emails, and online conferencing to get things done. It’s not what I prefer, but these are the limitations we must work within. I continue to encourage my team to be resilient and resourceful, and at times like this, that really pays off.

We’ve shared several general messages about the fact that most of our employees are working remotely, people with essential positions are working at our headquarters at a distance from each other, while maintaining the mindset to do business as usual. We’ve shared messages with each of our stakeholders to reassure them, and when appropriate, describe the relief that we are providing to them, or are considering. On our website (nedelta.com), you will find my videos to stakeholders, which I created and posted early during this time of crisis, and new videos were posted today.

Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to provide information by using the most reliable sources available and communicate messages of hope and reassurance.

What are your communication challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how have you met them?

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A Fresh Perspective

We’re living through times of high stress and anxiety, and it’s natural to be worried about something you have no control over. We all process troubling information, and react to it differently.  It’s important that we guard our emotional health for our own wellbeing, and to help our friends and family members.

Here are some ways to deal with stress and anxiety during periods of uncertainly. I use these methods to make sure I am taking care of myself, my family, colleagues, and the business.

  • Take care of my body. I am a runner, and I find that exercising regularly helps to relieve stress. I also try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and get enough sleep. Oral health has many links to overall health and wellness, so I brush and floss my teeth every day.
  • Balance my news intake. As the CEO of a mid-size company, it’s vital that I stay informed. I watch, listen to, or read the news for updates. I get my news from reliable sources, because there is a lot of misinformation circulating, and I find it helpful to take a short break from the news.
  • Take a break from work. Many of us are working at home and homeschooling our children. Your added responsibilities may be different than mine, and it could be harder than ever to take a break. However, taking time to participate in enjoyable activities unrelated to work (like running, for me) helps me return to responsibilities with a fresh perspective.
  • Connect with others. It is business as usual at Northeast Delta Dental, with more than 90% of our employees working from home, and those working in the office distancing themselves from each other to stay safe and healthy. I miss the on-campus interactions with many of my colleagues. Although it takes a little more effort for me to reach out with a phone call, email, or a face-to-face online conversation, it’s worth it. I am investing in keeping my support system strong, and I am reminding others that I am part of their support system.

If you have found other ways to preserve and protect your emotional health during these challenging days, please tell me what they are. We can learn from each other.

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A message from Tom regarding COVID-19

This is a time of uncertainty. Like all businesses in Northern New England, Northeast Delta Dental is closely monitoring developments around the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our priorities are the health, safety, and overall well-being of our employees, our stakeholders, and the people of our communities.

To protect the health of our employees, while still providing the high level of service that our customers and dentists expect, we reduced the risk of infection and transmission of the virus by enabling most of our employees to work from home, increasing the space between employees who must be at our offices, and reducing or cancelling in-person meetings.

Our disaster recovery plan included actions to take in the event of a pandemic, and our response team implemented measures to minimize service disruptions. It’s pretty much business as usual for us as we continue to process and pay claims, enroll subscribers, and provide the personal service our stakeholders deserve. But we certainly miss those social interactions we enjoyed each day at work!

With so many messages on this health crisis, some more reliable than others, we regularly monitor these trustworthy information sources:

Many businesses are adapting to new ways to deliver goods and services that protect their customers while continuing to serve them. Let’s support those efforts whenever possible to help and encourage each other, so that all of us are better able to recover when our present challenges are behind us.

And let’s resist those emotions that cause us to hoard vital antiseptic cleaning products to the point where first responders are having difficulty purchasing them and are asking for donations. This would be a good time to use some good old Yankee common sense.

When unexpected difficulties present themselves, it’s important to remember what we value most and continue to treat each other with respect, compassion, and generosity.  We’ll get through this together.

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Boards Consider the Complexities of Impact Investing

Senior managers and board members of businesses and nonprofits wrestle with the issues inherent in balancing profitability and social responsibility in their investments, so I read “The Power of Money With a Purpose” in  The November/December 2019 issue of NACD Directorship, a publication of the National Association of Corporate Directors. Authors Erin Essenmacher and Judy Warner say that impact investing is rooted in the desire for organizations and their stakeholders to live in a healthy environment that is sustainable, yet they also expect to receive a return on their investments.

In saying that it’s important to understand what investors want, they trace some of the origins of impact investing. While it once may have been rooted in faith-based practices, it is more often today associated with an understanding that businesses share a responsibility for the world’s condition. They give examples of how some businesses and nonprofits have influenced the rise of impact investing.

The NACD Public Company Governance Survey (2019-2020) revealed this about the attention that boards gave to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in the last year: “52% Improved understanding of the company’s current ESG-related performance, 50% Reviewed ESG-related risks and opportunities, 49% Discussed the link between ESG and the company’s strategy, 49% Worked to improve the company’s reporting about environmental and social efforts to investors or stakeholders, and 37% asked management to develop and report better performance metrics for ESG to the board.”

Board members of business and nonprofits must discuss impact investing and ESG practices regularly, and make decisions in light of these considerations, because stakeholders are concerned about the socially responsible practices of the organizations they do business with and how they invest their money. If you have some thoughts to share on this topic, please post them.

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National Children’s Dental Health Month

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and is brought to you by the American Dental Association (ADA). The ADA website explains that in 1941, this program began as a one day event, changing to a week-long event in 1955, and month-long national health observance in 1981.  Today this brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.

In past years, Northeast Delta Dental partnered with the Manchester Boys & Girls Club regarding a new program incorporating the expertise of Dr. Richard Bolduc, a well-known area dentist, to provide dental care on site. Northeast Delta Dental had the great honor of funding the first tele dentistry program in New Hampshire providing visits for youth to improve dental health, and it doesn’t stop there.

Through the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation’s support of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, we are excited to share that throughout February, the Children’s Museum will host a series of age-appropriate activities related to oral health, introduce expert speakers about dental hygiene and nutrition, and offer product giveaways and raffles. You can find more information about the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, here.

We also donate toothbrushes and Grin! for Kids! activity books to schools and dental centers who schedule oral health educational programs.

Download our Grin for Kids! activity book here, to help your child or family member learn more about good oral health.  The pages are filled with fun interactive activities and coloring pages.

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