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Onboarding in Healthcare: Creating Connections that Last

Proper Onboarding is Essential in Healthcare
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For all the resources institutions utilize to attract new employees, the effort can be for naught if employees don’t remain on the job. In today’s tight applicant market, every institution has an eye on retention, but unfortunately, the healthcare industry is second only to hospitality when it comes to turnover. In 2017 data compiled from over 10,000 health providers showed turnover at 20.6% up from 15.6% in 2010. For providers that lose one-fifth of their workforce per year, the costs can be astronomical.

While it’s critically important for new hires to learn policies and procedures, it can be just as important to develop connections. No one is comfortable being the ‘new kid.’ The first day on the job at a new institution can be a mix of excitement and trepidation. For employees who are not provided a thoughtful onboarding process, the first days and weeks can be “sink or swim.” They may navigate the workload, but those first shifts can disconnect them from the facility as easily as creating a bond.

How to Onboard Successfully

A good onboarding policy does more than show the new hires what they need to do. It helps them establish relationships, find their value to the organization, and provide resources for questions of today and in the future. A must for a good onboarding structure is routine and proactive follow-up. Check in with the employee to assure things are going as expected, or offer assistance if they are not.

Onboarding can help retain new hires and even help existing employees transition to new roles or departments. Some data puts employees who participated in a well-structured onboarding process 69% more likely to be at the company at the 3 year mark.

Onboarding or orienting?

Too many institutions confuse onboarding with new hire orientation, but they are distinct and different. Orientation involves necessary paperwork, training on compliance, protocols and procedures. Onboarding involves people: creating connections that can help the new hires during their first stages of employment and stay with them beyond.

What should your onboarding process include?

A structured onboarding process includes welcoming and assimilation tasks that begin before the first day and lasts through the first months.

Before Day 1

An email or message from a manager, welcoming the new hire aboard and asking her to meet as soon as she arrives on Day 1, gives the new hire a sense that she is valued, even before she hits the parking lot. Send any paperwork that can be completed pre-hire to the recruit: the less time he spends filling out forms and the more time he spends with people, the better.

Having the work station set up and ready to go is another important task. Asking new staffers to figure out where necessary supplies can be found is not only unproductive; it sends a message of unpreparedness and indifference to their presence. People want to feel welcomed and valued: a readied work area shows you’re excited to have them on board.

Day 1 and Beyond

Assigning a mentor or buddy to the new hire to help him navigate his new environs and role is critical: no one wants to be left on his own. A partner/mentor can ease the transition from Nick the New Kid to One of the Gang. They should help with training and be a resource for information and questions.

Set up walk-throughs and introductions. While most new hires will meet their team on Day 1, there are others in the organization that can impact their success. Who in IT should they contact with questions, where is HR if they need forms or information? Giving the new hire a larger sense of who is available in the organization to help her when needed shows you put value on her needs, as well as the work she performs.

Set up lunch and break buddies. For the first week at least, ask coworkers to include the new hires in lunch or break plans. This will help them find their place within the team.

Schedule follow-up meetings. Frequency will depend on the job, but on average, weekly for the first month, then monthly for several months thereafter. Time should be spent meeting with their manager or supervisor to discuss how things are going; what aspects of the job meet their expectations and which, if any, did not, along with solutions to any issues that have arisen.

If the staffer has access to an online calendar, have the follow-up meetings already populated. For remote workers, or those who don’t have consistent access to a workstation, set the schedule in person.

Finding the Time to Onboard

Time constraints and workload may make it challenging to incorporate working with new hires in their early stages, but the payoff is worthwhile: a peer that will lessen the load for everyone. Making the effort to onboard a new hire can mean gaining a long-term employee. This is well worth the time. Some institutions even offer those who volunteer to train or mentor extra benefits, like paid time off or additional pay in return for the excess workload.

Beyond Onboarding

Although an employee has assimilated, your work shouldn’t be done. In the months following, work with him or her to discuss the job, career paths, and growth. Onboarding should be a career process. As much as possible, focus on long-term development plans. If the employees see that you have plans for their future, they can see your organization in their own future plans.

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About Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years.
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