You’ve reviewed their application. They’ve completed your rigorous interview process. And they’ve accepted your offer. But now it’s their official first day on the job. They’re ready to meet their team members and their new manager. They might even be eager to jump into work. But instead, they spend the majority of the day stuck in an isolated room filling out paperwork and maybe meet their manager later in the day, if they happen to be available.
This type of experience can leave a lasting impression—but not likely the type of impression you want your organization to make.
With turnover rates among DSPs averaging 45%, and nearly 35% of that turnover occurring within the first six months of employment, providers need to start thinking about retention from day 1. And that means putting together a structured onboarding process that ensures new employees feel welcome and engaged.
Start Onboarding Before New Hires Walk In The Door
There’s no need to wait until a new hire walks in the door to welcome them to your organization. Send a small welcome kit, complete with a note from their manager and a small gift, such as a box of candies prior to their first day. A small gesture like this can really set the tone for a new employee and make them feel immediately connected to your organization.
Be sure to include some of the standard paperwork employees generally spend their first day filling out to complete beforehand, as well as a checklist of any items they need to bring with them (such as their license and social security card).
Additionally, provide an itinerary for how they’ll spend their first day. Something as simple as this can make new staff members feel more excited about getting started.
Give New Hires A Full (& Mostly Fun) First Day Itinerary
Again, to really make a positive, lasting impression, you don’t want any new hire to spend their entire first day filling out paperwork and reviewing the employee manual. While these are important tasks that need to be done, it should only fill a portion of their day.
Give new staff members a break from those standard orientation activities by scheduling time to introduce them to other team members and leadership from various departments. If appropriate, take them on a tour and introduce them to some of the clients they’ll be working with.
Spend some time going over their current work schedule to make sure the hours and the days are in line with what they were expecting to work. This can help avoid scheduling headaches for employers and managers later down the road. Additionally, make sure they know how they can access their schedule and request additional shifts.
Finally, be sure to give new hires plenty of time with their new supervisor or manager. Spending lunch together can be a good way for both managers and new staff members to learn more about each other. Establishing this type of bond from the start can go a long way in encouraging an open line of communication, and in turn, strengthening relationships and improving overall engagement and retention.
Establish Regular Check-In Points Throughout The First 90 Days
Effective onboarding programs are more than just a one-day event. In fact, they extend throughout the first 90 days when DSP turnover is at its highest.
Have directors or managers check in at key milestones such as 14 days, 30 days, 45 days and 90 days. Each check-in should have the same agenda and include questions such as: How are you liking your new job? How is it working with your team? What do you enjoy most? What do you enjoy the least? What can I help you with? These simple questions can have a big impact. And they can help mangers uncover small issues before they become big problems.
These check-ins are also a great opportunity for managers to review a new hire’s performance. Employee engagement software like OnShift Engage automatically tracks key employee behaviors such as clocking in and out on time and not calling off, flagging those who are still in their first 90 days. Having this information quickly available means managers won’t miss a chance to applaud good work or identify coaching/training opportunities.
Keep The Conversation Going
One great way to ensure manager-employee relationships thrive is for managers to hold weekly one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. However, particularly for IDD providers with residential services and staff, working across multiple locations, maintaining these meetings isn’t always so simple. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place that makes it easy for employees, both new and established, to provide feedback and voice concerns.
Automated weekly pulse surveys are a quick and easy way for managers to regularly measure staff satisfaction and collect actionable feedback. Consider tailoring these surveys based on certain tenure milestones such as the 30-, 45-, 60- and 90-day mark. Questions could include things like “I feel welcome at work,” “I enjoy working with my team,” etc.
Remember, collecting feedback is just the first step. It’s what you do with that information that really makes an impact. In fact, studies show that 48% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that acts upon their feedback. So be sure to implement changes where you can and address any changes that aren’t possible directly with your employees.