Onboarding is arguably the most important part of the employee journey in senior care. If you get it right, your new hire will hit the ground running, thrive in their new role and likely stick around long term. On the contrary, a negative onboarding experience has the opposite effect, making employees more likely to turn over in the first 90 days. That’s why it’s critical that organizations provide a thoughtful, structured and engaging onboarding process.
So, what does this process entail? Recent Gallup research offers the six actions of a successful onboarding program based on employee feedback.
Step 1: Conduct Onboarding Over The Course Of A Year
While onboarding is typically thought to span about three months, Gallup says that this process should continue throughout an employee’s first year on the job.
“Employee engagement may be high at first, but after a few months, the essential elements of a job -- the manager relationship, expectations, team dynamics -- come to the forefront,” the report reads. “This is when many employees decide to stay or leave.”
Extend the onboarding process by giving employees regular opportunities to get closer to their team members and build a stronger connection with their manager. This can be done through frequent feedback and regular one on ones. Gallup points out that the employee-manager role is an essential key to success in any role.
Step 2: Align Onboarding Experience With Employee Value Proposition
“Today's employees are consumers of the workplace,” Gallup says. And as all consumers do, they expect to get what they signed on for.
Make sure you’re clearly outlining job responsibilities and schedules during interviews. Don’t be shy to sell the incredible culture you’ve cultivated in your community and your many opportunities for career growth.
The key is, however, to make sure you deliver on these promises once an employee starts. Give your new hire plenty of opportunities to experience your culture and start defining career paths during the onboarding period. These conversations can occur during regular one-on-ones with managers, which are critical for new and tenured employees.
Step 3: Answer The Five Critical Questions Of Onboarding
Gallup lays out the five questions your employee onboarding process should answer. They are:
- What are my strengths?
- What do you believe in around here?
- What is my role?
- Who are my partners?
- What does my future look like here?
Managers can use these questions during performance reviews and to guide conversations around career goals. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to answer all of them right away and some will evolve over time.
One thing, however, that should remain consistent is the answer to the question “what do you believe in around here?” This question will help you work your organization’s mission into the onboarding experience. Remember to reiterate it frequently and tie it to any key accomplishments.
Step 4: Immerse New Hires Into Your Culture
Gallup explains, “To be successful, new employees need to understand your culture and believe that they fit into it.”
Starting a new job can be overwhelming. Managers should be going out of their way to no only invite their new hires to participate in social events at your community, but actively encourage them to attend. Assigning new hires an “onboarding buddy” helps them acclimate to your culture and ensures they have a friend at work on day one.
Step 5: Train Leaders, Managers & Teams To Take Responsibility For Onboarding
Employee onboarding should never fall on the shoulders of just one person – and individuals at all levels of an organization should be involved in some way. And since Gallup says that much of the information learned during formal orientation is forgotten, providers should focus their efforts on building connections.
“Feelings of belonging, trust and respect can't be created by an onboarding checklist. They require conversations and experiences with leaders, managers and team members,” the report reads.
Work not only with your managers but ensure your frontline staff are also making a concerted effort to make new hires feel welcomes and a vital part of the team.
The report also states, “A brief, genuine encounter with a leader can leave a deep impression on a new employee. A meaningful conversation with a manager about deep topics -- professional dreams, passions, talents -- can reassure someone that they are in the right place.”
Step 6: Use Onboarding Analytics & Performance Data To Gain Deeper Insights
“An effective onboarding program should have a proven positive effect on employee engagement, performance and retention,” Gallup says. That's why it’s critical that organizations understand the strengths and shortcomings of their programs and are evolving them over time.
New hire surveys, like those in OnShift Engage, measure an employee’s progress at critical stages of the onboarding process. Coupled with new hire dashboards, managers always have a clear picture of how their new employee is settling into their new role and can have any necessary conversations to ensure they stay on the path to success. Plus, these surveys help management collect invaluable insight into the effectiveness of their onboarding programs. Watch the video below to learn how Athena Health Care Systems uses surveys to ensure new hires are off to a great start.
“From a strategic perspective, leaders can combine onboarding data with data from other stages of the employee life cycle -- such as hiring, performance and exit program data -- to see which parts of the employee experience need improvement,” explains Gallup.
Kimberly Bonvissuto recently wrote an article for McKnight’s Senior Living that really hit the nail on the head when it comes to onboarding employees in senior care. She says to think of your new hires as internal customers.
“Just like you focus so much on the residents, and making the onboarding and move-in process smooth, we have to treat our candidates and new employees as internal customers and focus on making that a smooth transition for them, integrating them into the team, making them feel welcome, listening to them,” she said. “New hires are the greatest flight risk today.”