Turnover in long-term care can have a negative impact on customer care and the bottom line. In Part One on recruiting and retention, I discussed strategies, such as behavioral assessments and the right kind of questions to ask during interviews. Now it’s time to make sure the chosen employee stays.
Once a candidate accepts a job offer, the recruiter and hiring manager’s job isn’t finished. For many new hires, the strongest relationship they have at a new employer is with the recruiter and their new boss. Since individuals who have a strong relationship with their employer tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction, it is often helpful for recruiters and managers to act as the point person for new hires during the first 30 days on the job.
Onboarding is a great way to strengthen the relationship between new employees and employers. Onboarding can inoculate against turnover in several ways. When employees have clear expectations and objectives at work, they perform better. Onboarding provides an opportunity to set those expectations. It also helps new hires adjust more rapidly to the social and performance aspects of their jobs. This is important because in many organizations, employees have a limited amount of time (typically 90 days) to prove themselves in a new job. The faster new hires feel comfortable with their work, the faster they can contribute to the organization.
The most effective approach to onboarding is a structured and systematic one. This is preferable to taking an informal “sink or swim” approach to onboarding which creates unnecessary ambiguity and stress for new hires. When organizations don’t manage or monitor onboarding activities proactively, new employee learning and adjustment is haphazard at best. A set of standard processes helps employees make the transition into a new position. Here are eight tips for creating a structured onboarding program that will contribute to employee retention:
- 1. Develop a written onboarding plan.
- 2. Have clear goals for the onboarding process, specifying what the process will achieve.
- 3. Consistently implement the program so that all new hires go through the same process.
- 4. Engage stakeholders, including recruiting, in the planning and keep them in the loop.
- 5. Make the onboarding process participatory for new hires and others.
- 6. Clarify employees’ objectives, roles, and responsibilities.
- 7. Periodically check on employee progress to see if any issues have arisen.
- 8. Monitor the program over time and make adjustments as needed.
Using technology, such as an applicant tracking system, to support the onboarding process can be a win for both employers and employees. Some applicant tracking systems handle the administrative aspects of onboarding, such as sending new hires all the forms they need electronically. Remember, onboarding should not be a paperwork marathon. Automating the administrative components of the hiring process leaves more time for face-to-face meetings to focus on important topics like job expectations and organizational values.
In healthcare, especially long-term and elder care, finding and keeping good employees is essential for delivering quality resident and patient care. Given the cost of replacing staff, it’s never too early in the employee lifecycle to think about reducing dysfunctional turnover. HR teams and hiring managers can play a central role in designing recruiting, selection, and onboarding processes in ways that maximize the likelihood of hiring talented professionals who will stay with the organization for years to come.
Frederick Morgeson, Ph.D., is a professor at Michigan State University and scientific advisor forHealthcareSource. He is the author of Job and Work Analysis: Methods, Research, and Applications for Human Resource Management.