Insights From Our Editors

Staff Management: An Employee Onboarding Program More than Pays for Itself

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

May 24, 2017

Seeing less-than-impressive performance from your new employees? The culprit may be your onboarding process, or the fact that you don’t have one at all.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, over a third of employers (36 percent) do not have a structured onboarding process, and a significant number are reporting costly consequences.

Forty-one percent of these employers believe the lack of a structured onboarding process has had one of the following negative impacts on their company, including lower productivity (16 percent), greater inefficiencies (14 percent), higher employee turnover (12 percent), lower employee morale (11 percent), lower level of employee engagement (10 percent), lower confidence among employees (10 percent), lack of trust within the organization (7 percent) and missed revenue targets (6 percent).

Throughout the first six months of employment, 90 percent of employees are still deciding whether they’ll stay. Here are five key strategies to better train your next new employee taken from the article “How To Make Your Employee On Boarding Program Strategic And Effective.”

Extend the Learning Window
Rather than thinking of training a new employee as a one-time event that you want to get through as quickly as possible, train your new employee in small bites over time. This is known as the “spacing effect.” This approach is best for understanding, retention and learning. When you take this approach, what you’re doing is transforming your practice into a continual learning environment. This is one way to keep your employees engaged and interested.

Incorporate Learning Through Others
There is more value in “show me” than there is in just “tell me.” People retain only 10 percent of what they read, 50 percent of what they hear, and 75 percent, or more, from on-the-job experiences. The lesson here is to incorporate learning by using your current staff to onboard the new employee. Rather than having the new employee just watching videos or reading text, face-to-face learning requires active listening and gives immediate feedback. Don’t forget that the best way to learn something is to teach someone. There is benefit for the mentor, as well, as the new employee being onboarded is utilizing this process. Maximize this process by utilizing multiple mentors for the new employee.

Guide the Learning
Structure is how you keep the training process focused. Create a guided plan for the entire process of onboarding the new employee. Map out the entire process. Gauge progress by building in checkpoints.

Measure the Impact
Proficiency test the new employee. In fact, you should also randomly proficiency test all of your employees. This is the best way to determine if learning has occurred.

You also want to know how effective your onboarding program is. Here are questions that you should want answers to:

•    How long does it take you to onboard a new employee?
•    Is your onboarding program effective?
•    Do employees who go through your onboarding program feel anything is missing?
•    Did they enjoy the process or did they feel that it was tedious?

Standardize Your Program for Success
We want everyone in the office saying the same things to patients and performing tests the same way. The last thing that we want is for patients to hear different answers from every staff member they ask, or to have a different experience with every staff member. Consistency is essential in a training program. Standardization is the path to consistency in training programs, so standardize your program for success.

There are other benefits to standardization, as well. The Aberdeen Group  found that when onboarding programs were standardized, the following results occurred:

•    13 percent higher rates of new hire performance goals met
•    19 percent higher new hire engagement
•    19 percent higher new hire retention

Use these ideas to help you, over time, to build a library of onboarding programs that can be easily deployed as needed.  Take this week to review your onboarding programs for new employees. Find ways to improve your onboarding programs, creating a better trained staff, resulting in better delivery of patient care.

References
i. Partnership for Public Service, Getting On Board: A Model for Integrating and Engaging New Employees,” 2008.
ii. http://chronus.com/employee-onboarding-program-guide
iii. Bersin, “High Impact Learning Practices,” 2009
iv. Aberdeen Group, “Onboarding 2011, the Path to Productivity,” March 2011

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