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5 Tips for a Smooth Onboarding in Your Dental Practice

Employee onboarding starts long before a new team member steps foot in your practice. A new hire's first day — then first week and first month — forms the foundation for the rest of their employment at your practice. The appropriate employee onboarding program can genuinely enhance your employee experience, which ultimately improves employee retention.

 Unfortunately, most employers get low marks for onboarding new employees, and this begs an important question: What are the current onboarding best practices?

Sticking to these best practices became significantly more challenging during the pandemic when many practices shifted to a remote-style working environment. For instance, a busy dentist who suddenly loses their receptionist may hope they can bring in a new hire that hits the ground running. No matter the size of a practice, whether it’s a dental, optometry, or other medical practice, this isn’t typically how it works. You need to do more than just hand over the revised employee handbook and tell someone to get started. A person who could eventually become your employee of the month might still look like a deer in headlights their first week. 

How Bad Is Current Employee Onboarding?

If your medical practice has trouble with employee turnover, statistics prove that you’re not alone. Researchers have long sought the best practices in hiring, onboarding, and other management processes. While doing so, they discovered the following eye-opening collection of data: 

  • An excellent onboarding experience can increase early productivity by 70 percent
  • Positive employee onboarding can also improve retention of new hires by 82 percent.
  • The most recent onboarding experience of 88 percent of employees was negative
  • Up to 20 percent of new employees leave within 45 days of hire. 
  • Up to 50 percent of new employees leave within 18 months of employment.

Creating a solid foundation with onboarding best practices means new healthcare employees are more productive sooner. More importantly, it prevents short-term turnover. Avoiding this expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive problem in your practice will benefit your team, patients, and office.

Fortunately, there are best practices in onboarding that you can use. By doing so, you can improve your employee's skills and employee retention rates. The following tips can quickly transform a dull and discouraging onboarding process into an enthusiastic introduction to your practice.

Reach Out Early, and Often 

Day one at a new job is full of anxiety. Whether it’s a maxillofacial surgeon with a decade of experience or a pharmacy driver who just landed their first job, there’s no avoiding the sense of nervousness. Anything from learning where to park to figuring out the snack options can create a palpable sense of fear — and those are the smaller issues. We've all been new employees, and learning company culture while making a good first impression can be extremely stressful!

Imagine if you could help new hires avoid this sense of angst altogether. Fortunately, you can reach out early and often, particularly during a new hire orientation. Touch base with candidates a few days before the official start date to welcome them and let them know what to expect — a key part of your employee onboarding.  As long as it is purely informational (e.g. dress code, lunch options, etc.), you won’t need to pay new employees for this friendly call. You can reinforce your message with a warm, supportive letter that answers the basic logistical questions that everyone has but no one wants to ask. 

Sticking to onboarding best practices also means standardization. Fortunately, at HR for Health, we can work with your practice to create an entire onboarding system that makes onboarding a breeze. This system can help encourage easy communication, allow you access to templates, standardize workflow, and ensure that everyone on your team knows what they are doing when onboarding an employee. All of this can help your employee feel right at home and make an employee's first day much more pleasant. 

Assign a Mentor 

Whether you have a thriving dental practice, growing optometry office, or a successful veterinary clinic, your team is busy. That can create an unsettled feeling for new hires since they hesitate to inundate co-workers with questions.

Onboarding best practices means that you give a new hire someone they can talk to. Assigning a mentor is critical. This is the person who will greet them upon arrival, show them where to put their things, provide office tours, and handle introductions. New hires will know they have a go-to person, which removes an enormous amount of uncertainty.

Sort Out Technology in Advance 

Sticking to onboarding best practices means that you handle any potential issues ahead of time. Indeed, the biggest frustration for many new hires during employee onboarding is not having the access and equipment they need right away. This often makes training sessions difficult, preventing new team members from contributing to their new work environment. This ends up costing your practice too much. Imagine a pharmacy dispatcher asking the administrative assistant to sign into the customer relationship management (CRM) system every time there’s a new prescription. Aim to get computer IDs and passwords squared away upfront so new hires can feel productive and accomplished from the start.

Keep the Momentum Going 

Though there is some anxiety associated with starting a job, most new hires are excited about their first day. Create your onboarding process in a way that builds on that momentum. Rather than sitting new team members down with stacks of new hire paperwork upon arrival, assign a simple project that someone could finish successfully in an hour or two.

This gives new employees an immediate sense of accomplishment, and instead of feeling like a burden, they feel good about contributing to the business. Of course, you probably will need some forms filled out, but these can wait until after lunch. If morning activity is constant, spending some quiet time on paperwork will be a welcome change in the early afternoon.

New Hire Training 

Training isn’t as simple as parking a new hire in front of the computer to read modules and check off acknowledgments. Some policies and procedures need a personal touch during employee onboarding. For example, regardless of how much experience your new hire has, discuss privacy regulations such as HIPAA. 

This is also an excellent time to review any special measures you take with your patients. For example, some practices have patients enter the building by one door and leave by another to keep their identities confidential. It also helps to divide computer training, in-person training, and paperwork into hour-long blocks over several days.

By doing this, your new hire will be better able to retain information. Second, new job excitement is quickly extinguished when the first days are spent isolated in front of a computer. Your goal is to help novice employees feel like an essential part of your practice as quickly as possible.

If you use HR for Health's system, you're in luck: You can store all signed paperwork in our cloud-based system. Work with our experts and ensure that all your records are retained and securely stored.

Recommended Reading

 Quick Guide to HR Training

Onboarding Best Practices in Healthcare Means Making a Long-Term Commitment 

Some employers take pride in the speed of their employee onboarding. They often insist new hires are ready for action after their first week. However, these same employers often see poor results from their onboarding program in the months that follow. Rushing this process will always lead to unfavorable outcomes — including poor engagement among new hires and short-term turnover. 

Create an onboarding plan that offers learning, development, and relationship-building opportunities for three to six months. Include regular check-ins between new hires and mentors. Schedule periodic one-on-one meetings with leaders to discuss questions or concerns that have also come up.

During this period, partner up with new hires to identify skills they would like to learn and anything you would like to see improved upon. Your employee onboarding plan can include customized training and development opportunities to address in the coming months. One essential onboarding healthcare practice is sticking to long-term onboarding, not being fast. 

Back to Basics 

Onboarding best practices in healthcare can ensure that you have an easy process for new employees. and general management principles. All employees want to feel appreciated and receive regular feedback on their progress. They want to know where they excel and learn any opportunities for improvement.

Role clarity creates a clear understanding of the expectations of every position. A medical transcriptionist knowing what’s expected of their work can make a big difference in job satisfaction. Offer continuous learning as a priority, and when you can increase a team member’s level of responsibility, they’ll often feel rewarded.

When it comes to onboarding best practices, you should also include tracking all communications, including any warnings about performance. If you use HR for Health's system, all of this information can be regularly monitored and recorded — the good and the bad. Our employee performance module lets you easily determine when your employees are doing great and when issues may arise that need to be addressed. This can also be an excellent way of creating a paper trail if you have an employee who isn't meeting expectations and needs to be let go.  

How HR for Health Can Help

Finally, keep in mind that employees are looking for a reasonable amount of independence. After completing employee onboarding, leaders who micromanage every detail of their work can derail growth. There is a delicate balance between ensuring accurate, efficient completion of tasks versus monitoring every detail.

Building your team culture around these critical points ensures strong engagement among new hires and tenured team members alike. Of course, employee onboarding as a human resources issue can still be quite complex. 

Looking for more help? HR for Health is here. Schedule a 15-minute HR consultation with our team at HR for Health today to learn how we can help you excel at this process.Schedule an HR Consultation