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Dental Employee Onboarding Reinvented: Thinking Beyond The Paperwork

Employee onboarding is an essential component of any healthcare practice. However, many practices consider onboarding a simple matter of employees filling out paperwork and attending a one-day orientation. 

As a dentist, it’s essential to consider new ways to make your employee onboarding process as comprehensive as possible. If the onboarding process is done well, your employees will thrive, your practice will benefit, and your patients will lead happier, healthier lives. Here is a look at key ways you can reinvent your onboarding process which will help you cultivate a more productive working establishment.

What Is Dental Employee Onboarding?

Dental employee onboarding involves the full integration of dental assistants, hygienists, dental technicians, and front office managers into your team, complete with training, skill-building, and acculturation. It is far more than a

Dental Employee Onboarding Reinvented: Thinking Beyond The Paperwork

basic orientation. For example, if you hire a surgical assistant, they’ll need to fill out paperwork, follow your practice’s specific training procedures, and understand how your dental practice operates. While the formal onboarding procedures may require no more than a week or so, it will take months of development before an employee fully integrates into your practice. This is why appropriate onboarding is so important. 


For more onboarding, here's a helpful guide.

What Makes Onboarding Different for Dental Practices?

Onboarding your dental team is more intensive and comprehensive than standard onboarding procedures in other organizations. Here are four such examples: 

1. From Candidate to Employee

When done right, onboarding will help an interviewee transition from a candidate to a dedicated employee in your dental practice. Taking specific steps can help smooth out this process and remove any ambiguity from the candidate’s mind. 

First, you should present candidates with an offer letter requiring their signature. This should include a start date, rate of pay, exemption status, job title, supervisor, practice address, an at-will statement, and instructions related to I-9 processing within the first 72 hours of work. For temporary employees, an end date must also be included. 

HR for Health provides software that automatically sends the offer letter to your new employee when they set up their account, and you can include contingencies for employment - such as a successful reference check or clean drug test.

Second, you'll want to maintain contact with the new employee between the time of offer and the start date. This will build rapport with your new hire, and it will provide a strong foundation for what should be a positive working relationship. It means you see the relationship as more than transactional, and that you care about them as a person.

Onboarding and management are easy in HR for Health's integrated software solution. With electronic time clocks, early and late clock-in alerts, and e-signature functionality, your office manager or HR team might be able to take a vacation!

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HR 101: Hiring Toolkit

2. Complete All Housekeeping Items

To integrate someone onto your dental practice’s team, there are many housekeeping items that need to be finished. 

First, set up their email and add the employee to any group lists (if applicable to your practice). Provide uniform, keys, necessary technology, and security access. If your new hire is a supervisor, HR for Health can customize their view and access in the HR for Health software by setting up a security profile for that supervisor.

Second, create a checklist with all the other onboarding to-dos, and have it handy. This includes about 12 to 18 new hire forms, depending on the state. You'll want to establish a clear process for how you collect and store this information. 

Fortunately, HR for Health's software allows you to maintain the collection and 

Dental Employee Onboarding Reinvented: Thinking Beyond The Paperworkstorage of documents, depending on your dental practice's state. This includes: 

  • Not just the I-9 and W-4. Other documents are required and help protect you if there is ever an audit of your documentation.
  • Electronically send the documents to your new hire when you add them to the HR for Health software. You don’t have to think twice about getting your employee set up with their documents. The software takes care of this for you, walking your new employees through their onboarding document as soon as they register.
  • Fields within your new hire documents auto-populate based on information the employee adds at registration and this helps to streamline things.
  • Signed documents contained in one spot that is easily accessible.

3. Bring Your New Hire Into Your Culture

Once your new hire checklist is complete, it's time to acculturate your new dental assistants, technicians, hygienists, and more. This will include a few things.

First, you'll need to model proper rules of “dentist etiquette” according to your practice. Your new assistants' first point of reference for how to behave in the practice is you. Do you take time with each patient? Does it seem like you're rushing the dental cleaning? Will you sit and listen to all the questions a patient may have before surgery? They will follow your actions more than your words, so pay attention to those. 

Of course, this also includes how you treat your new employees, not just your patients. Consider these culture-building activities: 

  • Regularly express appreciation for their work. 
  • Be both effective and nimble in scheduling. 
  • Have a one-on-one lunch with the new employee soon after their arrival.

HR for Health's handbook can be useful in showcasing the unique qualities of your practice, while protecting yourself from litigation.

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2022 Handbook Update Checklist

4. Continue To Train and Develop

Employee onboarding doesn't end after a few checklists are completed and culture is built. Training and development are essential for building a successful dental office. Your employees need it, and your practice deserves it. 

First, you'll want to ensure your training is role-specific. Think of all the different

Dental Employee Onboarding Reinvented: Thinking Beyond The Paperwork

types of positions within a dental office. Just to name a few: dental assistant, hygiene supervisor, receptionist, and front office man

ager. Each of these positions demands training that's suited for the role, so be sure to provide it. 

Fortunately, HR for Health provides performance reviews that can be used to set goals and track performance. 

Second, you'll need to continue checking in with your new hires. Too often dental assistants get hired, and their supervisor doesn't provide much feedback until the annual review. That's far too late. Consider providing at least monthly check-ins to see how your new hires are doing, and providing appropriate feedback. Again, HR for Health provides an Interim 

Performance Review template that can be used and customized to map out performance conversations, such as one-on-ones, making the process less intimidating.

Develop, Train, and Mentor As Keys to Long-Term Success

As you can tell, dental onboarding is far more than paperwork. It requires attention to detail at the beginning, but perhaps the most important part is giving attention to the development of your new hires over that first year. Eventually, you'll want to even consider providing mentorship opportunities for each of your new hires, pairing them with highly qualified employees on your team. 

HR for Health Wants To Help You Onboard Your Employees

If you have a dental practice and want to onboard your new hires more effectively, it's time to take action. HR for Health can help you with employee onboarding, timekeeping software, handbook development, and so much more. Set up a no-obligation, fifteen minute call with HR for Health, and learn more about how we can help your practice grow and thrive. 

Schedule an HR Consultation