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Employee Onboarding: Tips and Best Practices

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Employee Onboarding Tips & Best Practices

Unfortunately, most employers get low marks for their onboarding process. This is understandable in many cases. For instance, a busy dentist who suddenly loses their receptionist may hope they can bring in a new hire that just hits the ground running.

No matter how large or small a practice is, though, 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 be an amazing employee in a month could look like a deer in the headlights their first week. This is why you should take the following employee onboarding realities and tips seriously.

How Bad Is Current Employee Onboarding?

If your medical office has trouble with employee turnover, statistics prove that you’re not alone. Researchers have long sought the best practices in hiring, onboarding and other staff 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 a negative one.
  • 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 hire.

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

The good news is that creating an exceptional employee onboarding experience doesn’t take much. The following tips can quickly transform a dull and discouraging onboarding process into an enthusiastic introduction to your practice.


Reach Out Early and Often 

The first day 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.

Imagine if you could help new hires avoid this sense of angst altogether. Fortunately, you can by simply reaching out early and often. Make touching base with candidates a few days before the official start date—both 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 friendly letter that answers the basic logistical questions that everyone has but no one wants to ask.

Assign a Mentor 

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

You can avoid this issue altogether by assigning a mentor as part of the employee onboarding process. 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, and this removes an enormous amount of uncertainty.

Sort Out Technology in Advance 

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 difficult, and it prevents new team members from contributing. This ends up costing your practice too much.

Imagine a pharmacy dispatcher having to ask the administrative assistant to sign into the customer relationship management (CRM) system every time there’s a new prescription. Work with your technology expert 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 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 acknowledgements. Some policies and procedures need a personal touch during employee onboarding. For example, regardless of how much experience your new hire has, be sure to discuss privacy regulations such as HIPAA.

This is also a good 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. When possible, 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 first days are spent isolated in front of a computer. Your goal is to help novice employees feel like an important part of your practice as quickly as possible.

Suggested Reading: Quick Guide to HR Training


Make 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 or more. Include regular check-ins between new hires and mentors. Schedule periodic one-on-one meetings with leaders to discuss questions or concerns that have come up as well.

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 coming months.

Back to Basics 

Through the employee onboarding process and beyond, never forget basic management best practices. All employees want to feel appreciated and receive regular feedback on their progress. They want to know where they excel and learn any opportunities they have for improvement.

Role clarity creates a clear understanding of the expectations of every position. A medical transcriptionist knowing exactly what’s expected of their position 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.


The Right Employee Onboarding Makes Independent Employees

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

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. Schedule an HR consultation with our team at HR for Health today to learn how we can help you excel at this process.


Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services.