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Onboarding: Designing the optimal journey from orientation to productivity in healthcare

May 13, 2022
May 13, 2022

Orientation and onboarding are critical steps and are highly impactful for retention but getting it right can be challenging. While there are essential components for your orientation and onboarding programs, it is possible to cover them efficiently and in a way that will engage rather than alienate newly hired team members.   

The Essentials

When planning orientation for healthcare employees, there are some steps that simply cannot be missed.

  1. Compliance – this is foundational for healthcare organizations. Employees should not have to guess how to treat patient information, keep themselves or patients safe or how to comply with local, state and federal regulations.
  2. Clarity – while this should have happened during the hiring process, clarification about the employee’s role and responsibilities, how that role fits into the entirety of the organization and what the career path can be should also be a focus during onboarding.
  3. Culture – this is the time to help employees understand the organization’s mission, vision and values. What fuels the passion for the work your organization does or the care you provide to the community? Make sure to incorporate that passion and use unique storytelling techniques to ignite that passion in the new hire.
  4. Connection – Introducing new hires to their managers and pairing them with a “buddy” are now fairly standard parts of the orientation process, but larger organizations may also seek to help employees connect with other special interest groups – young professionals, community service, fitness and other groups.
  5. Check-Ins – Orientation should be just the first of many check-ins. The check-ins can be used to modify your orientation and onboarding processes based on employee feedback, identify perceived gaps between discussions about the job during the hiring process and the actual job and to adjust where possible and appropriate. Help employees focus on long-term career path plans and help them to connect with the organization’s educational resources that will help them meet these goals.

Making It Better

  1. Automate what you can. There is nothing like being handed a stack of paperwork that has to be completed shortly after arriving for the first day of work to deflate a new hire’s enthusiasm. Moving as much of that new-hire paperwork as possible online can save time for you and your employees and it can mean that you receive paperwork that is more accurate and complete – prior to orientation day. If manually completing paperwork still dominates much of your orientation program, it is time to consider alternatives.
  2. Start early. If possible, have managers reach out to new employees about a week or so prior to orientation. Provide managers with toolkits that will help them share information about the organization and what will happen during orientation. Have them share contact information for employees who may have questions or simply want to connect prior to their actual start dates.
  3. Create a personalized experience. Create opportunities for new hires to meet other employees, including their “buddies”, preceptors, and other like-minded employees when appropriate. Additionally, Education and onboarding aren’t the same for everyone. Instead of pushing out blocks of training to your clinicians, start investing in individualized education for a higher return.
  4. Tell your story. There simply is not an industry that has more compelling stories than healthcare so be sure to tell yours. People want to make a difference so be sure to share how their colleagues have made a difference in the lives of patients and families, coworkers, and your community.
  5. Make it productive. For clinical placement, make sure that the new employee arrives to a workstation that will make it easier for them to be productive more quickly. For leaders, find a solution that allows for the ability to manage multiple programs from a single platform.
  6. Include career development. You already know that turnover is expensive. Start early by helping new hires connect with the ways and means of career development in your organization. Create a path for new nurses to safely transition from students to competent and confident practitioners.

Orientation and Onboarding Solutions

If you are looking for easy-to-implement and practical means of onboarding new employees, HealthStream’s onboarding and placement programs can help.  They can help create the kinds of confident employees that will fit into your organization from Day One. HealthStream has worked with hundreds of organizations to help streamline this process, make it more engaging while still ensuring that you do not miss any of the essentials of onboarding.

Rapid onboarding is critical in today’s market, but you don’t need to compromise on quality. Backed by 30 years of response data and patented intelligence, Onboarding with Jane® accelerates and individualizes competency development for every nurse, at scale and under budget.

In addition, HealthStream’s Specialty Orientation can provide your team with targeted learning designed for unique clinical areas. Whether the employee is transitioning into a new area of practice or just starting out the content is designed to take them from orientation to confident practice quickly and efficiently.