As is true in every industry, hiring the right people and training them properly are essential steps for retention. Once hired, new employees typically start with an onboarding process. According to Gallup, only 12% of employees feel like their onboarding was done well. Conversely, employees who have positive onboarding experiences are three times as likely to feel prepared and supported in their role.
Knowing that staff retention is a key outcome of a strong training program, how does your company’s onboarding stack up? Historically, home medical equipment (HME) companies have lacked structured training programs and typically underestimate the length of time training requires. As companies continue to grow and consolidate, expect to see training initiatives become more of a focus as the emphasis on employee retention intensifies.
In this article, I will discuss personnel and onboarding, the impact of company culture on the new hire, and expectations, goals and tools to achieve on-boarding success.
Research shows that the sooner a new hire is introduced to people in the company, the better. Further, having the new employee meet key stakeholders at the outset of their employment makes a tremendous difference in their first impression and sense of belonging.
For some companies, meeting the CEO over coffee is part of the onboarding process. When that isn’t possible, holding a group introduction is another way to have the key stakeholders meet new hires. In another company, the CEO calls every new employee to personally welcome them to the almost-5,000 employee business. That is a commendable gesture.
Another great idea for initially onboarding a new employee is to tell them specifically why they were hired. It makes the person aware of what you saw in them that earned them the job. Moreover, it will help them focus on their strengths, a key component to success. Another way to instruct a new employee is to provide them with an employee directory that includes each staff member’s role in the company and contact information. This provides a “who’s who,” enables the new person to feel a part of the team and gives them an idea of whom they can reach out to as needed.
According to one LinkedIn survey, 66% of job seekers think that culture is a vital consideration when deciding on career opportunities. Welcoming a new employee to multiple departments in addition to the one where they will be placed and providing opportunities for immediate bonding can provide a good first impression. To enhance team culture and a sense of inclusion, give the employee swag such as a coffee mug with the company’s name or clothing with the company’s insignia when they first start. Include a personalized welcome letter.
New hires have shared with me that hands-on training methods make the onboarding process fun and tangible. Such hands-on methods can include learning how each piece of equipment operates and scavenger hunts to help them find key places in the office. Studies show that these types of engagement tactics will help your team outperform others by 20% or more.
Another key component that enlightens and supports a new staff member is the way you set expectations so they are aware of what should happen at each step in their onboarding process.
For example, some HME companies have created a “What to expect to after week one, week two, etc.” document. Supervisors typically meet with the new hire to review their progress and to help with any questions or concerns at the end of each week. Further, some HME providers have at least one trainer/team lead per every six to 12 people on duty. This means that there is always someone available to help.
To ensure the new hire understands that it takes time to learn their tasks, give them industry benchmarks. For example, many HME companies state that a new hire should not be expected to take phone calls for at least 12 weeks; a few might do it earlier but admit to the riskiness of phone duty earlier than 12 weeks. Tell the new staffer how many lines they should expect to work or orders they should expect to confirm in a day. Finally, tell the new employee that it takes upwards of six months to a year before they will feel completely comfortable in their position. A mentor advising them will help them maintain confidence along the onboarding journey.
Tools & Trackers
There are tools and cheat sheets that can help new employees feel a sense of belonging. Survey the new employee after a few weeks to determine the effectiveness of the early stages of the onboarding process. Responses from the survey will dictate shifts in the process as necessary. Also provide a checklist of what the new hire is expected to know at each interval in the process. It should include what they have accomplished that week as well as an assessment of how well the person is progressing. This is done by auditing their work and measuring it against stated goals. Remediation that is done early in the process makes it easier to detect if a person might learn differently or if someone is not catching on.
Helpful tools include recorded Teams or Zoom trainings, learning management system assessments and further mentorship. Regardless of the training method, as the new employee makes progress, showing appreciation for a job well done will give them the confidence to build on their success.
When you onboard a new employee, ask about their preferred appreciation method and their favorite snacks, candies or activities. When a reward is earned, personalizing it makes it that much more special of a gift.
While hiring the right person is essential, it is not the end of the story. Once the person begins their first day, the real opportunity for success begins.
From the people they meet to the culture of the company, a real fit for the employee will take shape. That, combined with clear expectations of the onboarding process and with specific tools and trackers used to mark their progress, will create the environment tailored for a new hire’s success. And as I always say, success breeds success.