Who you hire and how you train them are two of the most important decisions affecting your organization. This is true from entry level to the leadership team. The people you allow into your organization are the working capital that can mean the difference between success and failure.
If you are spending more time dealing with turnover and disciplinary actions, it is time to look closely at how you are selecting and training new employees.
Here are 11 areas of focus to consider in onboarding employees:
1. Determining qualifications per job level
It seems obvious that unless you know what you are looking for you will most likely never find it. However, it is not uncommon that candidates are selected based upon availability and a cursory look at qualifications. Human Resource (HR) departments may believe that this will be sorted out by the interviewer, but this is a waste of precious time that no one (including the candidate) can afford. Make certain that HR, hiring managers and interviewers have, in writing, the talents, education and experience solid candidates must have for every job level. It can be as simple as a checklist. While this may be labor-intensive on the front end, it will save cost and time in the long run.
2. Selecting Appropriate Candidates for Interview
Now that you know what you are looking for, you must know who fits that description. The checklist of minimum standards is only the beginning. Fitting the temperament, personality and soft skills into the hiring equation is critical. This is how you create culture within the organization. Anyone who has ever seen the movie The Internship where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson try to fit into the Google culture understands that the “fit” is critical to success. As Simon Sinek says, “Surround yourself with people who believe what you believe and great things happen.” Be aware that different parts of your organization may require different “fits.” For example the hospice team may be very different than the finance team.
3. Selecting the Proper Person to Conduct the Interview
How do you determine who conducts interviews at each level? Is it the director of that department only? Do you conduct peer to peer interviews? What qualifications do those who conduct interviews have to complete this very important task? Just because I am an expert in a particular area does not mean I know what questions to ask, how to evaluate the responses and what to look for. Do those conducting the interviews have adequate time set aside in their day? Providing training to those who are to conduct interviews is well worth the investment.
4. Determining the Interview Process
Taking the time to create a process is valuable to successful tracking of each candidate. We are all very busy and unless you have a specific process flow that candidates are guided through, it is easy to lose track of them. You want efficiency in the process so that good candidates do not move on to other opportunities. It shows respect to all candidates and indicates that your organization is efficient, well-organized and professional.
5. Asking the Right Interview Questions
The quality of the interview is directly related to the type of interview, as it will guide the questions and discussion. There are many options such as, behavioral interviews, case interviews, group interviews, phone and video interviews, second interviews, etc. The goal of the interview is not to determine basic qualifications as this should already have been completed. The goal is to determine the “fit,” the personality and soft skills which will match the role. I have often said that conducting an interview over lunch without asking a single question about the job would reveal the true candidate personality. Do they say thank you, are they patient; do they hold the door open; are they easily frustrated by the waiter’s error? You can train skills, but you cannot change the kind of person you hire.
6. Interpreting the Answers
It requires skill and experience to determine not only that responses were accurate but also what drives those responses. Are they nervous; are they too rehearsed; do they just need an opportunity despite the need for more experience? I can recall going back to work after years of raising my three sons. I had been away from Nursing for about ten years and applied for a home care position. I had never worked in homecare, had been away from direct care for years and was nervous. That hiring manager saw something in me that led to a fantastic career and I never disappointed her. To this day I thank her for looking beyond the resume and taking a chance on me!
7. Matching the Candidate with the Role
While a candidate may have applied for a role in one department, they may be better suited for another area. Matching the candidate with the role is about determining where they will be most successful. This means they will be fulfilled and will be more likely to stay with the organization. A happy employee makes a happy and successful organization.
8. Background and Reference Checks
Each organization has specific requirements for background and reference checking. I cannot stress enough the importance of checking these BEFORE the offer is made. I have seen situations where HR had to pull someone from orientation because a background check came back with an issue. Not the place anyone wants to be! While references may be seen as a formality, it is still important to follow through on them. Checking to see if the individual worked at a place where one of your trusted employees worked is also a way to check references.
9. A Proper Welcome!
Not much feels more like the first day in a new high school than the first day at a new job. We all feel a bit out of our element, stressed and unsure. The first impression you make on your new employee is crucial. How do you make them feel welcomed and a part of the culture? This should not be left to chance; you must have specific processes in place. A few ideas we have used successfully include: lunch with the leadership team during orientation; a picture of the new employee with their bio on the unit saying “Welcome”; follow up over coffee after one month; assigning a leadership mentor who stays in touch; a small welcome gift.
10. Orientation, Training and Assimilation
This is where we set the new employee up for SUCCESS! When they are successful, we are successful. Therefore, investing in a well-planned and executed orientation pays a massive return; not doing so will undo all the hard work that came before. It is also vital that those who provide training are star players. I have seen organizations where poor performers are responsible for training new employees. Is it any wonder that bad habits are then perpetuated? Recognize that proper training is going to cost money in the short-run, but poor training will cost in turnover and errors that increase risks and costs. Ensuring that the new employee is a positive part of the culture is part of their assimilation. Having that leadership mentor is key here.
11. Feedback Loop
Even the best onboarding process will not work 100% of the time. In order to determine where process improvement may be necessary you must establish outcome measures based upon the goals of the program. These outcomes must be reported on a regular basis to the quality committee or leadership board and also to those responsible for each part of administering the program. These should be opportunities for everyone to improve, not criticisms.
Examples of outcome measures include: Capture rate of candidates to employees; turnover rate within one year per job description/department; reasons for leaving organization; voluntary/involuntary termination; employee satisfaction per job category/department; success rates of interviewer in selecting successful candidates.
In summary, the importance of a strong onboarding program cannot be overvalued as employees are the backbone of who we are, what we do and how we are represented to the community. It is a critical part of the balance of operations, programs, people and service.