5.13.11 Issue #479 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Your New Employee Orientation Doesn’t Work - And It’s Costing You Big
by Sally McKenzie CEO

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So you’ve hired another staff member for your team. Congratulations! Now what? In many dental practices, the new employee “orientation” goes something like this: the employee arrives that first day and is shown the phone, the computer, and the bathroom. S/he is given a few papers to sign and tossed into the water. Will s/he sink or swim?

For all the time, energy, and money that must be poured into the hiring process, one would think that dental teams would put forth greater effort to ensure there is a plan for success when the new employee enters the practice. Not so, in most cases.

All too often, we find that new employees - be they business assistants or associate dentists - are brought into a practice and left to drift along. They pick up kernels of information here and there, but, for the most part, they are single-handedly struggling to figure things out in order to become effective contributors to the team. Not surprisingly, important details fall through the cracks, procedures aren’t followed, and “issues” begin to arise. The problems escalate, yet rather than examining the systems, the finger-pointing begins. What should have been a positive experience turns into a hiring disaster. It could have and should have been avoided if a real plan to integrate employees into the position and the practice had been implemented the moment a job was offered.

Rest assured, dentistry isn’t the only profession lacking in this area. Businesses of all types and sizes have long looked at the new employee orientation as something of a transactional one-day event. However, in this hyper-competitive market in which employers have become far more selective in their hiring choices and dissatisfied employees often begin scanning the horizon for new opportunities within a few months on a new job, there is far greater appreciation for the bottom-line value of taking steps to ensure that the new employee will succeed.

The days of the “employee orientation” are over. Today, it’s known as “onboarding,” a process of integrating new hires into the organization and its culture. This year-long course of action is designed to help ensure that the new hire understands the mission of the organization and is equipped with the necessary tools, re­sources, and knowledge to become successful and productive. Central to effective onboarding are activities that McKenzie Management has been advocating for many years, including clearly communicating performance expectations, providing ongoing feedback, and offering training opportunities.

More than the latest management trend, studies indicate that effective onboarding pays off. Research conducted by the Recruiting Round­table revealed that effective onboarding programs can improve employee performance by up to 11.3%. What’s more, the process helps the rest of the team better assess the new employee’s strengths and weaknesses, making it essential in evaluating whether the new hire will ultimately succeed in the position, long before serious problems arise. Additionally, the process can significantly reduce employee turnover as it enables the new hire to affirm their choice to accept the job. Research conducted by the Aberdeen Group found that 90% of employees decide whether or not they will stay in a position or begin look­ing for a new job during the first six months.

Other studies show that effective onboarding programs can improve employee retention by 25%. This can reduce the high cost of turnover that, by some estimates, costs organizations 30-50% of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150% for mid-level employees and up to 400% for specialized, high-level employees.*  Moreover, in some cases it may take more than a year to recruit and train a suitable replacement, which further effects productivity and overall employee morale. 

Every employer hopes that new employees can hit the ground running.  Those that go through a comprehensive, structured onboarding process reach higher levels of productivity more quickly than those who do not - up to two months faster, in fact. In a small dental practice where the effectiveness of each employee has a profound impact on total practice success, ensuring that the new hire can be as effective as possible as quickly as possible only makes sense.

Next week, get your new employees onboard, step-by-step.

*Blake, Ross, “Employee Retention: What Employee Turnover Really Costs Your Company,” ManagerNewz.com (July 2006).

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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