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Companies must disclose, not withhold information from candidates during the recruiting process.

You cannot operate a successful onboarding program without fully integrating recruitment. Some may say that it is one of the most important factors for a business to consider, as without staff, how will the company function? No wonder so many business owners have turned to small business consultants, like those at Pherrus when they want to implement the best recruitment strategy that they can. It is an effective way to achieve brand development. A great onboarding program cannot be optimally effective if new employees – executives, department managers, supervisors and line employees – don’t fully understand and support the organization’s mission, its values, corporate cultural and performance expectations – prior to employment.

Waiting to educate people until after they have signed in for the first day of work is the kind of costly human capital mistake that America’s corporations, particularly its healthcare organizations, can no longer afford to make.

As our great national debate on healthcare reform continues, it is now more important than ever to focus on the importance of the human capital factor in running clinically effective, safe and efficient hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, etc. People are our most important asset, and manpower shortages and the competition for the best workers will drive turnover that providers can no longer afford. Onboarding – the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating new team members, and accelerating their ability to deliver meaningful value – is not an optional program that can be discarded in tough economic times.

So how do we successfully integrate the recruiting process into onboarding?

First, you must base the program on honesty. Companies must be honest with potential employees during the recruiting process. Disclosure – the good, the great and the not-so-hot elements of a company, its culture, and its way of doing business — is an essential part of the onboarding process. Inadequate disclosure, misrepresentation, or dishonesty will result in a costly miss-hire. Even the greatest of companies have those things on which they want to improve. Therefore, the best time to disclose those issues is at the start of the recruiting process.

Second, you must insist that your recruiters – your internal talent acquisition team or your third-party consultants – change their business process to ensure that the candidates are given an appropriate level of disclosure for their level within the organization. This is a challenge since most companies – and all recruiters – hate to disclose information that may be embarrassing or, at best, indicates an element of corporate imperfection that might make the recruitment process more challenging.

Here are five recommendations to integrate the recruiting and onboarding functions.

1. Insist on a comprehensive position description. Not that dull and generic document that reflects the legal description, but a detailed narrative that accurately describes the company and its values, its culture, scope of responsibility, performance deliverables and any hurdles that might limit or preclude success.

For a housekeeper or kitchen assistant, this document might be two or three pages. For a CEO or other senior executive, the document is more than likely going to be in the neighborhood of 30 to 60 pages and will including biographical profiles of the key leaders and direct reports.

Our research of position descriptions developed by other search firms covering major assignments shows that the average position description is between 8-12 pages, hardly a comprehensive explanation for a CEO or senior leadership candidate. Internal recruiters provide even less disclosure than their third-party counterparts do. This minimalist approach to disclosure almost always creates more questions than answers.

2. Ensure that the onboarding program is values based. Process and content must be built around the critical core values of the organization just like the Position Prospectus/Position Description and the in-depth candidate screening process.

3. Begin the discussions with candidates regarding the onboarding process during the recruitment process – the scope of the program and the company’s expectations regarding how the new employee will participate and that participation is neither optional nor is the program just some necessary evil requirement that must be completed before beginning the real work. Recruiters should make it clear to the successful candidate that he or she will be evaluated based on the quality of their participation.

Solicit questions from the candidates concerning corporate core values, performance expectations, decision-making style, etc. and track this information so that it can be used to tailor elements of the onboarding program. Company personnel cannot be shy about asking a candidate these tough questions. A one-size fits all onboarding program, especially at the management and executive level, does not work.

5. Incorporate a CEO values video. For lower level recruits, make watching a CEO video concerning the organization’s commitment to quality, safety, service, ethical conduct and respect for one another a critical part of the interview process with the requirement that each potential candidate acknowledge seeing and understanding the message.

Once a candidate has accepted an offer, it is really too late to begin the process of onboarding. In fact, tailoring and integrating the onboarding program to the recruiting process is essential. Get your recruiters involved, soliciting their input. It will enhance the quality of your program.

John G. Self is Chairman and Senior Client Advisor of JohnMarch Partners. He is a Co-Founder of the Firm. A former investigative reporter and crime writer with more than 30-years of healthcare leadership experience in public relations, national marketing, business development and as Chief Executive Officer of hospitals and consulting firms, Mr. Self is highly regarded for his keen insight into operations, business culture and for his ability to consistently select the right leaders.

You can contact Mr. Self at 214.220.1234 or Or you can follow him on Twitter at Self_JohnMarch. He is an active member of Linked In and a frequent editorial contributor.
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