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Part two of a two part blog series

Editor’s Note: In Tuesday blog post, John described the disastrous start to a CNO’s new job.  Things only got worse and she resigned before her 80th day on the job.  Today’s post discusses what a best-in-class program should look like.

Podcast Rescheduled:  Wednesday’s podcast did not air as scheduled due to a technical problem.  It will be distributed on Friday. 

Organizations that use enterprise-wide onboarding programs as a key feature in their human capital strategy, reduce turnover, accelerate productivity and enhance employee engagement, consultants say.  By expanding the program across all hires, organizations can magnify the potential benefits.

George B. Bradt, Chairman of PrimeGensis, an executive onboarding group and the author of “The New Leaders 100-Day Action Plan” is the man many consider to be the father of the onboarding concept.  He once told me that onboarding should start before an organization begins the recruitment process to avoid downstream turf battles, especially if it is a new executive position. 

At the executive level, best-in-class onboarding programs are two dimensional.  The organization succeeds in its goal of achieving a successful transition and long  productive tenure by moving the new employee from outsider to insider status  as quickly as possible.  They organization should support  the new executive’s development of a 100-day action plan to evaluate the team, communicate expectations and build support.  The two should work hand-in-hand.

Overall, while the onboarding process is still a work in progress, industries with a highly competitive recruiting environment, companies such as Facebook, IBM and Zappos, have transformed their onboarding approach because they have discovered its high economic value to their employment brand image, writes Prof. John Sullivan of the University of San Francisco. They now are pushing the boundaries into a sphere he calls “extreme onboarding,” which can include games, skits, and music – anything to ensure the new employees remain engaged in the process. While that approach is now being used by tech companies such as Rackspace and Bazaarvoice which report impressive returns on this program investment, most hiring managers in healthcare, and the financial officers who fund them, continue to  see onboarding as an after thought with very little business impact. 

In healthcare, as Baby Boomers begin to retire, the war for talent is beginning to heat up.  Competition for nurses, care management experts, information technology specialists and certain physician specialties is becoming intense. 

Not having a best-in-class onboarding program will place healthcare organizations at a competitive and cost disadvantage.

There are six foundational pillars which a best-in-class onboarding program should address, according to healthcare employee engagement advisors.

1. Commitment is critical.  To ensure that all new hires are successful, from the CEO to physicians with direct involvement in the process, there must be solid buy-in, that the organization is all in with its commitment that all new hires will be successful.

2. Your employees, not your customers, come first.  In healthcare, without a workforce of fully engaged employees, it is hard to sustain improved performance with quality, safety and patient satisfaction. Taking care of your employees, from before their first day and onward, will ensure improved performance across those critical criteria.  Successful onboarding is essential to building this type of culture.

3. Establish accountability for employee turnover.  Make senior leaders responsible for staying within the targeted range. Link a portion of the executive and management incentive plan to turnover and inculcate that feature in the onboarding principles.

4. Revise recruiting processes. Require a clearly defined job description, scope of responsibility and a list of performance deliverables before recruitment begins and streamline the number of interviews included in the process.  Increasing the number of interviews does not guarantee better recruiting outcomes, research shows.

5. Transparency is critical when recruiting.  Be transparent about the organization’s culture.  Every healthcare organization has good, bad, and ugly cultural qualities.  Be honest with the candidates.  Studies show that not understanding the culture, or not being clear about performance deliverables, are two of the most common reasons that candidates fail within the first 18 months of employment.

6. Use navigators.  Using the same principle of clinical navigators, designate internal and external navigators to help a new executive or manager avoid the sacred cows and other hidden potholes that trip up so many executives.  Providing new executives and managers with institutional context — insight and guidance — is very important.

Friday Podcast

Be sure to join John tomorrow for his weekly podcast. Technical problems precluded final production.   The podcast originally scheduled for Wednesday will air.