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Are Your Onboarding/ Induction Processes More Stressful Than They To Be?

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick
Getting your onboarding right is one of the most pressing challenges facing healthcare organisations in the UK today.

Studies have shown that inadequate or poorly run nurse onboarding or inducting correlates to high turnover. And yet, in an industry plagued by retention issues, most healthcare organisations continue to labour on with outdated and ineffective onboarding strategies.

An effective onboarding strategy doesn’t have to be complicated to create lasting success. In fact, the more complex something is, the more likely it is to cause confusion, which in the context of carrying out a new role can lead to anxiety and stress.

Here are some ways you can ensure that your onboarding process is straightforward and effective without being confusing or stressful.

 

Be Organised, Be Prepared

Why invest so much time and money in the recruitment process, only to make your nurse hires feel like an afterthought on their first day? Making them feel valued from day one will increase retention.

This means ensuring that your orientation and onboarding process isn’t an afterthought. Make sure that everything your new nurse needs will be available and ready to go on their first day. For example, all logins, IDs and schedules should be set up and ready for their arrival. Emailing new nurse hires the day before they start, with a detailed schedule for their first day can also settle their nerves and make them feel more valued.

The onboarding process involves many people from different departments, all needing to work in a cohesive and collaborative way to establish a positive onboarding experience for a new employee. Otherwise, onboarding can quickly become a tangled, confusing series of disconnected moments that achieve little more than giving new hires second thoughts about accepting the position in the first place.

Create a detailed schedule ahead of time that clearly spells out who is responsible for which particular onboarding tasks, when they will be accomplished, and group them with similar activities to maximise efficiency.

 

Create A Clear And Formal Schedule

Provide your new nurse hires with their own list of goals and the tasks they’ll need to accomplish throughout the onboarding process. This should include a detailed schedule as well as the supervisors or co-workers that might be assisting them. Introducing new hires into a regular, daily routine will ramp them up faster and allow them to become more self-sufficient and productive.

Having established formal procedures in place early on will also provide a much-needed foundation as the onboarding progresses and your nurse hire becomes more comfortable in their new role. Formality should never be mistaken for rigidity; however, as a high degree of flexibility is required to accommodate every individual's unique learning pace and ability to absorb new information.

Coordinate with co-workers, management, and nurse leaders to best prepare for future onboarding events, and always provide follow-up materials to your new hire that will reinforce what they’ve learned throughout the process.

 

Don’t confuse orientation with onboarding

Although the terms orientation and onboarding are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference. Orientation is a singular event occurring at some point during onboarding, which provides the new hire with an opportunity to complete routine paperwork and other necessary administrative tasks.

However, onboarding is the process of building engagement from the first contact until the new hire becomes established within the organisation, which usually happens over a period of 3 to 6 months, depending on the nurse’s level of experience.

While HR typically like to bundle orientations into the first day or two, it’s better to split this into a few 1-2 hour sessions across the first week or two. Rather than having your new nurse spend their first day reading policies and procedures, try to set out a structured plan for the first week. In addition to making them feel less overwhelmed (and stressed) with information overload, this will ensure your new nurse feels a sense of structure and purpose in their role from the beginning.

 

Establish clear goals and expectations

An important part of onboarding is understanding an employee’s goals, explaining your organisation’s goals and working to align these in a common mission.

Without clear targets, it’s impossible to acknowledge achievements, making it easy for new hires to become demotivated and disillusioned. This highlights the need for ongoing performance evaluations and regular one-to-ones with mentors or managers.

Every worker wants to know what’s expected of them. Onboarding is the ideal time and environment to be transparent and upfront with a new employee, providing succinct expectations for their particular role. Establishing clear goals and agreeing upon the metrics that you’ll use to measure their performance from the beginning will make CDPs more meaningful for your nursing staff.

Management should also use this time to consistently check in on a nurse hire’s progress, reinforcing critical concepts, and requesting feedback to see where the process can be improved. Onboarding needs to be a coordinated and ongoing approach if it’s going to succeed. Aim to show new hires the things they need to know right away while continuing to support and acclimatise them over time.

 

Assign A Mentor To Your New Hire

While management undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in the onboarding process, a mentoring colleague can provide the new team member with an insightful perspective that is more representative of what they'll experience on a daily basis. As instrumental as classroom instruction can be to onboarding for the simple purpose of conveying and absorbing important information, there will always be questions regarding the minutia of the workplace and job itself that are best answered by a knowledgeable coworker serving as a guide.

To make the most of such a mentorship, however, make every attempt to request volunteers for the role rather than randomly assigning them. A new hire will gain a lot more from the experience if the mentor is excited to be in the position and doesn't view it as a hindrance to their other responsibilities. Mentors should be role models who embody what it takes to be a great nurse.

Effective onboarding should build relationships and networks that rapidly integrate nurse hires, by giving them the core skills that will enable them to be effective healthcare professionals.
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