Turnover Trouble Part 2: Strategies for effective onboarding

Make sure you don’t miss the first part of our Turnover Trouble series Start Hiring Smarter.

Congratulations! You’ve just hired someone you believe is an excellent fit for your practice and will provide you with years of good dentistry. Now’s the time to give yourself a quick pat on the back and then jump right into your plan to make their transition into the office successful.

To avoid the stress of losing a new team member to turnover you should have a specific plan in place for acclimating them to their role and the office culture. This plan should leave them feeling welcomed into the group and fully prepared for their position. A simple way to create an effective onboarding strategy is to break it down into three sections: the prep, the welcome, and the training.

The Prep

This is everything you should do before the new team member’s first day to make sure that when they start they feel you were ready and excited for them to be there. First, you should inform all team members of the hiring decision, including when the new hire will start, what their position will be, and who will primarily be involved with their training. Once that communication is complete meet with those individuals who will be working closely with the new person to set a training schedule. This allows for your current team to prepare for the changes in their work days. Next, you should contact the new employee a few days before they start to confirm the time you expect them to arrive and the first steps you want them to take. This will help alleviate any nerves they have and reconfirm you are looking forward to their joining the team. Finally, for any new employee have an office manual ready to give to them on their first day—this should include basic information about office policies, paperwork they’ll need to fill out, instructions on day-to-day tasks like clocking in and out, etc.

The Welcome

Make your new employee’s first day memorable! Starting work with a new office can be intimidating, so it’s up to the current team to make a new hire feel welcome. Alert whoever is at the front desk of their arrival, so they’ll be prepared to give them a warm greeting or even have a small welcome package prepared (food, flowers, or a card are all simple but thoughtful gestures). Give them a tour of your office, point out where they will be working, and introduce them to all the team members, giving them a moment or two to learn what they do and how they might work together. Then briefly sit down with the new team member and those who are going to be on their training team to take some time to let them get to know each other and have a short discussion of how they’ll be working together. Then before jumping headfirst into the thick of their training, offer something fun like a work lunch with a few key team members (on the office!) that can further create a foundation for positive team relationships. By incorporating positive, friendly experiences into a new hire’s first day you’ll calm their nerves and get them excited for their future at your practice.

The Training

Unlike other businesses where it’s fairly easy to take time to train someone new, dental employee training take a little more finesse to make sure it doesn’t disrupt the flow of a busy, patient-filled office. And that’s exactly why a pre-planned training schedule is essential to keeping transitional hiccups to a minimum. The schedule should start with two to three weeks of observation and question asking, so the new hire has plenty of time to familiarize themselves with the products and tools your team uses, the techniques they follow, and the patient experience they’re expected to provide. Check in after each day to gauge how quickly they’re catching on, and then gradually begin having them do basic tasks supervised by those leading their training. As more tasks are added to their plate continue to check in and make sure they’re comfortable with the work they’re doing.

At the end of the day you want their training to keep them stimulated but not overwhelmed, and the best way to do this is to emphasize communication. Make it clear you welcome their questions and feedback (it should never seem like it’s a burden to help them—even if you are completely swamped with other work), so that they’re training leaves them eager to tackle their work independently.

Don’t assume that once an employee is in the office, they’ll naturally feel like a part of the team. By welcoming and strategically transitioning them into their new role, you’ll increase the chance they’ll stick around for the long haul!