Hiring New Staff? Aim for Success by Using Good Interviewing and Onboarding Skills

By Donna Weinstock
July 3, 2019

Starting a new employee and assuming he or she will be successful is no longer a given. Healthcare organizations need to be vested in their new hires and employees to ensure they will have a positive influence on the organization. Learning onboarding skills will encourage success.

INTERVIEWING

Make sure the duties match the job description. Leave nothing to chance or assumption. You cannot discriminate against a potential employee for race, religion, size, or culture, but you do have the right to hire a person who is able to perform the tasks within the job description.

The interview should be geared to allow you to learn as much as possible about the candidate. Get specifics from the potential employee on how his or her past experience will help with this position.

Allow the candidate to understand what the position entails and what your expectations will be. Determine whether his or her personality and values complement your organization’s culture.

It may be a good idea, in some situations, to include current employees in the specific department in determining what is needed and what kind of person would be a potentially great candidate. A current valued employee knows what is needed in the practice and may be able to add insight into the hiring process. This also tells the current employee that you value his or her opinion.

Once you have found appropriate candidates, verify their certifications. Also, verify that they did, in fact, graduate or earn a degree from the place where the interviewee said he or she graduated. It is hard to believe, but a number of candidates forge the documentation they submit to a potential employer.

It has become very common practice to perform background checks on potential hires. Some organizations also perform credit checks, especially for positions that handle money. Drug testing is also an option for new employees. Onboarding should include the entire process of hiring and training.

Finally, get at least two references. Learn the right questions to ask those references to get enough information to determine whether the candidate is the right person for the position. Just knowing a person worked at a previous practice is not enough to know whether he or she is a team player and whether he or she will be successful at doing the job.

Be aware, however, that many former employers, for legal or policy reasons, will verify only dates of employment. But even this may help, since if that is who the interviewee gives as a reference, it may be a red flag. When getting references, try to determine whether it is a supervisor giving a good reference or a peer pretending to be the supervisor. 

Before hiring a new employee, discuss the benefits that are offered, how raises are determined, and when raises can be expected.

CREATE A WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT

You have your new employee. You hired the perfect person. Now it is time to make the person successful. Onboarding is allowing that person to thrive in your environment. Announce to your current staff that you have hired a new employee. Let the staff know when to expect the new hire and what his or her role will be. There is nothing worse than a look of surprise on a current staff member’s face when introduced to a new employee because she did not know someone was starting.

Consider sending around a biography of the new employee. If the new employee will be wearing a name tag, order it and have it ready on the first day of employment. This tells the employee you are ready and waiting for him or her to start working.

New employees should be expected to read your policy manual.

Be “technology-ready” for your new hire. Have a computer ready with a new password and any other equipment the new employee will need. His or her telephone should be programmed so all the new employee has to do is set up voice mail. His or her desk should have printer access. Schedule computer training—employees need to be aware of which Internet sites will help them with their duties, and computer training is an important part of success for new employees.

Introduce the new employee to everyone in the office. Show him or her around so he or she is familiar with the new surroundings and is comfortable in knowing where things are located. Offer information on parking, lunch facilities, and what is needed on the first day of employment.

READ THE POLICY MANUAL

Set up a training schedule that allows the new hire to understand the healthcare organization as well as his or her position. New employees should be expected to read your policy manual. They should also read any procedures that relate to what they will be doing. Make sure they have a copy of their job description that you discussed with them during the interview process. Spend time and review these items with the new hire to confirm he or she understands the expectations. It is easier to meet an expectation when a person knows and understands what that expectation is.

The policy manual helps employees to understand the office and its procedures. It allows employees to understand what the expectations are and allows them to meet those expectations.

New hires need to be allowed to do their HIPAA training as well as any other training that needs to be done. Saying to an employee, “you need to do this,” and not allowing ample time sets a negative tone for the employee.

Know ahead of time who will be training this new person. Have a plan regarding how this will be achieved and what the time frame is. Part of training is learning your electronic health record system. Have a capable person ready and available for training. Consider assigning a mentor for the new employee.  This may sound difficult and you may wonder how you can spare an employee to train your new hire, but the sooner and better you get him or her trained, the sooner the employee will be functional and valuable to your department.

As you determine the start date of the employee, make sure that the manager will be available that day, as well as any staff who will be training. Review the job description as a way for the new employee to reacclimate to the practice expectations. Assure him or her that you will allow a reasonable amount of time to learn the position.

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When a new hire starts, review the goals and expectations you have for him or her. Goals can be both short-and long-term. This allows the employee to understand and, hopefully, comply with your timetable. It is a good time to go over the mission and vision of the practice. The practice’s goals are as important as the goals you set for employees. All employees should keep the mission, vision, and goals of a practice in mind.

Processes should be written out in your handbook, which will allow employees to more easily learn the task. This also allows for consistency. Everyone does the task the same way each time. When the procedure is written, even a person who is covering a position temporarily will be able to perform the tasks in the same manner as the permanent employee.

Be specific on how to answer a phone, take a message, and communicate with patients. The same is true whether a staff member is caring for a patient, cleaning a room, or collecting money. Consistency in procedures is essential. Allow your staff members to learn and read about the procedures that their jobs require.

Onboarding encourages loyalty and a commitment to your organization. Encouraging a new employee to be successful can have a direct impact on how committed he or she is to their position. Committed and dedicated employees are better employees and often stay at their jobs longer.  Job performance and job satisfaction increase with a proper onboarding plan. Your new hire will be less stressed and better prepared to function when your practice takes the time to plan ahead and train appropriately.

Hiring and training new employees is expensive. By encouraging employees to stay, your practice saves money and time. Efficient onboarding is, therefore, essential.

Your new employee is training or trained; now what? How do you keep your employees satisfied? Encourage positive social interactions not only between the manager and the employee, but among employees. When employees get along, they tend to help one another more. The “team” motto works better.

Conduct regular reviews to discuss job performance, expectations, and ongoing goals. These reviews are often conducted at six months and then again at a year. Reviews should continue even after the first year of employment. They should be a dialogue, focusing on both how employees feel they are doing and how you feel they are doing. 

Onboarding should not end when the patient is trained; it should be ongoing.

Hold regular staff meetings. This allows for the manager to pass information on to employees more efficiently; it allows for additional training; and it allows employees to share issues that they are having. Staff meetings should be positive and promote education and good will.

Continuing education helps keep staff current and fresh. Practices often believe that only employees who need to keep their certifications current should attend continuing education courses. In fact, every employee should attend educational programs. A front desk receptionist might attend a customer service presentation, whereas a hospital billing employee could benefit from a program on increasing revenue and collections.

Proper onboarding practices increase job performance and satisfaction. They demonstrate to your employees that you are vested in their success, which allows them to be equally vested.  Taking time to hire and train employees properly allows greater success for your company. Decreasing turnover should allow for better, more efficient employees and increase your revenue and success. Set your goals and standards to achieve the best possible results from your employees. Onboard for success!

Donna Weinstock

President, Office Management Solution

Northbrook, IL

Article first appeared in the Journal of Medical Practice Management

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