Onboarding – the Right Way

You have invested considerable time and money into finding a great candidate for that critical open position. The initial interview was fabulous—round two, with several departmental leaders joining in, even better. The employment offer you extended was quickly accepted. The start date is circled in red on the calendar. Now, it's time to kick back and relax, right? The hard work of finding and hiring a stellar candidate is over.


The hard work is by no means over. In fact, it has only begun. Following the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring comes possibly the most crucial step of all: onboarding.

Onboarding is the HR industry's term for the process of incorporating recruits into the organization. Also known as the "organizational socialization mechanism," that provides the necessary knowledge, skills, and insider information to assist new employees in becoming effective team members.

The importance of investing time and resources into your new team members cannot be overstated. By helping them understand your organization's systems, processes, and culture fully, you are supplying key ingredients that will contribute to their long-term success with the company.

Turnover is both costly and all too common in healthcare professions. For example, a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 17.5% of newly licensed RNs leave their first nursing job within the first year of employment. And with the 2020 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report finding that the average cost of turnover for one bedside RN is $44,400, the need for effective onboarding becomes clear.  


So, what should an onboarding process look like?


First, it should be warm, friendly, and personal rather than stoic, distant, and robotic. Stay connected with your new hire before they even begin. Send them any necessary paperwork, first day instructions, and be sure to be ready for them on Day 1 with an orientation schedule, name badge, and even some company swag.


Another great way to begin is to connect the new employee with a buddy, a go-to person for questions large and small. Ms. or Mr. Buddy need not have all the answers, providing they can point the new employee in the right direction. An essential buddy quality should be a caring and approachable spirit. The ideal person will welcome the opportunity to come alongside new team members, who will not consider the task a bother but rather a pleasure.


Beyond warm, friendly, and personal, onboarding should not be considered a sprint but a marathon event. Just as a marathon cannot be completed in an hour, effective onboarding takes time. And according to the LeaderStat team, this is where most companies drop the ball. Soon, the time dedicated to getting the new guy or gal "onboard" begins to stretch on in the co-workers' minds. Folks itching to get back to business as usual may tend to prematurely strip the new person of their "new" status, making a push for "getting the show on the road."


In reality, a well-conceived onboarding strategy should span the first six months of employment. Depending on the position, this may include such specifics as:

  • One-on-one meetings with key staff members and leadership personnel
  • Attendance at various departments' meetings to gain a feel for their priorities
  • Continual shadowing opportunities with peers and the department manager

Building a robust onboarding plan will result in happy, loyal employees who will hopefully stay with your organization for years. Start new hires off right with an onboarding plan that makes them feel welcomed and comfortable as it acclimates them to your organization.


Contact Us

LeaderStat specializes in direct care staff, interim leadership, executive recruitment, travel nursing and consulting for healthcare organizations nationwide.