Every organisation has a different set of regulations and different culture. New employees go through a period of transition, where they get acquainted with the role, colleagues and the organisation. In hospitals, it is no different. Healthcare workers (HCWs) undergo a time-consuming process called onboarding.
What is onboarding?
A typical healthcare onboarding process would involve recruiting people, helping these new hires to understand their role as HCWs, and familiarising them with the hospital’s rules and regulations.
Usually, there are four phases of onboarding:
- Pre – onboarding
- Welcoming new hires
- Role-specific onboarding
- Easing the transition to their new role
Introducing new hires to their responsibilities is not the only goal. Fostering relationships between them and the organisation is also important. Managing this effectively will contribute to employee productivity and success.
Problems hospitals are experiencing
Onboarding is a very time-consuming and expensive process. In this article, we identify 3 key issues faced by hospitals in Australia:
- Time wasted on administrative tasks
- Staff attrition
- Negative impacts on patient outcomes
Time wasted on administrative tasks
After speaking to several hospitals throughout Australia, we determined roughly 80% of staff HR staff time is spent on administrative tasks that could be automated. The main culprit is the significant amounts of paperwork. This includes welcome emails, healthcare onboarding forms, essential policy documents and other new hire paperwork.
This is not only prevalent in the initial phase following the offer acceptance. New hires subsequently go through hospital orientation and department specific orientation, which entails more administrative tasks.
This delay in hospitals eventually leads to other issues such as staff attrition and negative patient outcomes.
The hiring process does not end after the employee signs the contract – It continues well into their tenure and employee experience determines the level of retention in the hospital.
Poor healthcare onboarding is one of the reasons why hospitals are losing new hires during onboarding. New hires need sufficient information to ease their transition into a new organisation. As such, communication between offer acceptance and start date is especially crucial.
Additionally, getting better offers during the onboarding process can further encourage the new hires to leave. We found the attrition of full time employees in their first six months is roughly 50%.
This increases the cost of employee turnover. Agency staff brought on as a result costs approximately 3 times more for hospitals.
Staff attrition caused by poor healthcare onboarding will only pose more challenges for hospitals considering the existing staff shortage brought about by burnout.
Negative impacts on patient outcomes
When staff leave, patient care suffers. It is important for a hospital to maintain a balanced nurse-to-patient ratio. If nurses have more patients to care for at once, they are likely to be more easily exhausted and have lower job satisfaction.
Additionally, familiarising themselves with the role and patients is not instantaneous, which may impact the quality of patient care. So even when it seems like the staff-to-patient ratio is balanced, patient care quality may still be impacted.
Therefore, the success of healthcare onboarding heavily determines the staff retention rate and its quality of patient care.
What can you do?
The primary goal should be to shorten the onboarding cycle while making it as thorough as possible. This includes:
- Tracking new hires’ experience
- Staying in compliance
- Framing the process with an onboarding checklist
Tracking new hires’ experience
It should be every hospital’s goal to retain their health care providers. After all, employee turnover increases cost for an organisation. To ensure new hires are satisfied with the healthcare onboarding process, you can consider regularly tracking their experience.
Of the many tools, an employee experience and sentiment tracking system will be the most useful in this situation. Ideally, you should identify the risk of staff attrition before it is too late. Sending out surveys to the new hires allows you to collate their actional feedback and gain insight into pressing issues within the onboarding process.
Staff management can be simplified when an organisation does not have to constantly worry about employee retention. Being able to pinpoint factors for improvement can quickly reduce staff attrition by ensuring employees have a memorable onboarding experience.
During onboarding, staying compliant is a top priority. Healthcare is easily one of the most tightly regulated industries, and is a long list of ever changing federal and state regulations to comply with.
This is why healthcare onboarding is more complex. Hospitals need to ensure they are collecting all the legally required documents from new hires.
As such, onboarding is especially necessary in ensuring compliance is attained. This way, organisations can be certain they are not compromising patient health and safety.
With Zipline’s compliance management system, your organisation can mitigate risks associated with non-compliance and avoid penalties. The compliance software can also create a comprehensive guide for new hires on compliance obligations.
Framing the process with a checklist
Having an onboarding checklist can speed up the process significantly by streamlining the procedures. New hires will know what is expected of them from the time they accept the offer to the end of the healthcare onboarding process. With better communication, they are more likely to form a good impression of your organisation and be more engaged.
The importance of onboarding is high, and as such, organisations should strive to have a successful onboarding process.
We hope this article gives you insight into the impacts of poor onboarding and some ways you can mitigate them.