Training New Employee

10 keys for successful hiring in your dental office

Oct. 30, 2013
Easy steps can make a smooth transition for your new dental office hire
Here we go again — there’s a new hire and she has to be trained. The team meets her for the first time at the morning huddle, where directives are given to everyone to show her the ropes, introduce her around, and make sure that she understands the rules. At the end of the week, when the payroll hours are called in, it is discovered that the W-4, I-9, and the direct deposit paperwork were never given to her. The chance of this new employee sticking around is about one in four.

Everyone needs a guide to the rules when joining a new group, class, or job. When five-year-olds begin school, they have a kindergarten roundup, college students have freshman orientation, and new employees have onboarding. (Onboarding is the term used to acclimate a new employee with the processes, policies, and culture of a company.)

Poor onboarding leads to a high turnover rate, low productivity, reduced employee engagement, and degradation of the company name. Most small businesses cannot afford to suffer from one of these, much less all of them. Some of the pitfalls that prevent a business from having a structured onboarding process include:

• Not having a workstation available or ready for the new hire.
• Not expecting the new hire to be productive on day one. At a minimum, a new hire can answer the phones, verify insurance, or learn how to set up trays.
• Giving all of the directions all at once, forcing the new hire to “drink out of a fire hose.” Information is difficult to process when it’s doled out all at once.
• Adopting a sink or swim philosophy.
• Not assigning a mentor to show the new person the ropes.
• Using poor language, including the words “probationary period.” This can void the at-will employment status.
• Having vague or no job descriptions.

These pitfalls can be avoided by taking some basic. A strong, structured on-boarding process could consist of the following:

1. Meet with the entire team before the first day of work, and an introductory lunch with the team is often helpful. Keep in mind that these are the people that will be working with the new hire.
2. Once it is determined that there will be a new hire, send all of the paperwork in advance so it’s ready to be turned in before the first workday begins.
3. The new hire’s resources and networks (workstation) should be ready and available on day one.
4. Set performance expectations, preferably in writing. An offer letter* spells out compensation, benefits, and future rewards, raises, or bonuses.
5. Written job descriptions* allow an employee to understand the crux of the job, including generalized statements such as, “Assist with other jobs as needed by doctor or office manager.”
6. Assign meaningful work as of day one, even if that means stocking rooms, working the sterile lab, answering phones, and more.
7. Provide adequate training without giving it all at once.
8. Monitor performance, correct undesirable behavior immediately in private, and recognize contributions in public.
9. Set goals for future contributions.
10. Schedule a timely performance review* as set out in your office manual (90 days).

Welcoming a new employee ensures the smooth transition of a situation that could be tumultuous. Ultimately the office manager, or in the absence of an office manager the doctor, is charged with making new employees feel welcome, establishing their responsibilities, and orienting them in their new position. The entire team should help familiarize the new employee with the company culture. There's so much to cover and the process can seem overwhelming, yet together and with the right steps, employee onboarding can be a huge success.

(*email [email protected] for a samples)

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Denise Ciardello is a professional speaker, published author, and cofounder of Global Team Solutions, a practice management consulting firm that brings clinical and administrative teams together through customized practice development and coaching. She is an expert in efficient business systems and helping practices improve marketing results, professional image, and the bottom line. Her enthusiasm and knowledge for the dental profession has motivated many dental teams. Contact her at [email protected].