No Time for Employee Orientation? Then Keep on Hiring…

Newly hired employees do not arrive on their first day complete, with all the information and skills to be successful. Regardless of their years of experience in healthcare or a specific position, each and every new employee needs an extensive, facility-specific orientation. They don’t know how the facility operates, from policies, procedures, and processes to resident populations, likes, and dislikes. Most important, however, is that they don’t know the organization’s expectations for performance. If left to “figure it out” by themselves, they will most likely do something you don’t like, fail and leave. If so, this is not their fault—the responsibility lies with the facility/organization/leadership.

New employees need to be prepared and educated for their position. Facility and departmental orientations educate new employees about their role and the specifics for working in their respective department, and is an opportunity to communicate facility standards and expectations for performance
as an employee in this facility. Not only do you need to determine their knowledge and level of skill, but they need to know the way in which you want those skills performed. Communicating organizational expectations for performance is critical if you want the employee to succeed. If your expectation is for each employee to be respectful, work with others in all departments and “wear all hats,” then tell them. Share with them the high standards you have established and the importance of their contribution.

An appropriate orientation is more than the necessary employment paperwork and mandatory information on infection control and universal precautions. It should be a combination of didactic and experiential learning, beyond regulatory requirements. At least two weeks of this daily interaction with managers, and working side-by-side with peers in their department provides the opportunity to experience the new environment with seasoned staff and to become comfortable before launching into a position all alone.

A thorough orientation is a collective effort. More than one person should be responsible for the teaching, exposing the new employee to additional perspectives, styles, and even departments. With careful, thoughtful planning, a written, specific orientation plan should be developed and consistently followed, allowing for feedback on the system from both the new employee and those responsible for the orientation. This allows for ongoing evaluation of the orientation system, with results used to make changes and improvements to orientations as appropriate.

Prepare people to be successful. Communicate clearly what the job entails and your expectations for their performance. Invest time and energy in new staff and they are likely to invest in you.

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