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How To Create An Adaptive Onboarding Process For Healthcare Workers

GettyImages-1302453808Change — and more importantly, disruptive change — is taking place across practically every industry today. And while a failure to adapt and remain at the frontier of change can often feel like a life or death scenario for growing businesses, there is only one industry where this actually rings true: healthcare.

For this reason, creating an effective onboarding strategy should be a top priority for healthcare organizations right now. But while there are some excellent resources out there for successfully onboarding new employees, it can be a little trickier within the healthcare industry.


Introducing the Challenge

Onboarding is typically a pretty standardized process. In highly uniform industries like IT and software engineering, it’s clear that an onboarding process based on criteria matching and box-ticking can be an efficient way to bring in the right people, at the right time.

Healthcare, however, is different. Of course, healthcare has its standardized aspects — best practices, federal and state regulations, HIPAA, electronic medical records, and so on — but it also has a number of areas that aren’t quite as easy to systemize.

In healthcare, we’re not looking for the same from every employee, nor do we expect it. Changing models of care, and a need for different approaches for different patients means that a rigid, box-ticking onboarding process could potentially do more harm than good.


The Impact of Inflexibility

In healthcare, inflexible onboarding not only increases the risk of bringing in the wrong people, but also the risk of failing to support and nurture the right talents. Some of the traditional onboarding processes can result in low job satisfaction rates and sub-optimal job success rates, which can be detrimental in an industry that already struggles with staff retention rates.

Recent reports show that almost 6% of hospital budgets are eaten up by high levels of staff turnover due to funds needed to attract, acquire, and train new employees on an all-too-regular basis. But can we really blame ineffective onboarding techniques for high turnover? It appears so, with research suggesting that around 65% of people admit to leaving their position following a negative onboarding experience. 


Adaptive Onboarding

The solution is adaptive onboarding: a modern onboarding process that’s flexible and can be adapted quickly and easily. The process can be adapted to either match the needs of each individual hire or to match the evolving hiring needs of the organization as a whole. Adaptive onboarding delves deeper into what both the business and the employee need to succeed, and it takes a personalized approach to support new talent.

But adaptive onboarding isn’t without its flaws. Standardized onboarding brings clarity, while adaptive onboarding introduces more scope for misunderstanding. Therefore, a vital prerequisite to creating an adaptive onboarding process for new healthcare workers is to ensure that the right technologies are in place to minimize the risk of uncertainty.

Prior to developing a strategy, healthcare organizations should begin to introduce technology to streamline and simplify internal processes. This could include online scheduling software, which allows employees to keep track of their shifts, or communications software, which enables records to be easily and confidentially passed between departments. It’s about creating an environment that supports and drives a future where the employee experience is both prioritized and valued.


Developing an Effective Strategy

It probably comes as no surprise to learn that that key to a good adaptive onboarding process is data. Big data is much more than just an over-hyped buzzword; it’s the essential component we need to gain more insight into many business practices.

And to fully understand what an organization needs, and what its employees need, we need a bit of insight. Here are five simple steps towards creating an effective, data-driven adaptive onboarding strategy:


1. Utilize Technology

We’ve touched upon the importance of big data, but simply collecting and storing data is not enough; organizations need an appropriate dashboard to handle this data and facilitate effective workforce management. 

Collecting data is one thing, but being able to see and actually use this data is another. With the right technology, data can be analyzed to identify the most pressing discrepancies between what you’re doing now, and what your employees need from their experience.


2. Identify Skills Gaps

Artificial intelligence is being used more and more by HR teams, but there are some challenges of AI in recruitment. One such challenge is losing the human touch. Automation is making us obsessed with filling open vacancies, so much so that we forget to actually consider what skills we really need.

There’s a lot of talk right now about recruiting for culture, but to create an adaptive onboarding process, organizations need to recruit for skill. While standardized onboarding will prioritize qualifications and certifications, adaptive onboarding looks at whether a candidate’s strengths align with business needs.


3. Generate Customized Training Programs

A standardized onboarding process assumes all candidates start at the same place. In healthcare, however, we know that’s not always true. New employees don’t need to be taught everything; they need businesses to understand what they already know, and what they need to know in order to expedite the narrowing of the skills gap through targeted training.

Data is the key to this. By using data to gain further insight into both the candidate experience and the employee experience, it becomes easier to create personal training programs and customize the onboarding process.


4. Offer Continuous Learning

There’s a common misconception that onboarding is temporary; that it’s used only for candidates and new employees. And maybe that’s how standardized onboarding works, but adaptive onboarding is an ongoing process that extends well into the employee journey.

By creating a long-term strategy, employees can choose tailored pathways through their entire learning experience. Adaptive onboarding should prioritize the use of relevant content and events to continue that initial support all the way through the individual’s time with the company, helping to improve staff retention rates.


5. Review & Feedback

Adaptive onboarding is just that — adaptive. In healthcare, it’s a process that is designed to evolve along with changes in models of care, in hiring, and in the needs and expectations of the emerging workforce. Therefore, an essential part of creating an adaptive onboarding strategy is reviewing the process regularly and adapting when necessary.

Feedback from employees is highly valuable, helping businesses to understand what staff thought was supposed to happen, and what actually did happen. With this data, it’s possible to tailor the approach in line with the identification of new needs.


An Insurance Policy

Insurance policies are discussed constantly in healthcare settings, but rarely in terms of insurance for the money and time invested in recruitment and training. And that’s what adaptive onboarding is: insurance.

Creating an adaptive onboarding process for new healthcare workers is a way to minimize risk and protect the financial and laborious efforts invested in bringing in the right people and nurturing the right talent. Adaptive onboarding considers each person individually, making them feel more valued and like they really are a core resource within the organization. In simple terms, it makes them feel like they’re in the right place.

And while we mentioned earlier that some areas, such as software engineering, can get by with standardized onboarding, we need to understand the difference for healthcare. At a time when the human experience is becoming increasingly important, there’s a need to be open-minded and really consider the benefits of implementing change.


Back to Work Podcast: Women at Work - Healthcare Edition

About the Author: David Kelly is the General Manager for EMEA at Deputy, a software company that provides cloud-based workforce management and scheduling platform to more than 200,000 workplaces globally. David is proud to lead an ambitious and enthusiastic team that supports a rising number of new customers across the EMEA region.

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