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Martha Abercrombie Illuminates Importance of Staff Onboarding Experience in NRRO Webinar

Posted by Stacey Sumereau | Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dave Ramsey wrote, “Turnover happens before the hire! Our goal is to find out if someone is not a good fit before we hire them.” The Avila Institute continued its collaboration with the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) in an August 22 webinar geared toward helping nursing homes retain staff right from the beginning of the hiring process. Martha Abercrombie, the guest speaker, has 18 years of Human Resources experience and now works with a company called Vikus Corporation as their Vice President of Strategy. Vikus is a software company that provides hiring solutions to senior care facilities. She has been immersed in the “why” of the current staff retention crisis for some time and had many valuable insights for the webinar viewers to take home.

Martha unpacked the factors that contribute to a cumulative negative experience for new employees, and what care facilities can do to implement solid practices that will improve their experience. She used the example of gardening- by planting good seeds in the hiring process today that will bloom in the future, as well as cultivating the “good soil” of a positive work environment, employers can look forward to a dedicated, loyal staff in the future, despite the shortage of quality and quantity of job seekers. The first step is to provide an accessible, easy hiring process by posting jobs online that are accessible to mobile devices. The days of only accepting walk-in applicants during business hours are long gone. Thinking of your online applicants as consumers and putting yourself in their place as you write the application will help attract more applicants. A job description and title that is understandable and reflects your organization’s mission will also net a wider pool of applicants.

Adding an assessment to your application process can answer some key questions before the interview takes place. Is the employee teachable? Will he/she be competent? Will he/she be a good fit? Martha encouraged employers to examine the interview process and ensure they are asking the right questions. Considering that 46% of new hires fail at any given organization within 18 months, it may surprise some to learn that 89% of them fail for attitudinal reasons. Therefore, a resume should not be the top criteria when looking for new hires. Rather, selecting candidates with a willing personality and attitude will help decrease turnover. Also, research shows that top candidates will be attracted to organizations because they align with their ideals and allow them to make a difference, rather than situational factors such as proximity of their house to the job location.

After streamlining the hiring process, employers can do many things to provide an onboarding process that will set up new employees for high retention rates. First, Martha recommended starting employee engagement before the first day by providing them with a welcome email, agenda for the first week, benefits information, etc. First impressions do matter, as 86% of new hires decide whether they will stay or go within the first six months of employment. Employers can be ready for a new hire by providing them with a clean, equipped office, new supplies, and a welcome note signed by fellow employees. By buying the new employee lunch and having managers eat with them, and also asking for their input on best practices they would like to see, employers will ensure that new employees feel welcome.

After the first day, employers should carefully examine and work on providing a support network for new employees so that they know to whom to take questions and needs as they continue to learn on the job. Developing a mentorship system between experienced and new employees will increase job satisfaction for all.

Beyond the onboarding process, top hiring candidates are looking for long-term professional development. An annual review will not be enough anymore to retain employees; millennials expect instant feedback and recognition much more often than that. Why not have regular “stay” interviews rather than just exit interviews, where employees have a chance to answer questions such as “if you could change one thing about this department, what would it be?” or, “How did we do in your orientation process? Would you change anything for future hires?” Martha recommended constant assessment, employee recognition, and further development opportunities for all employees to ensure longevity and a healthy organization.

Given the staffing crisis level in nearly all care facilities, examining their hiring and onboarding processes is too important for employers to ignore. Martha challenged the listeners to simply start by implementing one idea or overhauling one aspect of hiring and onboarding. After one aspect has been improved, move on to another and eventually employers will reap the benefits of solid, consistent employee experiences.

The recording of this webinar is available for free. To watch this webinar and other NRRO webinars click here. To access the recording and handouts, register for free here.