You may be looking at recruitment pre-Christmas or in the New Year so with that in mind we look at the induction process for new staff.
December is a busy month for practice managers as new staff are hired and introduced to the practice.
It can be a stressful time for both the hires and for the practice. Particularly for graduates fresh out of university, this is the start of a new chapter and they may be anxious about whether they’ll be up to the challenge. For you and your colleagues, you’re always taking a bit of a leap of faith in hiring a new person – even ones with stellar CVs – and you’ll want to make sure they get up to speed with how you and your team do things.
A lot of these anxieties can be put to rest with a well-designed induction process. The more time you spend thinking about your induction before the new staff member begins, the sooner they will become a fully productive member of the team, and the greater the chances of them staying with the practice for the long-term.
What does a good induction programme look like?
At the most basic level, an induction programme sets out how things work at the practice, and your expectations of the new employee.
Since each practice has different ways of doing things, induction programmes can look very different from one practice to the next. Generally speaking, inductions will usually cover four main areas.
An overview of your practice
- General introductions
Usually, you would schedule some time in the first few weeks for the new employee to meet their colleagues and to find out a bit about what everyone does. If you have a large practice, it might be a good idea to stagger this meet-and-greet phase, so your new person isn’t immediately overloaded with lots of new names and faces.
- Overview of the practice and communication lines
This aspect of the induction can be folded into the meet-and-greets, or you might find it useful to keep these phases separate. The idea, though, is to give your employee a sense of how the practice works on a day-to-day basis; how work comes in and is processed; who your patients/clients are in general terms, and any particular needs they might have that differ from other practices your employee might have worked at previously.
- Premises tour
Where are the toilets, emergency exits, fire extinguishers, emergence medical equipment, and office supplies. This is also a good chance to make sure your employee has all the keys, alarm codes, swipe cards, and login details they’re likely to need.
Employment terms and conditions
This part of your induction covers the basics about your staff members employment: how many hours they’re expected to work; what sort of policies you have towards overtime; your dress standards; any policies you have around timekeeping or calling in sick; and any staff benefits or staff groups they might like to join. It’s also a good time to discuss how you monitor performance and career development opportunities within the practice.
Policies and procedures
You should also set aside a section of your induction to cover important policies and procedures that will apply to your employee. These might be in-house policies covering matters like personal calls or internet usage, or mandated policies such as health and safety, privacy or consumer rights.
It’s also important to be clear about how your disciplinary procedures work, and what sort of behaviour would constitute grounds for warnings or even dismissals. This can be an awkward conversation to have with a new hire but it’s important to be very clear about your expectations from the outset to avoid any confusion further down the track.
This part of the induction covers matters relating to the specific job you’ve hired the employee to do. Do you need to train them how to use a piece of equipment or software? Where will they go if the need help with a particular task? What sort of training might they need in the future, and will you set aside a yearly training budget to help them stay up-to-date with new developments in their area?
How can you tailor your training to your employees’ needs?
You should plan to put all your new employees through some sort of induction programme but that doesn’t mean they all need to go through the same one. Permanent employees might need more comprehensive training than locums; and front-of-house staff will have different needs than clinicians. It’s also worth revisiting your induction programmes every few years to make sure it’s still relevant to your practice, and the changing needs of your staff and your clients.
It’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about the best way to take your staff member through the induction programme. This will depend on the nature of your practice, and the nature of your employee’s work. Some of the induction will need to be covered in the first week, but other parts of it could wait until the employee has been working for a month or so.
You may also find it useful to think about combining the formal induction process with a more informal “buddy” system. This can be a great way to help your new staff member meet people around the practice and to get a feel for how they fit into the overall structure. Choose buddies for your new hire who have a sound working knowledge of the practice; who relate well to others; and can handle the random questions a new hire might have about the practice.
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