IHS Retention Briefs | Volume 3 — Issue 6
July 2016
Photo of Employees

Begin onboarding as soon as the new employee receives an offer letter.

Onboarding: Your Plan for Retention

The IHS Office of Human Resources (OHR) Division of Health Professions Support (DHPS) is pleased to bring you the sixth eNewsletter in our Retention Briefs series for 2016. This issue continues our series focused on onboarding — creating a structured plan that helps a newly hired employee adjust to the social and performance aspects of his or her new role.

Onboarding: Creating a Timeline

Ideally, the clinical director or facility leader should begin the onboarding process prior to a new hire’s first day on the job and ensure timelines are met throughout the first year. Here’s what a typical onboarding timeline might look like:

Prior to the Start Date
Send a welcome letter.
Assign or arrange for a mentor.
Prepare the facility for a new hire.
Organize a first-day lunch with immediate staff.
Communicate all benefits.
The First Day
Send an email of introduction to all facility staff.
Arrange a meeting with an HR representative.
Begin the onboarding orientation program.
Personally introduce the new hire to facility staff.
The First Week
Begin the IHS 101 and cultural competency
Set goals for the first six months.
Review and discuss the first week;
request feedback and set expectations.
The First Six Months
Provide feedback often.
Schedule a formal evaluation during the third month.
Celebrate the employee’s six-month anniversary.

Communication and knowledge sharing is critical to ensuring retention — set up face-to-face check-in meetings at one month, two months, three months and a year to see how the employee is transitioning to your site and community.

Help the new employee become a part of the community by partnering with local leaders. Provide an orientation session within the first week to address policies and procedures and to introduce your new employee to the community with whom he or she will be working. Introduce the employee to local Tribal leaders. Creating a bond between the clinician and his or her facility and the community will increase the chances that he or she will stay in the Indian health system.

Onboarding Tips

Implementing a strategic onboarding plan is worth the investment. With the successful recruitment and onboarding of new employees and the retention of existing employees, the cycle repeats.

  • Begin onboarding as soon as the new employee receives an offer letter.
  • Ensure his or her immediate supervisor participates fully in the program.
  • Set aside the first few days to discuss technology, procedures, scheduling and interaction with staff/team members with whom he or she will closely work.
  • Clearly explain all expectations and facility requirements.
  • Remember, communication is key!
Evaluating Your Onboarding Program
  • How do you make new hires feel welcome?
  • How do you convey that employees matter?
  • Is your orientation program interactive and thought-provoking?
  • Is the material developed from a new employee’s perspective?
  • Have you conducted exit interviews with past employees to determine how you could have better prepared them for their role and, in turn, prevented them
    from leaving?
A survey by BambooHR.com shows 31 percent of employees have quit a job within six months of starting it. A few factors they say would have made a difference include clearer guidelines about responsibilities (23%), more effective training (21%) and friendly smiles or helpful coworkers (17%).
Onboarding Case Studies

Each onboarding experience is as unique as the individual you’ve hired. Here is the third in our series of case studies to portray a variety of onboarding situations. This time, the scenario depicts a negative outcome due to the lack of proper orientation through onboarding.

Photo of employee
Case Study

Environmental Engineer — Large Community Hospital in the Midwest

Casey was initially attracted to a career in Indian health because it was a unique path combining his engineering profession with a chance to give back to a deserving population. He relocated from the Northeast to a Tribal community in the Midwest, but he immediately found himself feeling out of place. As an environmental engineer, he felt isolated from the other employees at the facility, who were mostly health care practitioners. His hiring manager was busy with her own responsibilities and didn’t take the time to introduce Casey to his coworkers or to check in to see if he was able to meet the expectations of his position. Casey had a strong desire to succeed at his new job, but without formal reviews or other communication from his manager about his performance, he always felt unsure whether his performance was matching up with expectations.

Casey started out eager to begin his new job and get to know his new facility and community, but no one was there to help him through the process. He worked overtime most weeks and rarely had time to get out and meet people. After eight months of working at the facility, Casey turned in his notice and moved back to his hometown. He felt as though he had spent the entirety of his time in his new home frustrated and lonely and left without feeling any connection to the facility, community or its people.

The facility CEO had been delighted with Casey’s work and was devastated to receive his resignation. Six months later, the search for a replacement was still ongoing.

The policy of the IHS is to provide absolute preference to qualified Indian applicants and employees who are suitable for federal employment in filling vacancies within the IHS. IHS is an equal opportunity employer.

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