Onboarding – a Key Word to Learn for Your Future Profitability

In planning resources for a pharmacy I often pose the question: “Which of the two resources of staff and patients is the most important, and what must be budgeted for first?”
Seems a bit of a rhetorical question and if you answered “patients” both times you are technically wrong.
If you do not have a strong well-trained and well-informed team properly dollar resourced, you will simply never have a steady growth in patients – and they won’t be quality patients.
So, it’s the “chicken or the egg” scenario and if patients are to be your primary business metric then it is the staff indicators that you need to keep a close watch on.

“Onboarding” has become the new management term to describe all aspects of staff induction and maintenance that also includes keeping individual communications involving policy delivery and understanding, formal training and a system for mentoring.

A good onboarding process will be the prime mover in keeping staff-related costs down to an optimum level, including the costs of staff turnover.
Staff turnover costs are estimated at 30-50 percent of an annual salary for entry-level staff and for mid-level to senior level staff it can cost 150-400 percent of their annual salary.
And these costs are estimated for the operational level only because it is impossible to gauge the opportunity cost.
Good staffs are always associated with low cost and high productivity.

At every departure, morale and productivity suffer.
That’s why it’s vital that all organisations hold on to their people, and they can start by providing a well-designed onboarding process to educate and mentor new staff about their place within the larger culture.

A recent study by analyst firm Aberdeen Group found that 86 percent of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment.
That requires a great first impression!
New hires are expensive.
You want to protect your recruitment investment.
A great onboarding process that lasts more than one day or that begins even before the first day with engagement and information can do that.
 Relying on a one-day HR orientation, a series of unrelated administrative tasks, and a folder of forms doesn’t work.
Especially with the new generation of staff who expect speed and automation.

So the smart pharmacies are embracing or developing systems that engage with their staff prior to hiring, continuously during and after day one of commencing duties, and ongoing to keep staff briefed on management decisions, information sharing and including appraisal information.
Considering that we give up 90,000 hours of our lifetime to work, it’s no surprise many people consider their workmates to be a second family.
Yet, in contrast to how the new member of a family is usually introduced (think: balloons, parties, and a celebratory atmosphere) new staff are often brought on to a job with little warmth.

In preparing for this article I had in the back of my mind as to how poorly the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) has treated registered pharmacists when negotiating awards and conditions.
While some skirmishing is expected in negotiating the opening rounds of discussion, the extent to which the PGA has used its financial muscle to squash reasonable award increases has been astonishingly short-sighted.
Economic conditions have rebounded on PGA members and they now find themselves wondering what to do next with limited support or job availability from the sector, a large proportion having now marched with their feet.

To bridge the gap quickly, particularly in the area of clinical service generation as a revenue stream, income-sharing agreements will have to be engineered to find the appropriate skills and reward them appropriately.

According to a recent workplace survey, 83 percent of professionals to do not feel they were ever formally introduced to their company culture – whether that meant they didn’t receive a welcome kit, feel an emotional connection to colleagues or go through a formal introductory process – you fill in the gaps. 
As a result, those companies are at risk of losing their best staff to competitors with superior onboarding processes.
Every new hire should be provided with pertinent HR documents, acquainted with a company’s ethos on the very first day, if not hour, and even a welcome gift to symbolise the start of a new journey.
One onboarding system developer (called Cultivate) has a gift kit with the principal item being a pot plant, (with a difference).
It is a pot plant with RFID connectivity that has a system embedded to connect to the business HR website as well as the staff person’s mobile phone (through a connecting App which forms part of the induction kit).
This enables management to update their staff electronically and is also an approved method for staff to communicate with their peers and management and receive mentoring on request.

The tailored Cultivate Onboarding Kit allows companies to address the five key components of onboarding (listed below), in a way that is wholesome and mutually beneficial to both parties—and at scale, too.

5 Key Components of Onboarding:

* Welcome

* Inform

* Discover

* Nourish

* Connect

An HR Manager or team lead can assemble personalised elements which are then custom-printed by the Cultivate service, ready to be delivered to new staff upon their inaugural arrival.
In addition to a personalized welcome message, each pot plant comes with plant maintenance instructions, a personal reusable water bottle that will help encourage hydration, and an appropriate information pack.

The system points the way to providing complex patient services by being able to creatively train all support staff at a very economical cost.
To summarise the main benefits, any onboarding system investment will:

Reduce Time-to-Productivity:
The time-to-productivity metric, which is rapidly gaining acceptance as a critical measurement in recruiting and talent management circles, has a few meanings.
Some define it as the time required for new staff to have all of the information, skills, and equipment necessary to perform their jobs at a productive level.

Others say it’s the time required for new hires to achieve the job proficiency of an employee who has been at the organisation for two years.
Proper onboarding gets staff up to speed much more quickly, so that within weeks, it’s hard to tell the difference between new and seasoned hires.

Reduce Stress:
The guesswork required by new staff is enough to cause a significant amount of anxiety.
By telling new hires what they need to know before they need to know it, proper onboarding reduces the negative effect that naturally occurs when entering a new situation and makes it possible for new hires to concentrate on their jobs rather than their angst.

Reduce Staff Turnover:
In many industries, organisations lose as many as 15 percent of staff per year, and we’ve already mentioned why this is very costly.
Strong onboarding programs assure new and existing staff that they are valued and have all the necessary tools to succeed.
They demonstrate in tangible ways that the organization truly cares about its staff, and make it far less likely that they will look elsewhere.

Develop Job Knowledge:
In addition to teaching new hires abut the mission, vision, values, and culture of the organisation, proper onboarding ensures that new staffs fully understand their roles and how they relate to the organisation’s big picture operations.
New staffs learn what’s expected, how to deliver, and how and when they will be evaluated.
Upfront education prevents damaging mistakes down the road.

What’s the Best Reason to “Just Do It”:
In their survey, the Aberdeen Group found that the world’s highest performing organisations have implemented onboarding initiatives that achieve these goals.
As a result of their efforts, 66 percent report better assimilation of new hires into company culture, 62 percent report higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54 percent report higher staff engagement.

These companies do a great job at retaining new hires, getting them to a desired level of performance quickly, and improving manager satisfaction with the process and the hires.
Their onboarding processes also minimise disruption to the rest of the organization and strategically build trust between new and seasoned hires.
Eighty-three percent of best-in-class organisations start onboarding prior to Day 1 by welcoming new hires warmly and tackling administrative matters in advance.

Fifty-two percent have a senior leader actively involved in the process.
For example, a department head might send a personal note to each new hire, or the CEO might do a presentation for a group of new staff.
According to the Aberdeen Group, the top performers also place a majority of the onboarding responsibility on hiring managers and the line of business stakeholders.
These individuals are tasked with assimilation and alignment rather than the mundane tasks that can be handled by HR coordinators (e.g. securing a parking pass for a new hire).

What Does Onboarding ROI Mean for Your Organisation?
Before you start creating metrics, understand what goals you want an onboarding program to achieve.
Then what those goals mean for your organisation.
Is your goal to build a great team with excellent peer relationships, top levels of initiative and creativity?
Do you want to mentor staff to instil a sense of continuity and tradition?
This will be a “must” for clinical service staff.
You want to create goals that cultivate retention.
You may want your onboarding program to support staff in achieving early successes.
What is that worth to your business?
Even if you think you’ve mastered your organisation’s mission, vision, and values, it can’t hurt to revisit them within the context of onboarding.
Many HR leaders will ignore setting some baselines for ROI.
Because this tends to be gathering metrics on soft skills and that can be pretty subjective.
Evaluating the value derived to the company when new staff are brought on and acclimated and then establishing a baseline on time-to-success can be daunting.

So, take your time.
Get the right partners involved and have the necessary conversations.
Not only does this provide business context, but ensures that what you discover will provide some strategic insight and will help educate others about HR’s roles and responsibilities.

What Are the Most Critical Onboarding Metrics?
Aberdeen, the analyst firm, identifies best-in-class organisations as being nearly twice as likely to have specific onboarding metrics.
These companies rank employee engagement, retention, and time to productivity as having the greatest value to both HR and the business.
How you measure them is determined through your own original methods.

Employee engagement can measured in all sorts of ways, but experts recommend the assessment of new hire satisfaction with organization-wide and group specific onboarding initiatives at 30 days, six months, and one year.
At the same time, it’s a good practice to measure the percentage of your hiring managers who are satisfied with the onboarding process and the preparedness of their new hire.

You can create surveys to generate insights from both new hires and their managers.

Why is retention of new hires so important?
Staff who transition through a consistent onboarding program engage more, and with greater intensity.
Likewise, they demonstrate they are less likely to quit.
Unlike new hires who get thrown into a job cold.
If you have experienced the “quick quits” phenomenon – new hires who quit within 90 days or six months – you know the risk to the organisation.

Measure the six month and 12 month retention rates of new hires and compare the results to when you had a manual, paper based orientation and compare to the consistent individualised onboarding process.

Most new hires have already bought into your pharmacy company story and they want to take part.
Onboarding takes these enthusiastic new people and rapidly engages and connects them to the life of the organisation.
That engagement leads to employee commitment.
And their commitment leads to accomplishment.

If you wanted a starting point to reorientate your business model towards the new paradigm you dream of, then onboarding may be the concept worth investing in.
It involves culture and direction, so if you have to deliver those concepts to a new staff hire then it will force you to think about the culture, vision and values that you have developed to this stage of your business journey.

Pharmacists are the experts in pharmacy.
Onboarding is just organising and harnessing your experience and investing in your staff.
It’s a solid formula.

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