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HR industry studies show that a great amount of staff turnover (possibly as high as 20%) can happen in the first 45 days of employment. Replacing those who leave can cost anywhere from $3000 – $18,000, depending on the position and the job market.

But what about those workers who do stick around, yet remain disengaged? (Gallup research has shown that 70% of US employees are not engaged in the workplace.) There are costs associated with them as well.

These “zombie” employees call out more, provide poor customer services, and are less productive, all of which negatively impacts your bottom line, occupancy, and the overall job satisfaction in your community.

What can you do to combat these unhappy employees? Reviewing and improving your employee onboarding process is a great place to start.

Remember, the onboarding process is an opportunity to make a great impression, demonstrate your culture, and set expectations, all of which can help engage new employees.

This means going beyond sending a new hire into a room to fill out countless forms, read endless binders, and watch dozens of videos for hours on end. That’s a perfect recipe for zombie creation.

Here’s how to rock your employee onboarding.
1. Rock the Regulatory Stuff. There are rules. There are forms to fill out. And there is, of course, required training. Although there is no getting around these compliance issues, there are ways to make them less boring.

Pre-Board. How much of the administrative and regulatory tasks can you have new people complete before the first day? Many applicant-tracking systems provide new hires with a user interface that they can access to fill out new-hire paperwork. Are there online trainings they can review before they start as well? Try to have the new hire get as much of the zombie-inducing work completed before the first day.
Make it Fun. No getting around the agenda of your general orientation and regulatory requirements. But you can make it fun. Traditional employee onboarding with videos, lectures, and reading can be dull. Try incorporating games, a scavenger hunt, and team building activities. For example, you have to go through the employee handbook, so why not make it a scavenger hunt? Give each employee a handbook and list of questions. See who can answer the most questions in an allotted amount of time.
2. Rock the Welcome. You’ve invested a lot of time and money to hire a great candidate. Be excited! Get your new employee engaged right away.

Get Your New Hire off on the Right Foot. What if a new hire received a welcome package prior to his or her first day? And that new hire packet included their nametag, uniform, business cards, and a welcome gift? Then what if the employee was welcomed with a celebration their first day, including balloons and a welcome sign? And greeted by their team members with a big “Glad You Are Here”? Showing genuine enthusiasm for the new person can help make him or her excited to be joining such an awesome team.
Help New Hires Get the Lay of the Land. Make sure to provide information on dress code, parking, and who to ask for when they arrive prior to their first day. On Day 1, give them a tour, highlighting bathrooms, break room, offices, etc.
3. Rock the Connection. It’s important for new hires to develop interpersonal relationships and have an understanding of the people to contact with specific questions. For example, provide the new employee with the name of the person in charge of payroll in case there are any questions regarding paychecks.

Be Present. Managers and community leadership need to be present and available when a new hire starts. Show them what a valuable asset they are to the community by making it a priority to welcome them. When you are with new hires, give them your undivided attention. Don’t allow emails, phone calls, or other employees to distract you.
Introduce a “Buddy.” Providing a new hire with a “buddy” or mentor can help the new hire develop social connections and make it easier to navigate their job responsibilities.
4. Rock the Communication. Good communication is critical, but it’s especially important when introducing your new employee to the workplace.

Set Expectations. Talk to them about role expectations, clarify job responsibilities, and let them know what successful employment in your community looks like.
Check In. Good onboarding doesn’t stop after the first day. Be sure to follow up with your new employee to ask how things are going throughout their first 90 days.
5. Rock the Culture. Along with a great welcome message, you need to emphasize company culture. Make your vision, values, and mission come alive. Have staff and residents share stories that articulate your culture. Demonstrate that it is part of everything you do.

Explain the “Why.” A good introduction to company culture starts with a focus on the “why” and not the “how.” Why was the company founded? Why is your community a great place to work? Why is the work that the new hire does so important to the success of the community?
Many communities get on the gerbil wheel of employee management: hiring, firing performance reviews, disciplinary action, termination. In order to run a successful senior care community, you need to find a way to recruit the best associates, engage them so that they are providing the best care for your residents, and retain them for the long term.

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