Administrative Affairs

Detailing the value of effective employee onboarding

By: Eric Conde, M.S.A., CFAAMA

It’s easy to think of recruitment and retention as two separate but related elements, with new-employee orientation essentially a follow-up to the recruitment function. However, in recent years, the concept of “onboarding” has gained prominence.

Onboarding is not just a new name for employee orientation, although orientation is an important element. Onboarding is broader, encompassing both what the organization provides to the new employee and what that employee brings to the organization. The ultimate goal is to achieve an excellent “fit” for both.

For the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, the aim of onboarding is to have an employee who is:

  • Committed to the mission
  • Fully knowledgeable about the enterprise’s workings
  • Clear about his or her role
  • Comfortable within the enterprise and city/social structure
  • Energized for the job

For the employee, aims are to:

  • Have all information and tools needed to do their best work
  • Gain professional and personal satisfaction
  • Blend seamlessly into the organization

Effective onboarding has a critical role in the continuum of functions that ultimately results in effective and happy employees working in high-performing health care organizations. It’s clear that onboarding affects, and is affected by, both recruitment and retention. So it is really a bridge between these related functions that effectively ties the system together.

Studies indicate that employee engagement is partially influenced by the new employee’s handling of the job during the first 30 to 90 days. A well-chosen new employee who is well-integrated into the organization is motivated to do excellent work, enjoys high job satisfaction — and stays.

From an organizational perspective, we should provide orientations (face-to-face time with enterprise leaders and other core personnel); socialization activities (formal and informal, individual and group); and exposure to department insiders via active mentoring.

Regarding this last item, the “MIT Sloan Management Review” interestingly notes, “What often separates rapid onboarders from their slower counterparts is … the presence of a ‘buddy or mentor,’ someone of whom the newcomer can comfortably ask questions that are either trivial (‘Where should I park?’) or politically sensitive (‘Whose opinion really matters here?’)”

Useful characteristics

The new employee needs to bring useful characteristics (proactiveness, curiosity, openness, agreeableness, etc.) and positive behaviors (active information seeking, positive relationship building and so forth). Effective recruitment will enable the department to hire candidates who already possess these attributes.

As new employees integrate into the organization, researchers point to four indicators that suggest the onboarding program is accomplishing its objectives. These are:

  • Role clarity (an employee’s ability to make impact immediately and over time)
  • Self-efficacy (how capable new employees feel about fulfilling their responsibilities)
  • Social acceptance (the employee feels welcome and supported)
  • Knowledge of organizational culture (employee fully understands the enterprise’s values, norms and environment)

Onboarding checklist

With use of the UF COMJ New Faculty Onboarding Checklist, our goal is to create a standardized and streamlined process of integrating faculty into their new work environment.The Office of Administrative Affairs is also working with the university’s human resource personnel to design targeted onboarding approaches to help position new hires — both faculty and TEAMS staff — for success, including those transitioning to management roles as well as international employees.

Onboarding can be a long-term process that starts before arrival on campus and may extend over months. It helps hiring managers prepare for the arrival of new faculty.

The checklist below is designed to get faculty onboard and to assist with the institution and departmental orientation process. Once the faculty member starts, he or she can work with the hiring manager to complete the checklist. The hiring manager may add additional activities relevant to the new faculty member’s position or area. While one basic list of items to be completed at each step will be consistent, variations in the length of the process, the tactical approaches to integration and the staff involved may change based on the needs of the newly hired faculty.

UF COMJ new faculty orientation is held each fall. This year, it will be Oct. 20 in the LRC Auditorium. The goal is to enhance the effectiveness of faculty by introducing them to the mosaic of leaders, programs and resources to help support their career development, teaching, research and clinical care. The day also includes a session on the UF promotion process. Faculty in attendance will have a chance to meet and interact with college and hospital leaders.