Tips for onboarding new employees

In smaller dental practices, onboarding is far from ideal. Onboarding is important to business success. Discover more here.
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There are many things to take into consideration when hiring a new employee. From past experience and employer testimonials, to specialist skills and eagerness to learn, it’s likely you already know what to look for when recruiting a new RDH or RDA.

But what about when you find the perfect dental practice employee? How do you ensure they fit in with your practice’s team and culture? 

The importance of onboarding

Whether you’re hiring a permanent employee or a temporary one, it’s likely you want them to get to work straight away to help you with your patient appointments. But unless you introduce your new employee to the rest of the team and show them how your practice works, it’s unlikely your arrangement will be a fruitful one.

Onboarding an employee ensures everyone is on the same page. The employee knows what’s expected of them and in return, they get the opportunity to define what they require from you. Taking the time to set a clear foundation paves the way for a healthy professional relationship that benefits everyone.

How to onboard a new employee

Each time you add a new member to your team, follow the below steps to make their integration seamless. Consider tailoring the steps to suit your team and practice.

1. Prepare your team

Start by letting your team know that there will be a new member of staff joining them. Having a well-prepared team ready to greet your new employee will ensure everything gets off on the right foot. Tell your team a little bit about the new worker, why you chose them and what you hope they can bring to your practice.

Letting your team know about the new hire in advance also gives them a chance to ask any questions and get rid of any tension before it becomes a problem.

You can also consider delegating different onboarding tasks to different members of staff. This way, the new hire will get to spend some time with everyone on the team, creating better connections.

2. Go over the paperwork

One of the most important aspects of onboarding is to review important documents together, such as the contract, job description and workplace policies. Ensure the new recruit fully understands the meaning of the documents, and further confirm that by having them sign a copy of each.

While it might be tempting to skip this time-consuming step, you do so at your own risk. You, or a member of your team, spent a lot of time creating these documents and having your new employee sign them as a form of acknowledgement could help clarify things if you run into any legal problems in the future.

3. Set expectations

The next step which can be done at the same time as reviewing paperwork is to set clear expectations. Let your new staff member know what you expect from them, such as how many patients you want them to treat, the quality level they should provide, the way they should talk to patients, etc.

After setting your expectations, give your new team member the opportunity to let you know what they expect from you. This allows both parties to get everything out on the table and focus on getting the job done.

4. Introduce them to the team

If you decided against having all members of your team take part in the onboarding process, it’s important you introduce the new employee to everyone. Instead of doing a general introduction with everyone at once, take the time to introduce them to each member of staff individually.

Give each employee the opportunity to explain a little bit about themselves and how they contribute to the team. It’s never easy starting a new job where you’re the outsider, so this small action will go a long way to making the new hire feel like they’re part of the team.

5. Give them a tour

Not only does your new member of staff need to know the rest of the team, but they also need to be familiar with your practice. Give them a tour of every inch of your practice, from the waiting zone and the treatment rooms to the storage area and the staff section.

Make sure you go over each piece of equipment they’ll be required to use on the job. You hired your new employee so they’d boost your productivity. You don’t want them to slow down your operation by not knowing where things are or how things work.

6. Give them a mentor

Another great way to increase your new employee’s efficiency and ensure they fit in with your workplace culture is to allocate them a mentor. There are some questions a new hire might feel are somewhat important, but too trivial to bother you with. A mentor is the perfect person to answer these questions.

They can also provide the new hire with supplementary helpful information, such as nearby parking spots and good places to grab lunch.

7. Warn them of any difficult patients

Every dental practice has the occasional difficult patient. If you know you’ve got an appointment with a child who hates visiting the dentist or an adult who always argues every time they receive treatment, let your new employee know.

Having a negative patient experience on their first day could greatly impact how they feel about their professional abilities. If you know the patient is going to be troublesome regardless of who is treating them, it’s only right you let your new staff member know.

This way, they’ll be prepared to make the extra effort with the patient and they won’t feel too disheartened when the patient behaves exactly as you anticipated.

Don’t avoid onboarding

Taking the time to properly onboard new employees can be the difference between a powerful, productive dental team that makes you money and a clunky, uncoordinated dental team which runs your business into the ground. After your first couple of onboardings, the process will become second nature to you and you’ll be able to do it with minimal time and effort.

Written By Nicola Quinn