Let’s Talk About The Looming Crisis: Care Aide Retention and Recruitment: Part 3 of 7

CONTINUED from Part 2,

Now we will talk about OnBoarding  that new hire you snapped up during the bait and hook process of recruiting and incentivizing the closing step in hiring.

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I am delighted you are still availing yourself of the wisdom imparted herein. Remember, I told you from the  beginning that this is going to be a long article (and we have a way yet to go) but it’s not so bad to read through, no?

Did you know that the classic set of directions, ‘1.Wash. 2. Rinse 3.Repeat’, the timeless guidelines for shampooing hair, is in the advertising hall of fame?  Well, it is.  Do you know why it is?  It is enshrined for the ages because it is so shamelessly simple, clear, and precise.

This perfect example above is going to be our template for addressing onboarding elements.  How to create an onboarding plan that will result in an environment in which they (and you) can thrive? It can be done.  It just takes 3 simple steps:

  1. Plan
  2. Execute
  3. Repeat

Sometimes referred to as organizational socialization, the process of onboarding includes a variety of elements that help to result in positive hiring outcomes. Onboarding is a set of actions taken by an employer in order to help a newly hired employee adjust to his or her role, coworkers and an organization’s work environment and culture.

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New employees need instruction and assistance when it comes to learning what is expected of them in their new roles, but their training shouldn’t stop there. It pays to help integrate employees into the existing social and cultural structure of an organization.  When a new care professional is able to quickly learn the attitudes, behaviors and culture relevant to organization, he or she will make a smooth transition into their new role and more quickly begin to contribute to the mission.

Making your new hires feel prepared for their roles and welcomed into the culture can affect productivity and longevity, allowing the employees to greatly contribute to the communities with whom they are serving.

Oftentimes onboarding is a formal process, including an orientation program and welcome materials. While formal onboarding is important, the informal aspects of your employee’s first day on a new job should be given an equal amount of attention. Is someone there to greet the employee when he or she arrives? Is the health care professional immediately set up with the materials needed to perform his or her job? Is the employee shown around the site or community by a supervisor? Who will address new hire concerns?

The first day with a new employee is like a first date — the time during which all first and lasting impressions are made. Because research indicates that many employees decide whether they will stay with an organization during the first two weeks of employment, the first impressions are absolutely critical in retaining an employee.


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The Benefits of Onboarding

  • Helps employees more quickly feel connected to the organization and its’ mission
  • Can reduce new employee adjustment time by two months
  • Creates a feeling of employee investment in the organization
  • Reduces employee turnover by up to 25 percent
  • Strengthens teamwork connectivity between coworkers for increased productivity
  • Saves communication time between the supervisor and employee

Your plan to integrate the new employee into your agency or facility community should begin immediately following his or her acceptance of the job offer. Onboarding begins when new employees are hired but doesn’t end with the completion of their first day on the job.

In order to successfully integrate new employees into the organization and culture, the onboarding process should last at least six months.

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When actions and communications between new employees and an organization are carefully planned during this period, employees are more likely to build strong relationships with coworkers and the community, produce powerful work and otherwise contribute to organizational culture.

The supervisor, human resources department and benefits and payroll department are each an integral part of making a new employee onboarding program a success. Providing a successful onboarding program can help your employees turn their new jobs into long-term  home and health careers within your organization.

Make Time for the New Hire to Meet the CEO

CEOs and recruiters work together to turn candidates into new hires — and new hires into valued team members.  So, schedule half-hour or one-hour meetings with visiting candidates and new hires.  Listen to their concerns and answer questions about the job and the facility. Inquire about the factors or influences that attracted them to a career in personal care. Share your own story about how you came to the organization. Inquire about their outside interests and hobbies and what attracted them to your community.


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Does a well thought out onboarding plan incorporate orientation?

Yes, of course it does.

Cardinal Rule:


Allow me a moment to clarify what the differences are between these three often misused or carelessly interchanged terms.  Orientation is a glorified welcome meeting and review of company policies and a facilities tour.  Educations purpose is to provide information about how to think through ones responsibilities for good decision making on the fly and creative problem solving for independent or group action.  Training concerns instructions about how to do the hands elements of job based upon one’s previous or concurrent education. All three are important and necessary for quality staff development and retention, quality client care, and result in quality business administration and management success in the LTCSS environment.

How to Make the Most of the Orientation

A thorough orientation ensures new hires feel comfortable from the start. Use the orientation period solely for initiation/onboarding activities. Provide a glimpse into the activities of every department. Begin with the basics. Ensure the new hire understands and completes all compensation and benefit information accurately.

  • Start the first day. While a new job can be exciting for someone new to your team, it can also bring an overwhelming sense of stress while trying to remember names, learn new processes and find his or her way around the facility.
  • You can help to alleviate these concerns by putting the new hire at ease, assuring him or her that an organization chart is available to use as a “who’s who” resource and to map out each team within each department. Also, let the new hire know that you have an open-door policy should he or she have any questions or concerns. In doing so,
    you will immediately establish a sense of value and an
    understanding that your support is always available.
  • Also, take the first day to confirm the new hire’s schedule, daily responsibilities and, if applicable, any previously agreed-upon telecommuting arrangement and then share that information with the HR department representative who’s responsible for going over the new hire’s employee orientation.
  • It’s important to let the employee know that he or she should allow for a few hours that first day to go over all of the necessary documentation and employment benefits with HR. Have on hand the official letter from HR entailing the position, responsibilities, salary and specific hiring terms. Make sure the HR person has all the necessary paperwork ready for the new hire’s arrival.

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Who is responsible for leading orientation sessions at your office?  That depends on how small or large / simple or complex your company is.  The CEO/Clinical Director/Supervisor/HR Representative (use your good judgment and assign whichever of these leaders makes the most sense for your business model) is responsible to:

  1. Be available to personally greet the new employee as he or she arrives
  2. Schedule meetings, conferences and phone calls for later in the day which might be necessary to complete the intake and orientation process for the new hire.
  3. At a reasonable rate of speed (please, do not rush), lead the new employee through a tour of the facility and orient the newbie to specific locations, such as: Lunch/break room, bathrooms, locker rooms, emergency exits, administration offices, computer / training / clinic rooms (and access protocols), conference rooms, office / field equipment and supplies (and access protocols), and parking. This tour should end with an introduction of the new employee to the HR representative, if this has not already happened, who is responsible for going over all paperwork, benefits, giving the newbie a copy of the Employee Handbook, etc.
  4. Introduce the new employee to all staff and the chosen mentor with whom he or she will work alongside. Identify staff with similar jobs to function as the new employees’ ‘first go to’ for work-related processes and procedures. Otherwise, they will probably seek you out since you will be the most familiar person.
  5. Orient the new hire to all technology and your IT Department personnel (in my world this tech wizard if usually known as ‘The Guy’ even if it is a gal, (but yours might insist upon their government name). Make sure ‘The Guy’ has all the necessary technology and telecommunications equipment set up prior to newbies arrival.

Phone/intercom systems

Computer system

Information technology/security

Time-management software

Meeting schedules

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  1. Introduce the new employee to the executive staff: CEO (if other than the supervisor), CMO, CFO, etc., to acquaint him or her with management and to serve as a welcome to the entire facility team.
  2. Have a welcome bag of necessary field supplies ready prior to arrival. This is a very nice touch.
  3. Have the appropriate administrator add the newbie to the organizational contact and routing lists immediately after HR completes the paperwork that seals the deal.
  4. Have a schedule of the first week of activities and assignments prepared, and include the names, titles and key contact information.
  5. Make plans to have someone who is at ease with strangers have lunch with the new hire on the first day or if budget and company culture support it, arrange a welcome lunch event for everyone to attend, to really impress the newbie and give everybody a chance to welcome them into the organizational fold.


Orientation sessions aren’t just important to new employees.  They’re also essential to the larger group because they address the organization’s policies and procedures, new-hire concerns and help new staff members form accurate expectations about the job they’ve just taken on.

Let’s go into greater detail here and break down the smaller steps that make for a meaningful orientation session.  Performing the tasks below will ensure that your new employees are fully ‘on board’ right from the beginning.

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During the orientation meeting review, explain and discuss:

  1. Your organizations mission
  2. Your expectations concerning employee ethical behavior
  3. Communication protocols for your organization
  4. Customer service quality standards that must be maintained

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  • Identify training and development activities needed within the first six months and sign up the new employee for appropriate classes.
  • Set performance expectations and discuss how and when the employee will be evaluated.
  • Review and discuss the employee’s first week, answer his or her questions and solicit his or her feedback.
  • Introduce the new hire to the community liaison chosen to help with his or her immersion to the community.
  • Ensure the new hire understands the racial / ethnic / religious traditions and cultural values and observances of clients to whom they might be assigned but with whom they might lack familiarity. Watch carefully for any negative reactions to their assignments.  If you detect apprehension discuss how severe it is and make a reassignment, if possible.  Otherwise, reiterate your organizations policies regarding communication and customer service standards and make it clear that diverting from those standards will not be tolerated.

BIG TIP:  Consider Day 1 through Month 6 as your full orientation period.  Doing so will help set the tone for the long term relationship between your staffer, the client(s) and your entity and will give the newbie and their mentor time to bond.  Yes, mentoring tips are coming up later…

Thoughtful Onboarding Protocols for the Long Term


Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you will be criticized anyway.  Eleanor Roosevelt

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  • Focus on retaining good employees before they’re hired
  • Bring in qualified people who are a very reasonable but not necessarily perfect, fit with the organization and staff
  • Discuss –at length– the company culture, values, and the in-house work system
  • Avoid applicants who show any lack of strong interest in a long-term commitment to your organization. Do not be a sucker for opportunists who take but do not give.
  • Avoid applicants who show any lack of strong interest in the applicable job and its career growth path. People and circumstances change over time; try to hire people who are open to progress and growth.  They are the ones who will increase in value to your organization over time.
  • Avoid applicants who evidence a lack of responsibility or self-starter preparation for their own education and certifications important to your business. Why should you pay for a new hires credentials without a long term commitment from them to work for you?


Keep reading

Let’s Talk About (beware of imitators) is a CertifiedCare.org sponsored series of full length articles about cutting edge topics and trends impacting the Long Term Care industry service providers and the people that industry is meant to serve.  The articles are authored by Rev. Dr. Cathleen V. Carr JD MA MscD,  a down to earth ordained minister, a dozen times over experienced caregiver, Executive Director of CertifiedCare.org, and author of the CertifiedCare multiple award winning Family Caregiver, Professional Personal Care Aide, Alzheimer’s-Dementia, Special Needs, and Senior Care Auditor education and certification programs, and “Grand Poobah” of the CertifiedCare Professional Care Aide Membership organization.

To continue on to Part 4 where you will read more about Recruitment Strategies and Solutions, and how to make these valuable people want to stay with you for the long haul, click here       Professional Care Aides certified by CertifiedCare are in demand!

Get started today to get prepared to be in our registry of CertifiedCare Certified Caregivers http://certifiedcare.org 


About Elder Care Advice blog

Get professional elder care giving advice, advocacy, education and tips for those who care for and about the frail elderly at the ElderCareAdvice blog. We are generously sponsored by CertifiedCare.org. Most posts are written by Cathleen V. Carr, unless attributed otherwise. We welcome relevant submissions. Submit your article and by-line for publishing consideration (no promises!) to Havi at zvardit@yahoo.com, our own editor who will ensure submissions are given the best possible treatment and polish before publication, ensuring a professional level of publication. There is a nominal service fee involved ($45). Allow up to 30 days for publishing.
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