5 things HR can learn from a hospital regarding onboarding
After the events of the last few weeks I had an opportunity to reflect on the process of onboarding new employees. Having gone through a similar process at our local hospital recently I was shocked at how smooth the process went from collection of/sharing information, speed, completeness, etc and started thinking how HR can learn something from this process.
Lesson 1: Collect Once, Use Often – At the hospital they don’t have you complete a form for your master data – they type it in while sitting down with you. Additionally they don’t ask for your name on each and every form needing a signature, they either print the form as its needed with data from your master data record or have pre-printed labels ready to go to stick on the forms once they’re ready to be used. In a hospital this is used for wristbands, privacy waivers, insurance forms, liability notices, etc. All too often HR uses generic photocopied forms for collection of information, resulting in tremendous inefficiencies and a frustrating experience for a newly hired employee who has to write their name 20 times on similar forms, but more importantly it demonstrates that you did a less than stellar job of collecting information from them during the recruitment process that would speed up the onboarding process. My motto with respect to data is “collect once, use often”.
Lesson 2: Enterprise Forms - Many organizations suffer from “forms syndrome”, meaning that they use too many department specific forms. During onboarding there’s typically a facilities form for a badge, a finance department form for a corporate card, etc. Each form asks for similar information, may use outdated references (facilities may provide office space based on outdated job titles or something), and simply confuse people. While coming into a hospital, since they follow lesson 1 above, they can collect the necessary data to support all department’s needs without having to utilize departmental forms. Even better yet, just eliminate forms completely.
Lesson 3: Accuracy Counts -While not everyone completely understands how what goes into a patient master data record impacts operations of a hospital, everyone understands the need to be complete, timely, and accurate. Incorrect information such as incorrectly listing allergies of a patient can have dire consequences. As a result, everyone at a hospital is very well trained on the importance of the work that they do and no role is an unimportant role. My experiences with a number of HR departments is that the same level of appreciation for timely and accurate data entry isn’t near the same level of that of a hospital. Having correct information earlier in the process makes everyone more effective.
Lesson 4: Make sure everyone knows their role in the process – When coming to a hospital some staff are responsible for providing care (Doctor/Nurse), some are responsible for providing information (educators), some are responsible for collecting information (intake staff / triage nurse), and some simply support everything behind the scenes (lab techs, housekeeping, foodservice). Just as my local hospital wouldn’t have a doctor serve lunch to a patient or have a lab technician staffing the emergency room triage desk, you shouldn’t have your IT orientation performed by a finance manager. Having the correct staff available to help train new employees not only sends the right message to new workers, but also speeds time to full productivity – which drives key business outcomes.
Lesson 5: Prepare everything before people arrive – If you are admitted to a hospital, generally they know exactly what room you will be occupying, which doctor and supporting staff is assigned, etc. Additionally the bed is always made, room is clean, and the drawers are fully stocked with the necessary equipment to get the job done. In short it helps a patient feel as if the hospital was ready and waiting for them and if needed, anything necessary is within reach at a moments notice. In the HR world, nothing sends a stronger message to a newly hired employee than an organization that is well prepared for their arrival. Office set-up, laptop configured and waiting, network and email passwords ready to go, already added to the phone directory, and a mentor assigned.
It sounds easy and logical, but few organizations do this very well. IT needs an employee ID number before a network ID is created, HR won’t “hire” the employee in the HRIS until their first day, etc. The end result is tightly controlled processes which have been designed to satisfy an auditor’s desires with no regard for the actual business impact of such processes. Which is more costly – assigning a laptop to someone without an employee ID #, or a $200k exec leaving after 2 days because he/she felt that the organization didn’t have their collective act together?
In conclusion: Its not that HR sets out to do things wrong, but simply HR is in many cases forced to work around challenges presented from throughout the organization. From IT security requirements, space planning issues, lack of planning with respect to equipment needs of new staff, many issues are outside of HR’s control – yet HR is the most visible piece in the onboarding puzzle. In my experience, adopting an onboarding team consisting of stakeholders from across the organization is one of the most effective ways to help make the dreaded onboarding process more impactful and drive positive outcomes.
Take notes from your next hospital visit – you can learn a lot.