Onboarding with a Purpose

By Kendra Hunter, President

The adage “you only have one chance to make a first impression” is a concept that is often missed when onboarding new hires and is typically overlooked completely when onboarding temporary workers.  The battle for highly qualified clinical talent has historically been a struggle for healthcare staffing agencies, the supply simply outweighs the demand.  In wake of the pandemic, the competitive landscape is more dire than ever.  Once you have successfully identified a new temporary candidate, does your onboarding strategy engage the new hire and set you apart from the competition?

Recent surveys report that temporary clinical workers must go through an average of 54 activities during the onboarding process.  That’s an average of 54 touches before they work their first shift and 54 opportunities to make or break the new employee experience. 

It goes without saying, the opportunity to make a good impression with new hires is as important as the first impression your organization makes with new customers.  You are building your brand!  It is imperative that every member of your team focuses on the creating the best candidate experience possible and is committed to positioning your company as the employer of choice. 

So, what can you do to ensure you have an incredible new hire on-boarding experience?


1. Have a plan and move fast.

Industry data shows that if an onboarding process takes longer than a week, you will lose the candidate to the competition.  Remember the industry average of 54 touches for each new hire in the onboarding process?    Outpace your competition with a solid onboarding plan that allows you to efficiently guide each new hire through the entire process, meeting all required regulatory guidelines and build confidence and trust along the way.    

  • Create a well-defined step by step onboarding process for your staffing team to follow for each type of temporary employee you hire. Per diem workers are different than travel and direct placement hires, and your onboarding guides should reflect that.  Define and document requirements for each type of hire so your team is set up for success and the candidates have a streamlined experience.
  • Track, measure, and report on your teams onboarding activities. Set goals for target onboarding timelines and celebrate success when your staffing team meets or exceeds the goal.
  • Identify where you are losing candidates in the onboarding process and create strategies for closing the gaps.  


2. Communicate early and often.

Many agencies have different team members responsible for identifying and engaging talent, creating the need for a hand-off to a new team member for the completion of onboarding  This is a make or break moment in the new hire experience and unfortunately a point in the process where many companies lose engagement.  Transparency and visibility into the process is key to setting expectations.

  • Make the introduction! Let the new hire know you are transitioning the relationship to another team member.  A random email out of the blue from another member of the company creates confusion and diminished trust in the process.
  • Establish clear expectations at each step in the process. Give the new hire a heads up on what will be expected during onboarding, so they have time to prepare documents and are not scrambling at the last minute to provide the credentials required by your agency.
  • Ask them how they prefer to communicate. We have three generations of workers who make up the current clinical workforce.  Don’t assume they all want to communicate the same way.  Ask, and accommodate to meet them where they are most comfortable as a primary means of communication.  This will differentiate you from your competitors when no one else is asking!


3. Automate, Automate, Automate

  • Incorporate online paperwork process for paperless hiring with an easy to follow checklist of requirements for each employee type.
  • Initiate a welcome message that contains bulleted details outlining onboarding requirements.
  • Differentiate and get creative with a welcome video to standardize communication from your staffing team to new hires and capture engagement with the employee.
  • GO MOBILE! The more the new employee can do on their mobile phone or mobile device the quicker you will complete the onboarding process and put them to work.


4. Ask for feedback. 

Yes…the good, the bad and the ugly!  Engage with a survey partner to create an automated survey that allows each new employee to rate their experience onboarding with your company each step of the way.  With just a few questions, you can gather valuable feedback to celebrate excellence, identify gaps that need attention and potentially identify (or even diffuse) a negative review before it hits social media.  Ask for the feedback and actively engage in feedback responses.  This level of investment will show you care about your employees and continue the differentiation between your agency and the competition.

Employee engagement is imperative to a good new hire experience and that first interaction with your temporary candidates drives retention.  Temporary employees aren’t going to be with your organization forever, however, you can create engagement and loyalty by onboarding in deliberate and purposeful way that demonstrates your culture and operational core values.  Make each new hire a “Fan” of your company with a well-defined and consistent onboarding process.   A new employee that feels valued will refer their friends and come back to work with your organization time and time again.