A solid onboarding process can help ensure that your employee feels confident in their new role. As a dentist in charge of your own practice, it's ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your dental assistant is set up for success.
Below are a few tips that can help.
1. Prepare Your Team
A well-prepared team sets a good example and helps your new employee to start off on the right foot. Alert employees in your practice to your new team member's start date.
Then, assign various parts of the onboarding process to different people, if possible, so that no one team member is overburdened. Outside of direct training, onboarding tasks may include creating a work email address, social media announcements about the new hire, preparing forms and setting aside a locker or personal space (if applicable).
2. Follow a Checklist
Prepare a list that covers all of your onboarding tasks. Although tasks will vary from one dental practice to another, below is an example of what you might include:
Fill out Employment Papers and Emergency Contact Information
Have the new employee fill out tax forms first thing to avoid payroll delays. Include an emergency contact information sheet in that paperwork packet, if you keep records of this information.
Make Introductions, Give a tour
Take extra time showing your new employee the parts of the office that concern them the most. Familiarity will help them to be more comfortable and confident once they're working with patients.
Discuss Timesheets & Pay Schedule
Know when your employee's first payday will be, discuss the frequency of paychecks, offer them direct deposit forms (if applicable) and review any clock in/clock out procedures that your employees are expected to follow.
Provide Information about Insurance and Benefits
In your new employee packet, include information about vacation days, sick days and benefit paperwork.
Encourage the Team to Welcome the New Hire
Make your new dental assistant feel more welcome by asking your entire team to find your new employee on their first day and introduce themselves.
Train in Their Work Environment
Familiarize your new employee with the various pieces of equipment found in your dental office, especially in the clinical areas where they'll work most.
During onboarding, give a copy of this checklist to your employee. This provides your new employee with a chance to ask questions, know what to expect and alert you if anything is skipped.
3. Set Expectations
Set employee expectations by providing them with the training and information they need to be successful in your dental practice. An employee manual is an excellent resource to address questions your employee may have.
Include information about safety, how to use the equipment in your office, holidays, how your office handles disciplinary actions, and so on.
You can either print a new employee manual for each employee or keep an electronic employee manual in one centralized digital location. Show your new assistant where the manual is and give them time to read it on the first day, then provide the opportunity to ask questions.
Because employee manuals may help to reduce your risk of employment-related litigation, your dental practice insurance provider may be a helpful resource for templates to get you started.
Reading the manual can be the first step in your new employee's formal training process. If you're not overseeing the training process yourself, make sure someone else in your office is prepared to give a thorough introduction on the use of equipment, best practices when interacting with patients and your expectations for your staff members in all aspects of their employment.
You may also want to consult with a human resources or business law professional for additional advice about onboarding materials.
4. Give Them a Mentor
Beyond training, connecting a senior employee in the office with a new hire may be an excellent way to introduce them to the culture of your practice. You won't likely use your manual or training to talk about shaded parking spots, good local lunch spots or what's available to anyone in the staff kitchen.
Mentors are a great way to communicate that information while giving your dental assistant someone to turn to with questions they might not want to bother you with.
5. Establish a Probationary Period
Establish a probationary period to gauge how well your new dental assistant meets expectations. Tell your employee when their probationary period will be over and what they can do to meet your expectations for the role once they’re past the initial training period.
Have regular check-ins to ensure they're on track and adjusting. At the end of the probationary period, conduct a performance evaluation.
A thoughtful, successful onboarding routine with clear expectations is an important part of running a functional office. Once your onboarding process is firmly established, explain it to your staff and ask for their input.
The better your staff (and your new hire) understands the process and your expectations, the better your practice will function and adjust when a new hire joins the group.
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