Starting at a new veterinary practice can be a challenge. As a new employee, there are so many questions and unknowns. These can add extra stress to the process of starting a new job. Great leaders do whatever they can to minimize these anxiety provoking experiences. They know that doing this helps the new employee focus on building relationships with their new coworkers and gain the competence and confidence to do the job more quickly and efficiently. When you alleviate common concerns, your employee will likely retain more of the training and experience-based learning. And this retention will improve their performance and engagement in your veterinary practice.
Start with these simple, practical, and fun ideas:
- Give your new employee a schedule and onboarding packet BEFORE for their first week at your veterinary practice. At the very least, have their first day scheduled out and include details in the packet such as dress code, what time to show up, who to ask for, what to expect, when and where lunch will be, what time they will be released, and what to bring. Put yourself in their shoes; include all the things you would love to know as you get ready for that first day.
- Have the direct supervisor call the new employee a few days before their scheduled start date. There are several reasons for this call. First, it lets them know you are excited for them to start. The supervisor can answer any final questions and confirm details from the onboarding packet. Finally, the supervisor should share contact information in case the employee needs to reach out before their first day.
- Have their workstation set up in a welcoming manner. You don’t want their desk so perfectly put together where they no longer feel comfortable making it their own space. But an empty desk with no supplies sends the wrong message. A card signed by the whole team, a personalized welcome sign hung on the wall, or a coffee mug filled with candy all show the new hire that they are valued from day one and that the team has planned for their arrival.
- Introduce them to everyone in the veterinary practice and give them a full tour of the entire hospital. As you go through the tour, begin to explain the unwritten rules of the practice. Remember, you have likely worked here for a long time. But for them, it’s new, uncomfortable, and they are nervous. Your new hire will hopefully have years to learn, grow, and develop in their role. They will do this faster and more effectively if they are less worried about interpersonal issues or practice quirks.
- Take your employee to lunch on their first day. Pay for the meal and get to know your new hire. If you aren’t available, designate a coworker to take them to lunch or cater lunch in for the team.
- Keep in mind, the tone you set during the first week will become the norm. For example, if they are expected to work until 6:00 p.m., don’t send them home early during their first few days because you need time to get things done. Instead, schedule your new employee to shadow others. Involve the whole team in making the first week a realistic, yet comfortable experience.
These are simple, easy ways to make the first week on the job more memorable, fun, and comfortable. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Start your new employee off with a great first week. That way, you set the tone for how they show up to perform everyday moving forward. Engagement drives productivity, culture, morale, retention, and the bottom line. New employees tend to show up excited and engaged on their first day. It is up to the veterinary practice, leaders, and the team to ensure the employee is still engaged on day 100.