Retaining and attracting new staff has become more challenging with healthcare employees seeking a better work-life balance, a more supportive working environment and greater flexibility. As practices settle down to the new “norm” post-COVID-19, it’s an ideal time to look at your policies around team support and development and work toward attracting and retaining quality staff.
Strong policies that include recruitment, staff development, team meetings, and staff well-being are positive steps toward becoming an employer of choice. The details of the policy will look different for every practice, but the underlying principles remain the same.
For the policy to be effective, it needs to be personalised for your practice, making the development and implementation a two-step process: first covering the basics of what the policy should include, then taking time to add your own brand voice to the policy.
Step 1: Cover the Basics of Your Team Support and Development Policy
The top 5 inclusions in your Team Support and Development Policy are recruitment, induction and onboarding, team meetings, training and professional development and welfare and well-being.
Make sure you know what skills you would like your new staff member to have and that you have clearly outlined these in the advertising of the vacant position and position description. Follow the same questions in the interview for all candidates and look for the person you believe will fit the culture of your practice.
Candidates often research who you are before their interviews; this research extends to social channels like LinkedIn and Instagram. These represent an opportunity to give people a peek behind the curtain and showcase what makes your practice a great place to work. Make the outside world think, “wow, I’d love to work there”.
When you get to the face-to-face or screen-to-screen stage, remember that an interview is no longer just an evaluation of the candidate but also a chance for you to sell them on your practice.
Induction and Onboarding
The first few weeks are the perfect time to introduce new employees to the practice’s values, priorities, culture, and mission.
It’s about creating a positive impression. Chances are, your new employee will know about the company from the outside, but the first days on the job are their first exposure to how it works and feels on the inside.
A proper onboarding process can help new employees establish themselves as part of the practice while showing them how their role contributes to the practice’s wider goals. It’s not just about learning about the practice and its culture but connecting to it and the existing team.
For the employee, it makes them feel part of an inclusive team that wants them to excel. They’ll feel good about the decision to take the job, the work they’re doing, and the practice, which sets everybody up for long-term success.
The last thing you want is a new employee dragging their heels and not contributing because they didn’t get the right direction and support upfront. Done well, your new team member will be more engaged and want to help the practice succeed.
Effective team meetings allow teams to discuss complex issues and talk through ideas and solutions; they enable team members to get on the same page quicker than emails or messages do.
An effective team meeting is essential to issue resolution and brainstorming. It’s easier to make better decisions when you have enough information on key matters that affect your team. Most of the time, your team members will have more visibility and knowledge on these matters. Having a team meeting with them will help you get that information faster and come up with a sound decision that benefits everyone involved.
Effective meetings also promote inclusion and cohesion. It becomes an avenue for staff to freely express their thoughts and ideas. They know they can share their input and will be heard loud and clear.
Culture plays a vital role here. When you have an encouraging and inclusive culture, you create a supportive and productive environment for everyone and nothing beats a team meeting to improve employee engagement and maintain a good working relationship.
Training and Professional Development
It’s important to encourage team members to actively pursue their professional and career development as an integral element of their employment. Continuing professional development contributes to personal job satisfaction, workplace productivity, reward and recognition.
Training can be inspiring and shows an understanding of the importance of employee motivation. It shows an employer is dedicated to helping their employees learn as much as possible about their job and how to do it better. Training outside of roles can be a great motivator. For example, offering first-aid, budget management, or computer training can motivate employees to expand their skills.
Mentoring is also a way to motivate, as it offers guidance when someone is new to a role and can build their confidence.
Welfare and Well-being
Well-being can refer to mental and physical health and more complex factors such as satisfaction and engagement levels. Employee well-being is a critical component of a healthy working environment. Practices promoting well-being make it easier for employees to manage stress levels while maintaining a positive and productive environment.
Employee well-being is influenced by various factors, such as their relationships with co-workers, their decisions, and the tools and resources they have access to. Hours, pay, and workplace safety also significantly impact employee well-being.
While it will vary from person to person, employee well-being should average out to a level that allows for a productive and healthy workplace. Outside factors contribute to employee well-being too. Stress around issues such as housing, health, and family all play a role in performance at work. However, employers can acknowledge they have no control over what takes place after hours while still taking responsibility for what they can do for their employees.
It is the employer’s duty to provide their workers with the necessary support and care for their physical and mental health. Despite this, many practices still don’t have a dedicated well-being policy. A well-being policy can help employees feel valued and supported at work. It can also improve employee engagement and motivate teams.
These inclusions are just the basic building blocks of your Team Support and Development Policy. To really own this policy, it needs to be personalised to make it relevant and unique to your practice. And that’s where adding your own brand voice comes in.
Step 2: Add Your Own Brand Voice to the Policy
The policy document should reflect your principles and values and can be used to communicate what is important to the practice. Most practices will have similar processes (such as recruitment and onboarding), but how you approach these processes should be specific to your practice.
The tone of the Team Support and Development Policy should help practitioners feel like they want to be there. It should be as simple as possible while addressing common pain points for new and existing team members.
Over time, you may have developed a feel for which candidates will be a good fit and which won’t. Part of personalising the recruitment process could be to look at the types of people who have proven to work well in the culture of your practice and see if those traits could be identified in the interview process.
The quicker your new team members get up and running, the better it is for everyone. To help speed up the process, you need to make new hires feel welcome and as though you’re ready and looking forward to having them on the team. To personalise this process:
- Ask if they prefer tea or coffee and how they like it
- Put together a stationary pack so that when they arrive at their desk, it’s already set up and ready for them
- Put their name on a cubby before they arrive, and put a small welcome gift inside
Personalisation here could mean many different things, such as:
- Cupcakes and takeaway coffees on a Friday morning
- Once a month, coffee and croissants at your local coffee shop
- A strict time limit to meetings that respects the team’s other commitments
- A set structure that you follow every meeting so that your team knows what to expect
Training and Professional Development
An exciting way to personalise this process is to involve your team and have them take ownership of mapping out their development goals. It’s also an opportunity to find out how you can best support them as they make those goals a reality.
Welfare and Well-being
To effectively personalise and implement this part of the policy, you may need to set aside time to sit with your team together and individually to find out what welfare and well-being mean to them. This helps employees take ownership of the policy because they understand how it impacts them. It will hopefully make them more comfortable coming forward if there are factors affecting their performance.
These are a few ideas to get the ball rolling, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much space to explore what you want the culture of your practice to look like, and then there are the practical steps of making it happen!
A Team Support and Development Policy provides a framework for employing and onboarding new staff that will fit the culture of your practice, as well as encouraging staff to develop their knowledge and acquire new skills. It should also aim to develop employees to perform their current roles better and grow into future roles.
These are the basics of what your policy should include, but you get to set the tone by taking the policy and personalising it for your practice.
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