Ask Fuel First: The Great Integration, Part 1
Many of Fuel Medical’s members are facing retention issues because employees nowadays just aren’t staying as long as they used to. Ask Fuel First answers a timely question to help members during this time of flux: In the wake of the Great Resignation, how do you successfully integrate new employees into your organization to build a cohesive team that your patients will rave about?
With so much emphasis on The Great Resignation and focus on employee retention, we are struggling to find time to pay attention to the inverse of that equation—namely, that for every employee who has transitioned out of an organization, someone’s had to be transitioned in. And it appears this isn’t just a phase.
As the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) reported in February 2022: “The impacts of the tight labor market are still being felt intensely by group practice leaders, as most (41%) said staff turnover rates worsened in the past quarter, compared to 33% who noted it stayed about the same as previous quarters and 26% who said turnover slowed recently.”
In truth, transitions occur all the time and take many forms. Employees—Millennials and Gen Zers in particular—change jobs far more often than previous generations ever did. So, whether the prominent reasons for job-hopping include a desire for career mobility and higher wages, or whether it is the result of workers seeking new opportunities and more flexibility post-COVID, voluntary turnover is likely to rise. Because there is consistently more turnover in our organizations, we need to make a profound change. We found that successfully integrating employees into their new roles is just the change we’ve been looking for.
Welcome to The Great Integration
Times have changed. Successful integrations aren’t as easy as they once were, even for the most qualified and willing people. Too often, a transitioning employee doesn’t live up to their organization’s expectations. Gartner Inc. surveys indicate that 49% of people promoted within their own companies are underperforming up to 18 months after those moves. From our experience at Fuel Medical, many of the administrators we work with claim a high percentage of employees who transition into their organizations are regarded as failures or disappointments two months later.
Imagine you just hired Mary, a front office employee, six weeks ago. She worked as a front desk scheduler for a year at a hotel before joining your practice. Although Mary has experience taking calls and answering difficult questions, she doesn’t have experience working in a health care setting. Mary enthusiastically answers each call using a script, but she still makes mistakes in gathering the right kind of information. This has caused some stress among her coworkers. The practice recently received several 1-star reviews online which indicates that your patients have noticed a change in their experience. It’s clear that Mary is underperforming (as a result, her coworkers are not performing at their usually high standards), but why? Mary has the proper skill set and understands the practice’s goals. You’d think that she would be able to “get it right” after six weeks.
Why are New Employees Underperforming?
It’s no longer sufficient to simply transfer knowledge to the employee and then hope they succeed. Successful integration is more than following a checklist to onboard a new hire in today’s environment. The reality is that the onboarding experience never ends. It’s not linear; even so, we tend to think of it as linear because that perspective helps us keep track of our work.
New People + Poor Onboarding + Big Problems
In the case of Mary, it’s possible that she doesn’t understand how her role at the front desk affects her colleagues and the practice as a whole. If she had gone through an integration process, she could have interviewed her coworkers to get a sense of how her position intersects with other positions. They could have explained why it’s important to collect certain information that helps when billing insurance companies or to ask patients to bring a companion which aids in diagnosing hearing loss. The practice could have also assigned Mary a buddy who might have given her a different perspective of health care—remember, Mary worked at a hotel previously and cannot relate to the behind-the-scenes approach in a medical setting.
Ready to Start Integrating Your New Employees?
At Fuel Medical, we help members take steps to integrate new employees. We make suggestions based on members’ needs to support their new hires make meaningful connections by understanding how their role impacts the organization, identifying and celebrating accomplishments and developing lasting relationships with their coworkers. Some techniques that you could use in your integration process are Performance Network Interviews and The Buddy Program. Maybe it’s time to consider how you integrate new employees into your practice.