It is well known that remote aged care services in the Northern Territory have a high turnover of both coordinators and care staff. This may be due to many reasons, such as the remoteness, lack of facilities, harsh physical environment and sometimes challenging community dynamics. Whatever the reason for staff members leaving, there is a real risk of corporate and service knowledge being lost, especially when there is no documented handover or succession plan in place.
To minimise the impact staff turnover may have on clients and the service, it is important for organisations to have both resources and written procedures in place to guide a new staff member.
Some of the resources I have found useful are:
- Policies and Procedures: one of the most important documents an organisation can have is a policy and procedures manual. A good manual will define organisational rules or guidelines, as well as providing clear directions on how to carry out tasks and key responsibilities for each role. Ensure that your policy and procedures manual is tailored to your organisation, as businesses that have been ‘sold’ a ‘one size fits all’ manual will find it much less effective.
- Operations guide: A daily operations guide for different sections of your organisation such as the kitchen, office and management is an ideal way of noting what happens on a day-to-day basis in your organisation – for example what time the day starts and ends, where key documents are kept, passwords and key contacts. This would be one of the first documents I would be looking for when starting at a new workplace.
- Daily diary or notebook: the day to a page diary is a personal preference of mine. I know a lot of information gets lost if I don’t note it down in a daily diary. The diary can be used to note up-coming events as well as prompting me when writing reports. Likewise, a wall calendar is handy for alerting other staff of important dates and events.
- Staff handbooks: these usually form part of orientation and are an on-going reference resource for incoming staff members. Like your policy and procedures manual, they should be tailored for your organisation. If you have a number of staff members with low literacy levels, you won’t want a handbook that is text heavy.
- Orientation procedure and Induction checklist: rather than throw someone in the deep end and hope they swim, a proper orientation procedure is going to enhance the chances of the new employee staying and being effective in their role. This is the perfect opportunity to induct the person into the workplace, introduce them to key personnel, show them where resources and documents are held and ensure they have support available for the first few days or weeks.
- Program level email addresses. Generic email addresses may be a better option rather than using a format such as: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is because stakeholders may not realise there has been a change of personnel and could be sending emails to a dead address. I have experienced this particular situation; the email address might still be valid, but if nobody is checking the inbox after that person has left, valuable information can be lost. It also looks unprofessional when an email goes unanswered.
- Organisation: finally, if you are the outgoing coordinator of a service, try to leave your office and files organised in such a way that the incoming employee can easily find key resources – this also applies to computer based resources as well as hard copies.
I’m sure many of you know the hardships faced by new employees as well as existing ones, so these tips should take some of the stress out of it!
Would you add anything to this list? Is there anything that you have found particularly useful when starting at a new job? Share your thoughts in the comments!