The first day on the job can be anxiety-inducing. Everything and everyone is new, and you’re scared to mess up, this is especially true for new dispatchers who learn of the value of their roles, the life-or-death situation type of calls, and decisions they have to make. First-day jitters can be worse or better depending on the organization’s onboarding process, and Halcyon Frank is back on the Justice Clearinghouse to ensure onboarding goes a little bit smoother for both the employee and the agency.
Halcyon is the Founder of The Dispatch Lab – a dispatch training and support organization that provides training programs to dispatch agencies in the US. She is also a full-time dispatcher for a county agency dispatching law, fire, and EMS.
This session’s discussion tackled:
- The typical onboarding experience, differentiating onboarding from orientation, and how training coincides with onboarding.
- Statistics illustrating the value of onboarding to employee retention and satisfaction.
- The four building blocks of onboarding, the three levels in which onboarding occurs in an organization, and the ideal onboarding conditions that help employees to be successful in their role.
- A sample training manual that outlines the different topics that must be covered as part of onboarding.
- Providing realistic introductions to manage the new hires’/trainees’ expectations on what a workday would look like, the calls that must be attended to, and what the job entails in general.
- Ensuring an organized onboarding through planning, utilizing checklists and guides, providing printed introduction and training materials, dedicating manpower, and practicing consistency with the process.
- Areas that must be clarified with trainees during onboarding as part of managing their expectations.
- The critical part in dispatch onboarding of taking off the pressure for the trainees by:
- Communicating the difficult if not potentially traumatic nature of the job.
- Providing flexibility for the new hires should they need extra time to be ready for the actual call-taking job.
- Extending leniency to the trainees should they decide that they are not fit for the industry and making them feel that it does not equate to failure.
- Boosting their confidence to gain employee satisfaction and organizational commitment.
- Other ideas that may be integrated to ensure that your agency is effectively onboarding your new hires and setting them up for success in the process.
- Welcome letters, introduction packets, and other content to welcome and provide them an overview of the job and the culture of the agency.
- Extending assistance by allowing them to complete paperwork ahead of time and providing an online portal for resources.
- Assigning a dedicated resource person who can answer questions, walk them through the onboarding process, and help them forge connections and information networks.
- The value of a thorough onboarding that communicates the value the agency puts onto its employees and reflects the structure of the organization.
Questions and comments from the audience were about:
- Creating an onboarding portal using Google Sites.
- Formal mentorship programs.
- The length of probationary periods and the onboarding process.
- Resources from the Denise Amber Lee Foundation for dispatchers.
- Who gets to do the realistic introductions.
- Varying/shuffling hours during training, and the flow and topics covered.
- Including topics as grooming standards, stress management, and wellness into the orientation/onboarding outline.
- Communicating to dispatchers how critical their role is to public safety and emergency response.
Other Webinars with this Speaker
- Feb 9: Domestic Violence and Dispatch
- May 4: Creating the Best Start for New Dispatchers (this webinar)
- Aug 31: Communicating for Effective Change
Resources and Handouts
- “I am already doing a lot of this already, which confirms that I am going in the right direction as a new supervisor. I just wish we could have had more time because this topic could go on for hours. I loved the Radio Etiquette 101 printout. I will be handing this out to my center as a reminder.” — Tammy
- “This was a really good topic especially as I am getting ready to start advertising for a new employee.” — Nicole
- “The handouts were nice and we will definitely use those in our training orientation. Thank you.” — Nakia
- “We currently have a pretty in-depth orientation program but I feel we trail off afterward. We are also a very large agency so I feel like people just get lost in the crowd. We need to follow up and the “onboarding” is something I think we should look more into.” — Lauren
- “Received some good tips for getting started with a new hire. I like how it was specified that certain approaches may not work for certain agencies. One size fits most is not applicable in this profession.” — Kala
- “I like the idea of a welcome to dispatch packet and providing them with different resources. Thank you!” — Jillianne
- “She makes that whole beginning processes seem more functional. We will be utilizing the ideas to rework what we thought was onboarding and is more orientation.” — Heather