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New Employee Orientation and Onboarding | What’s the difference?

by / Friday, 03 April 2015 / Published in Business

WelcomeOnboarding and Orientation ~  Sometimes these words are used interchangeably, but they are distinctly different. This article explains the difference, and the benefits of each.

Definitions

New Hire Orientation is a training event that may take anywhere from two hours to multiple days.  It is typically a classroom experience where new hires meet people from different areas of the company and learn basic information like the company’s history, vision and values.

Onboarding is the process of helping new hires get quickly ramped up to be successful in their new position. The supervisors sets clear goals, expectations and performance standards to be successful.  The new hire is also introduced to the culture and norms (aka sub-culture) of their team or department.

The three focus areas of the onboarding process are a) company, b) team and c) position.   During onboarding, there is, of course, training and development around the specific job and responsibilities.  Just as important is getting the new team member up to speed on how the team functions. This not only includes things like standards and procedures, but also norms and unspoken rules.  Talking openly about company culture can save a lot of headaches and conflict for someone is coming from a different environment.

Why Invest in Onboarding

According to SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management), new employees who attended a well structured onboarding orientation program, were 69% more likely to remain at a company up to three years. Losing an employee due to their experiences of being confused, feeling alienated, or lacking confidence is a sign of poor onboarding programming.

The cost of turnover can be a tremendous burden on a company’s bottom line.  Contrarily, “organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 54 percent greater new hire productivity and 50 percent greater new hire retention”.  (source: interactiveservices.com)

Benefits of Orientation

  • Helps people assimilate the organization’s history, vision and values
  • Fosters Community
  • Consistent Message
  • Pride in Workplace

Benefits of Onboarding

  •  Builds internal networking opportunities
  • Provides specific learning objectives and resources
  • Sets performance objectives and expectations
  • Early engagement
  • Provides Direction to Hiring Managers

Many companies do a good job of training someone to accomplish their specific duties. But as mentioned above, onboarding is a broader scope. It is understanding the context in which those duties are performed that can make or break a new hire’s success.

Summary

There are plenty of studies that show a solid orientation program helps people acclimate quickly to their new job and surroundings are more likely to stay with the company longer. But it doesn’t stop after the initial training. The scope of onboarding expands to include expectations, norms and setting the employee up for long-term success.

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