Is There a Difference Between Employee Orientation and Onboarding?

Employee Onboarding

Not knowing the difference between employee orientation and onboarding, you may fail to effectively implement them. This increases your risk of driving away your new hires. 

Orientation is the first step in the onboarding process and usually lasts between 1- 3 days. Onboarding can last up to 6 months, depending on the job.  

Orientation is the planned introduction to new employees, making them feel comfortable in the office, reviewing the job duties, and completing all the relevant forms, benefits information, and other paperwork.  

These days must be enjoyable and informative while making the new hire feel comfortable and welcomed. It also involves some basic information about where to park your car or the kitchen amenities available in the staff lunchroom.  

You may be rolling your eyes if you are a tenured staff member, but trust me, this information is important for a new hire. They have no idea what to do on their first day for lunch if you haven’t given them the heads up of what to expect. 

Onboarding refers to the process of introducing a newly hired employee into the organization and equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to become more effective.  

Onboarding helps bring them onboard regarding company culture, understanding their job function, and feeling valued and accepted.

Making a great first impression is crucial for employee retention, and you only get one chance. Optimizing the employee experience even before they start will increase your chances of successfully integrating the new employee into the company quickly.

What is the impact of a poor onboarding experience?

It is unfortunate that companies don’t invest enough time during the new hire’s first 90 days or have poorly planned initiations resulting in a chaotic and disorganized employee experience. This may have an even greater impact on Millennials and Gen Z new hires, especially when it’s their first permanent role and unsure of what to expect.  

Turnover is costly, and very often, managers are scrambling to find a replacement while juggling multiple tasks and relying on other employees to pick up the slack. Hiring takes your managers away from their tasks, and the increased responsibility on the team causes fatigue. Recruiting and training takes time. It is a vicious cycle when turnover is high.

It takes months for a new hire to settle into their roles and to perform at their maximum level. Lower productivity due to high turnover and the time it takes to train new hires all directly impact the bottom line.

Turnover can also cause a lack of motivation and low morale amongst the existing workforce if they need to constantly train new hires while still producing the required output.

How can I enhance the employee onboarding experience?

A thorough onboarding process has multiple benefits. Happier employees, reduced employee stress, increase in productivity, and lower turnover are just a few. 

It takes time for the new employee to get to know their colleagues and to understand how their role ties in with the business goals. To make onboarding more successful, there are a 5 things you can do: 

1) Help your managers understand the importance of an inclusive onboarding process and have them participate.  

Let them know what is expected of them and why it is essential they participate. 

2) Talk about the organization’s history, culture, people, and values.

3) Give them access to the employee portal. 

n aThe new hire is often overwhelmed with a boatload of materials and information given to them on their very first day. Rather than giving them dozens of pages to read and memorize, consider giving them immediate access to the company’s employee portal and directing them to the information they need. In this way, the employee can absorb the information independently and at their own speed.

It is important to note that technology cannot replace the one-on-one interactions between new hires and other team members. A combination of both is ideal for the new hire’s onboarding experience.

4) Take time to explain what is expected of them and what steps they need to take to progress.  

In the early stages of a Millennial’s career, many are focused on learning and growth. Think about building in some cross-training or inviting them to participate in brainstorming meetings or committees to showcase their ideas.

5) Ask them to give feedback on the onboarding process. 

Rather than only providing the new hire with probationary feedback, consider asking them to also give feedback on their onboarding experience. This will enable you to make changes or tweak the process to ensure their expectations are being met.

With all the added tasks of bringing on a new employee, there is one last important thing to remember…

Managers need to remember to engage all their employees rather than creating positive experiences only for new recruits. It’s entirely normal to want to prioritize the onboarding experience, but don’t forget about them once they have comfortably settled into their roles.

The challenge of onboarding is bigger than any one person or the HR department to take care of. Involving your whole organization is the key to getting it done right. 

Contact Bridge Legal and HR Solutions for effective ways to improve your onboarding practices to retain top talent. For more information, contact (647) 794-5442 or at  

**Photo by Canva Studio from Pexels

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