Orientation vs. Onboarding

Orientation vs. Onboarding

Okay, kids.  I’m just gonna put something out there:

“Orientation” and “Onboarding” are not necessarily the same thing.  There, I said it.

Lately, I’ve been researching a few onboarding topics for a project I’m working on, and I have been admittedly disappointed in my search results.  So many articles use terms like “orientation” and “onboarding” interchangeably, when they are, in fact, very different.  Here’s how:

Orientation is an event.  Onboarding is a process.

Orientation is typically the event/s offered during a new employee’s first days on the job.  This is where employees are introduced to the company. Where paperwork is completed.  An opportunity to become oriented to the organization…ahhh!

Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with an organization.  Orientation is certainly an important part of this process, but it should not be the only component of onboarding.  To effectively onboard an employee, a variety of experiences should take place over the course of days, weeks, or months (depending on the organization/role).  These experiences could include:

  • New Employee Orientation
  • Meet-and-Greet Sessions
  • Welcome Receptions, lunches and other social events
  • “Buddy” programs
  • Mentoring
  • On-the-job training
  • Classroom training
  • eLearning/self-paced training
  • Goal setting sessions
  • 1:1 meetings with manager
  • Discussion Forums
  • Cross-functional teams and projects
  • Building Tours
  • Opportunities to learn about the company’s industry, strategy, market share, competitors, etc
  • Networking opportunities
  • Departmental overviews…Who does what in the company? Break down your org chart!

Remember, the entire onboarding program should not be Orientation, but Orientation is definitely an important part of an onboarding program…

(Kind of like how all Kleenex are tissues, but not all tissues are Kleenex!)

And I shall now step down from my soapbox…

Your turn: What training, resources and other events make up your organization’s onboarding program?

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