Understanding the Differences Between Orientation and Onboarding

Designing Digitally


Orientation and Onboarding training

Orientation and onboarding are vital components to integrating a new employee into a company or organization.

The primary goal is to acclimate the new hires in such a way that they will want to remain with the company for the long term. In any corporation, turnover is costly and negatively impacts the bottom line.

Orientation and onboarding training are not mutually exclusive. It isn’t a matter of choosing one over the other. They work in conjunction to provide a comprehensive training experience for new hires.

There are some fundamental differences between the two.  Orientation should be considered a one-time event, while onboarding training is an ongoing process.

Digging Deeper into the Differences

Orientation is viewed as one component of an onboarding training system.

It is a one-time event that a new hire participates in to learn important information that is specific to the company, but not necessarily their distinct role within the company.

Onboarding is a process that begins when a new hire is extended an offer for employment and doesn’t end until the employee is considered to be fully functioning in their new position.

Corporations need to consider these factors when seeking to understand the differences between onboarding and orientation:

  • Though a typical orientation may stretch over several days, it is still considered a one-time event.
  • Onboarding is a process that can continue anywhere from several months up to a year. The keyword is process. It is ongoing.
  • An orientation usually takes place in a classroom-like setting, with a one-way flow of information. The person leading the orientation will be the one speaking and providing the particulars of the company.
  • Onboarding is a two-way exchange of information and may involve several sessions with different department managers. The new hire is encouraged to ask questions and share experiences over time.
  • The information delivered in an orientation is usually universal to all employees. For example, benefits, insurance, and company procedures and policies are covered.
  • Onboarding is customized for the new hire depending on their specific role in the company. It should extend to regular meetings with the other employees in the same department, as well as department managers.
  • When an orientation day is finished, the new worker is still considered a “new hire.” He or she will still need to rely heavily on the help of other employees and their department heads to learn the day-to-day details of the position.
  • At the completion of the onboarding training process, a new hire is now a fully integrated and contributing member of the company workforce.

The Bottom Line

A new hire’s retention of information is greater with long-term coaching that is a hallmark of onboarding. Reinforcement of skills over time ensures greater success.

Employees who are better prepared to do their jobs tend to have a lower rate of turnover. A lower rate of turnover results in a corporation with a higher rate of productivity. While orientation is an important part of onboarding, it isn’t effective as a stand-alone training.

Many companies have found that incorporating Elearning into orientation and onboarding is a way to enhance and engage new hires at a higher level.  Certain elements of the training can be delivered on the employee’s time schedule and can reduce lack of productivity experienced by trainers.  For example, company history, background, and general policies can be delivered via eLearning.

A comprehensive orientation and onboarding program results in higher employee morale and engagement which leads to greater retention.  Well-trained employees improve productivity and positively impact the bottom line.  Inefficient, or a lack of comprehensive training and development, negatively impacts the company.

Designing Digitally, Inc. can help your organization with developing a thorough and engaging orientation and onboarding training experience for your employees. Get started today!

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