orientation vs onboarding

How is Orientation Different from Onboarding?

Orientation and onboarding are two crucial aspects of mobilizing your workforce. On one hand, onboarding is a detailed process lasting anywhere from 6 to 12 months – involving documentation, project alignment, training and more. On the other hand, the objective of orientation is to familiarize an employee with the overall company culture in a one-time event. One cannot replace the other. In turn, it is crucial for organizations to map out their onboarding process and to provide a comprehensive orientation.

Terms Defined

Orientation is a one-time event put on for new hires in the first days or weeks of their employment. The goal of this event is to formally introduce new employees to your organization, its culture, mission, and values. Through new hire orientation, you can disseminate essential organization information. This means company policies, long-term business objectives, statutory employee benefits, perquisites and more.

Bringing together newcomers across departments, this event is typically set up in a conference-style format and lasts a few hours up to an entire day. Many organizations invite personalities from the management team and include social activities – such as welcome receptions – to build rapport. These activities are perceived as rewarding experiences, in turn reaffirming an employee’s decision to join an organization.

Onboarding is a process that unfolds during the first 6 to 12 months of employment. It consists of pre-boarding and orientation to help align new employees with their roles. Through onboarding, employees learn about your business objectives and culture through new job responsibilities and regular communication with their coworkers. Further, managers are encouraged to schedule regular check-in meetings in hopes of encouraging new hires to provide input.

“organizations with a standard onboarding process have 50% greater new hire retention – PwC

Competent organizations understand onboarding not only encompasses orientation but goes beyond it, considering new employees’ positions and roles. This comprehensive approach results in faster turnaround time when it comes to productivity, improved retention, and a greater sense of belonging. Consequently, with an effective onboarding process you can positively impact your company’s bottom line.

While a successful orientation helps familiarize new hires with the organization brand, it is not personalized to their specific roles. Therefore, it is essential to quickly transition from the orientation process to on-the-job readiness. This is where the onboarding process helps. When combined, orientation and onboarding can help you enhance organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and establish job clarity.

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