Onboarding is NOT Orientation

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Ask an HR Expert

Q: I recently took over the onboarding process at our company, and I’m trying to enhance the experience for new hires. I want to strike that balance between providing essential information and making thåe process engaging. What are some key best practices that will ensure a successful and effective onboarding experience for our employees?  

You’re right to recognize the importance of the onboarding process! According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), a structured onboarding results in employees who are 58% more likely to remain with the organization after three years. 

However, many companies use orientation and onboarding interchangeably when they actually serve different goals. And, generally, companies focus on orientation more than onboarding.   

Orientation is like a first impression: it’s all about introducing new hires to company policies, benefits, and where to find help. It’s typically a day or a couple days long. Onboarding, on the other hand, is a deeper dive into their roles and getting them comfortable and productive. This process can last weeks to months.

Both processes need to be standardized and well thought out.  

To make the process engaging and effective, there are many different strategies you can customize for your organization. Some of our favorites: 

Give new hires a warm welcome: Before the first day, you might send a welcome email that includes details like transit, dress code, what to bring, and what to expect, make sure their workspace is clean, includes some company swag, and ready for them (with working tech), and ensure they have easy access to all the tools they need to do their job. This can be adapted for a remote environment, sending tech and a welcome box before their first day.   

Make the first day memorable: A first day is a little like a first date. A great one will start the relationship off on the right tone. Start with an office tour, introduce them to their new team over lunch at a favorite local spot, and share the inside scoop on company culture, making the norms explicit so the new hires can adapt quickly to the way work is done at your organization.

Assign a work buddy: This can be a go-to person (or two) that is available for off-the-record questions and support, and a friendly face to find during office social time.

Don’t forget the small stuff: Little details like prepopulating calendars with regular meetings or to help them get to know different teams, and week-by-week trainings tailored to their role will help give shape to the workday, before they even arrive.

Putting in the time and thought to create an onboarding experience that not only provides essential information but also makes new employees feel valued and engaged from day one can go far in ensuring the investment you’ve made in hiring is long-lasting! 

Do you need more HR support? Boly:Welch HR Consulting can help your team go farther with budget-friendly human resources consulting, tailored for your success.

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