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Employee Orientation is NOT Onboarding

Updated: Feb 8

Roughly one in four organizations do not utilize any form of employee onboarding and most HR professionals believe their organization does a less-than-satisfactory job of onboarding their new employees. Consider your own experiences as a new employee—how have you felt? Do you recall feeling lonely? Unsupported by your boss? Unprepared to complete job tasks? Surprised by expectations that weren’t shared during your interview?

 

Organizations deploying a well-designed onboarding strategy benefit dramatically, as they witness increased employee productivity, satisfaction, and retention. In rethinking our onboarding strategy, we first need to understand that onboarding is not orientation. In fact, employee onboarding starts much earlier.

We still tend to view recruitment and hiring as separate from orientation, yet these are deeply intertwined aspects of a streamlined onboarding strategy. Whether through job postings, TV commercials, or radio ads, our first contact with a prospective job candidate initiates our onboarding strategy. Within these announcements, we present the work we do. We introduce our organization’s culture and values. And we share our commitment to diversity and society. Through these engagements, we begin shaping candidate perceptions of our work environment.


During the selection process, we screen and evaluate candidates based on predetermined job responsibilities and related attributes. We invite them for interviews, show them our facilities, and discuss what we’re all about. Regardless of who is hired, each candidate is watching and learning about how we treat our employees and what we value as an organization.

 

Employee orientation begins once a new employee has started and comprises aspects of welcoming an employee to the organization. During orientation, we highlight our mission and strategy, we review our history, we introduce them to new coworkers, and we quickly begin training up the newcomer to help them get started in their job. These steps are important, as they relay to employees what we deem is significant about our organization. We can go much further in orientation by integrating an organized socialization component. While there are many ways to help new employees fit in, formalized mentorships, social gatherings, employee resource groups, etc. are all intentional strategies we can use to start building a connection with our new employees. Considering the fact employees who feel connected to their team and supported by the organization are much more likely to be retained, it seems imperative we find ways to make our employees feel comfortable and an important part of our mission.


Lastly, we need to provide our employees with the knowledge, tools, and support to be successful. This includes developing high-quality training, which is offered by a training expert who knows how to engage trainees and ensure learning transpires.


Onboarding requires a minimal investment from employers yet is frequently overlooked as we rush to get new employees onto the floor. We need to change that mindset and view onboarding as an early investment into ensuring our newcomers (a) have the support they need, (b) have the knowledge and skills required, and (c) feel like they are critical to our success.


By investing in our newcomers' acclimation and development, we also benefit and can feel good about our efforts.


We're in this together.


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