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August 15, 2016
By Leslie Deutsch, Practice Director for TEKsystems Education Services
My team and I are fanatical about the difference between orientation and onboarding. While many people use the terms interchangeably, we know orientation is just one part of an effective onboarding program.
Failing to understand the difference between orientation and onboarding makes it likely you'll overlook key components that can make or break the success of your efforts.
Let me explain why this matters.
Orientation is an event to welcome the new hire and officially establish them as part of your company. This event generally occurs the first week on the job for all new hires, regardless of their role. Orientation, or “bootcamp” as it's often called, introduces a new employee to your company’s culture and offers socialization with other new hires. It’s your opportunity to make a great first impression and help validate they made the right choice in coming to work for your company.
Many organizations bring in top leadership to illuminate your company’s history, vision and goals. Others include social activities, such as cocktail/welcome receptions, casino night or group-based philanthropic activities as a way to build camaraderie. This can help solidify an employee’s decision to join a company they see as fun to work for as well as rewarding.
Onboarding, on the other hand, is a process that unfolds throughout the first 6-18 months of employment, spanning from recruitment through pre-boarding and orientation, to ramp up new hires to peak performance. High-performing organizations know that while onboarding encompasses orientation, it also goes far beyond it, taking the new hire’s role and position into account. This holistic approach results in better retention, faster time to full productivity and a greater sense of belonging—all of which directly impact your bottom line.
Organizations with structured onboarding programs experience
60% improvement in revenue per full-time employee
63% improvement in customer satisfaction [PwC]
There’s no cookie-cutter approach to designing a world-class orientation. Some important factors to consider include:
Most organizations have invested heavily in developing orientation materials and content. HR and corporate training departments play a valuable role in defining the essential information that new hires need to begin their job duties, such as information on the organizational and departmental structure, policies and procedures. When evaluating the maturity of an organization’s existing orientation, we collaborate with internal stakeholders to create an experience that is memorable and aligns new hires with the company’s brand and connects them to go-to people within their business area and across other areas.
Organizations with a standard onboarding process have 50 percent greater new hire retention