Onboarding is the process or action of bringing a new employee on board with a company. The process often includes a range of activities, some of which are performed by human resources professionals. These activities are designed to integrate a new hire, such as:
- An introduction to the company’s structure
- An outline of the organization’s mission, vision, and values
- Insights into the company culture
- An introduction to their team members and responsibilities
Some companies onboard new hires over a day or two, while others may spread out the activities over one or more months.
While the terms “orientation” and “onboarding” share some similarities, the two are different processes. Orientation may be part of the onboarding process, as it involves bringing employees up to speed on various policies, responsibilities, and other attributes of a company. But onboarding encompasses more than just orienting a new hire to their surroundings. Its primary purpose is to set an employee up for their future in a new role and with a new organization, contributing to the company’s overall vision and goals.
Some of the top onboarding complaints among new employees include inconsistency and confusion. If a business doesn’t have an established and formal onboarding process, individuals hired across different departments may have completely different experiences. Since onboarding sets the tone for a new hire’s future and success in their role, it’s a vital aspect of any company, regardless of size.
According to Gallup, 12 percent of employees felt their company did a great job with the onboarding process. However, while that number is low, the members of that group were almost three times more likely to express that they have the best possible role for their professional lives. Less than 30 percent of those surveyed reported feeling supported and prepared to excel in their new role, indicating that there is room for improvement among companies across all industries.
A strong onboarding program may begin as soon as an employee accepts a job offer. This phase is often referred to as pre-boarding and may include:
- Inviting the new hire in to tour the office
- Providing details about the organization’s structure, benefits, and other details
- Sending a gift, such as company swag or a treat
- Assigning the new hire to an existing employee to serve as their mentor
- Issuing an invitation to use the company HR software to input their personal details
By taking some of these steps prior to a new employee’s start date, a company can minimize some of the stress around beginning a new job. Pre-boarding may also save a few steps on day one, allowing the hire to focus on other things related to their job and responsibilities.
The orientation process introduces the employee to the mission, values, and vision. It may also include a review of the employee handbook and company policies, as well as the completion of all necessary paperwork. A successful orientation process usually involves a checklist to ensure consistency.
When onboarding a new hire, the aim should be to create a foundation for the employee’s ongoing success.
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