Employee Orientation VS Employee Onboarding

The two most important events that happen when new employees are hired are Employee orientation and employee onboarding. Though their definitions and methods overlap each other these two events are significantly different from each other. In this post, we shall take a look at the differences between these two. This is not to conclude which is more important, rather it is for HRs to understand the difference in their purposes to get the most out of both.

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Let us start by understanding these two concepts. 

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Employee orientation

Orientation is a short-term errand that is conducted to communicate all the information regarding the company, its work culture, rules and regulations, and more. It is also to inform the employees about their roles and responsibilities and also what is expected of them. A good orientation program should be able to answer the following questions- 

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  • 1. How is work carried out in the company? 
  • 2. What are the responsibilities of the new employees and how they can fulfill them?
  • 3. What are the legal policies and terms they are compliant with. 

Employee onboarding

Employee onboarding is long-term compared to employee orientation. It is a more comprehensive process and covers a lot of things. Onboarding is for new employees to experience the work culture and their new work environment.

The bigger objective here is to make them familiar with the rest of the team and to improve their skills to carry out their responsibilities. Employee orientation is in fact a part of the onboarding process. Whether the onboarding is held in the office or online using HR onboarding software, there are some common elements of the onboarding program. These are: 

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What is the difference?

The difference lies in the purpose of these events. Orientation is meant to communicate and inform (passive) whereas onboarding is meant to give practical knowledge and experience (active). 

Orientations are generally one-sided, the HRs will feed you with loads of information. Onboarding demands employee involvement in the process as well. Both the employee and the company have to take efforts to accommodate the new employees in the company culture and be more familiar with it. 

Another point of difference is the duration. Orientations can be done in a day but onboarding programs are ongoing. They can easily last for 3 months or more. 

The onboarding program requires some amount of personalization. The knowledge, skills, and roles of employees are different hence personalization plays an important role in creating content for the onboarding program. It will also need personal attention from the manager’s side. Employee orientation, on the other hand, follows the one size fits all approach.

The outcome of orientation is a well-informed and aware employee who knows his job, expectations, and company rules. An onboarding program makes the new hires ready for their job and creates good relationships between the employees and their managers. 

Bottom line

The onboarding program encompasses a lot of elements and an orientation is one of them. This is precisely why most people don’t understand the difference between them. But knowing these differences is very crucial. When HRs are aware of the difference they can easily accomplish the objectives of these events. Both are equally important and have the power to influence employee satisfaction and turnover rate. One gives clarity regarding the duties and expectations and the other shapes the employees to fit their role in the company and make better bonds. We hope this post was able to clear the confusion between these two components. 

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