When I first began my career I remember the excitement of getting a new job. I won’t bore you with all the details but it is fun to reminisce about the thrill of going to the mall to purchase a new outfit for the interview. Pacing nervously as I rewrote my resume for the thousandth time trying to make myself sound impressive when all I had to offer was a bachelor’s degree and no professional work experience. The interview is a blur. I remember the interviewer shaking my hand and telling me “we will contact you within the week if you are our candidate.” The ride home was a cacophony of emotions raging from disillusionment, to giddiness, to hopefulness and finally scolding myself silently for incomplete answers during the interview. Then the moment arrived that Human Resources called and congratulated me on being selected. My report time for orientation was written down on a random piece of paper. Yeah, I got the job! I reported on the assigned day ready to start my new position.
Fast forward to 2014 and the process at many organizations is different. The word onboarding has been added to the business vernacular and the word orientation is less clear than it once was. Organizations are questioning whether they should expand their orientation programs for new hires, incorporate orientation and onboarding into one program or do they need an orientation program and an onboarding program? What is more cost effective? Do they really need two programs catered to new hires that may or may not net the retention results that the business demands?
Organizations are cautious about where to spend dollars on employee investment. Onboarding forces organizations to make a financial commitment orientation never required. Most companies from fast food to Fortune 500 continue to schedule orientation for new hires as part of the initiation ritual. However businesses with revolving door new hires are hesitant to make the additional commitment to onboarding because they deem it an unnecessary obligation.
According to Profiles International in an April 24, 2014 blog post, Orientation vs. Onboarding by Ty Hall,
Onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into a company.
Orientation is the process of introducing a new employee to a job.
Orientation is still the initial contact a new hire has as an employee. Usually the new hire meets a human resource person who shares the organization’s broad picture including mission, philosophy, policies, organization chart, product line, work times, video, safety, security, workman’s compensation, drug policy and dress. They distribute the Employee Manual; fill out tax/ payroll paperwork and present benefit packages. Some organizations do a meet & greet with managers, tour of the facility and partner new hires with current staff as a buddy. The timetable is at least one day and additional orientation is considered job training.
Onboarding is a process. Preparation for onboarding begins before orientation and continues for anywhere from three months up to two years. The timetable is driven by the new hire’s position in the company. It is an integrated process considered an investment in the new hire to set up the employee for successful integration into the company culture and system. If the Onboarding Process is designed and implemented correctly it provides a win-win for the new hire and the company. The emphasis on productivity, teambuilding and retention makes onboarding an excellent return on investment for the company.
Orientation is tactical, informational and impersonal. It can be done alone but more often in large organizations orientation includes several new hires from different areas of the company. The common denominator is that the employee is new to the company.
Onboarding’s purpose is to be engaging and encouraging to the new employee. Onboarding requires relationship building to support the new hire and assure them that they are in a place that values their competency and wants them to be on the team. Onboarding is an investment in the new employee.
I am not convinced that organizations need to choose between onboarding and orientation for new hires or discard orientation as ineffective. It seems to me that most organizations could reap the benefits of having an onboarding process that includes orientation as part of the initial phase. I support a hybrid of the two processes. Companies can build a solid employee foundation by investing in employees at the outset of their employment. Spend more time building a relationship between the employee and the company not less time. Set employees up for success by providing integration beyond orientation. Onboarding would look a little different in the fast food industry than it would on Wall Street but the bottom line results would be the same…more productivity, engaged workforce, teams that work and high retention rates.
Interested in creating an onboarding process for your organization? Let APLS Group help.
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