What Is Onboarding?
Onboarding (also sometimes called ‘Organizational Socialization’ or in the UK ‘Induction training’) is a term that refers to the concept of getting new employees up to date, as quickly as possible, on the company’s etiquette, way of doing things, culture and on the work itself.
It is a term that is commonly used in HR (Human Resources) departments in respect of newly hired employees and staff.
Onboarding is about ensuring that all newly hired staff are properly motivated and given the chance to feel a part of their new company and their new role within it.
It is what Mark Dorosz calls ‘Behavioral development’. In other words, helping the new employees to quickly adapt to their new working environment and the company and their department’s culture.
In a research study, we recently did at Symonds Research & Training as part of an academic paper, we found a 45% greater staff retention rate of new hires, where onboarding is a key part of the strategy for welcoming new hires.
Onboarding, in essence, from our own research, is about instilling new employees with confidence, the motivation to fit in and succeed, and a clear path to understanding their own role within the company.
It is about setting the tone for new employees and helping them to become effective members of the company!
Our own findings are also supported by another management study, a study that found that helping the employee socialize and really fit into the company is key to retaining this employee beyond 90 days.
Indeed, the first 90 days of new employees’ time in your company is a crucial time.
Benefits of Onboarding
Whilst onboarding can increase the cost of the initial training you provide new employees, there are clear benefits in providing onboarding. These benefits tend to include:
- New staff who merge into their team and workforce much more easily
- Happier staff
- Better productivity from the start
- Better staff retention in the longer term
- A clearer understanding of the organizational psychology by new staff and thus an easier way to fit in with the existing company culture.
Through onboarding, new employees tend to assimilate better from the start and this helps these new staff to more easily feel accepted and a part of the company and the team they are working within.
Onboarding is an essential tool in employee retention and reducing the cost of re-hiring and re-training employees!
What Is the Difference Between Onboarding and Orientation
Many companies provide orientation for new staff and new employees starting a new role in the company.
So what is the difference between orientation and onboarding you might quite fairly ask?
Orientation is a stage of onboarding that takes place at the very beginning, such as on day one of the employee’s new job. Orientation will include learning about the job role and responsabilities and company ethics and culture.
Onboarding is a bigger all-encompassing process, particularly over the first 90 days. The intentioon, with onboarding, is to help the employee fit into the company’s culture and way of working, be trained in the role and other key workplace courses, and to make sure the employee is happy and likely to stay long-term (reducing your staff retention costs significantly).Dr Paul Symonds
With orientation, there tends to be a fairly basic introduction to the company and to the job role the new employee has been hired for.
The issue with orientation is that it is, in effect, too generic and not in-depth enough.
Onboarding, on the other hand, is normally more in-depth training that aims to:
- make the company’s culture clear
- help new staff to feel valued and part of the team
- truly understand the most productive way to do the job they have been hired for.
Have you ever started a new job and had an induction but not been left with a real understanding of how the company works, how to do your job properly, and so on? You are not alone!
Onboarding Process 4 Phrases and Steps
Step 1 – Pre-Planning
You want new hire employees to start off feeling valued and wanted from the start.
Have you ever started working for a company and sat for 2 days waiting for a computer and email account and been left feeling unwanted, and with the company also instantly losing productivity?
Consider the following for each new hire before they even start (this is all on the Onboarding Checklist that you can download for free below)
- Email set up for new employees by IT (and added to the necessary email groups)
- Desk (or Work station) allocated
- Computer and software set-up at their desk
- Phone and number set-up
- Employee welcome card and pack
- What skills, knowledge, and support do they need to do their jobs well? Organize any needed training.
Step 2 – Week 1 Orientation and Engagement
On day one, and in the first week of the job starting, you will want to include the orientation.
This should be used to help the new hire understand the overall philosophy of the company.
Day 1 To-Dos
- Meeting/Presentation by Payroll/HR for the new hire/s.
- All documents from payroll and HR are ready and provided and any questions are answered.
- Employee Walkaround – Introductions and overview of how the company runs.
- ID card made and provided
- Parking permits (organized as needed)
- Video presentation on the company’s history and culture
- Shown locations (toilets, photocopy machines, parking area, fire exits, conference rooms, supplies room etc.)
- Other (company-specific tasks)
- Meeting between the new hire and their direct manager (or if busy another manager) – (see the list of manager questions on our free onboarding checklist below)
Step 3 – Training (Job Specific and Key Workplace Courses)
You will want to provide two types of training for newly hired staff.
The job-specific training will, of course, depend on the role itself the new hire will do.
Do take the time to ensure that there is a clear plan for the job training in a way that not only helps the new hire understand how to do the job but also to understand the way the role is done in line with the company’s culture.
Part of onboarding is about creating a positive work environment and culture, such that you have a long-term employee.
The following training programs can be especially useful for new hires, as part of onboarding:
- Conflict management (for anyone who will manage others)
- Mental health awareness at work
- Mindfulness in the Workplace
- Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
Step 4 – 90 Day Plan
As mentioned a few times in this post, onboarding is central to staff retention beyond 90 days.
For this reason, focus on achieving the following in this time period:
- New hire is fully supported from the start (consider having a mentor from the same department for the new hire).
- Encourage any opportunities for social engagement within the workplace and for inter-term and interpersonal training.
- Check with the new hire regularly in this period that they have been fully aided in respect of paperwork (i.e. to set up any pension, benefits, and so on).
- Ensure that the new employee has a point of contact for any issues and questions.
Sample Downloadable Onboarding Process Document
Types of Training for New Hire Staff
Classroom training is still one of the very best ways in which to provide training for new hire employees, both for induction and other onboarding training.
Instructor Teacher-led training gives training that human and personal touch that aids the learning process.
Classroom training also means the chance to try out certain skills in the presence of others, such as when offering presentation skills training.
Online eLearning Training
Online learning can also be great, with the benefit that it offers flexible and geographically independent learning.
Online training is often 1-to1, such as our ‘Train the Trainer‘ course.
Blended learning refers to mixing various types of learning.
You can, for example, combine online and trainer-led classroom training.
For onboarding, you are likely to certainly want classroom training and you might choose also to include online training. It is really your choice.
Further Resources about Onboarding
- What Is Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace and Dealing with It - July 17, 2022
- Jon Britain – Trainer Profiles Series - August 15, 2021
- 6 Quick Icebreakers Games for Training Seminars and Meetings for Small Groups - April 25, 2021