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Employee Orientation vs. Employee Onboarding: Is There A Difference?

Feb 03, 2021

Employee orientation, employee onboarding – you’ve heard both terms thrown around in the corporate world. And while many people use the two terms interchangeably, the truth is, employee orientation and employee onboarding are two very different things. 

Here's a look at what employee onboarding and employee orientation is, the differences between the two, and why both are important to enhance your company culture and employee engagement.

What is employee orientation?

Done on the first day of work, employee orientation can really make your new employees feel warmly welcomed. To do this, you must inspire your employees by creating the orientation from the perspective of a new employee, who probably is a bit nervous on their first day. Some common things to include in a successful employee orientation: 

  • An introduction to your company’s mission, vision and values. This can be done through a presentation or speech by a company leader. Not only will employees get a better idea of what your company is about, but the face-to-face interaction with leadership will have them more at ease and feeling more connected to the company and its people. 
  • Informing employees about the important stuff. You’ll want to be slightly selective on what you inform them about. After all, overloading someone with information on their first day is not effective and they’re likely to forget a good portion of it. To know what to inform new employees on, ask yourself, “What was most helpful to know on your first day?” or “What did you wish you learned right away but didn’t?”
  • Forming connections with employees. It’s important to make employees feel welcome right from the start. Giving an office tour will give them a better lay of the land and introducing your other employees to the new hire will build a foundation for future co-worker relationships. What’s more, inviting a new hire to lunch will make them feel more welcome and give them a chance to connect with new co-workers.

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is more of a strategic approach to well-prepare employees for their new role. While employee orientation lasts the first couple days of work, onboarding is a much lengthier process. Onboarding includes:

  • Making sure the new employee understands company policies and procedures
  • Educating new employees on the tools they need to use
  • Training employees on how to do their daily tasks
  • Communicating clear expectations of the role and company

Should you implement employee onboarding or orientation at your workplace?

So which is more important: employee onboarding or employee orientation? The truth is, both are important. Onboarding sets your employees up for success in their roles, reducing burnout and absenteeism while increasing confidence. However, employee orientation is what gives employees a warm welcome that truly helps them feel to be a part of the team. The result? Higher levels of employee engagement, employees who are more likely to stay and contribute, and a more positive company culture.

P.S. For a lighthearted look at how to make your employee orientations (and okay, employee onboarding) more engaging, check out my earlier post, Employee Orientations: From Dreadful to Delightful in 3 Easy Steps

Enhance your employee orientation and onboarding programs for a healthier, happier culture

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