We’ve got a question for you:
Do you know the difference between orientation and onboarding?
If you don’t know, don’t worry! That’s what we’re going to be discussing in today’s blog post. If you do know, we hope you’ll stick around to learn a little bit more about why you need both!
Orientation & Onboarding
They both start with the same letter, they both suggest the “beginning” of a new job or career, and they both are important in the “hire to fit” process. They are not, however, the same thing.
But first… what do we mean by “hire to fit?”
In a nutshell, it means that you do your best to hire the “right fit for the job,” but there’s actually a lot more to it than that. When you use a deliberate process in order to find a person who enjoys, excels, and thrives in the position you’re looking to fill, you will ultimately save on hiring costs, orientation and training, compensation, and workplace integration — all of which are expenses and processes that must start over every time you have to replace the person in the position.
Onboarding — Worth the Work
Onboarding is a continuous process that can begin long prior to the first day.
If you’re looking for a dictionary-style definition of onboarding, here it is:
“The action or process of integrating a new employee into an organization or familiarizing a new customer or client with one’s products or services.”
For our purposes, we’re going to focus on the phrase “process of integrating” because that’s the big difference between “onboarding” and “orientation.” Onboarding is a continuous process that can begin long before the first day. Orientation, on the other hand, is typically an event – a day of tours, mandatory information, and codes of conduct; something that is actually a small step in the entire onboarding process.
A successful onboarding process — one that is deliberate, open, informative, and preparatory — is one of your most important tools when it comes to increasing employee engagement. New hires who are properly prepared for the job they have been hired to fill have realistic expectations and an accurate understanding of their role. New hires like this commonly turn into satisfied, productive employees and, eventually, company leaders.
Head to the source.
So, then, what exactly does a successful onboarding process look like? It looks like a plan full of easily-accessible details and accountability tools and a healthy amount of internal research. Your goal is to set your new employees up for success as best you can, so what better way to do that than to ask your most valued, long term employees why they stay?
Conducting “stay interviews” like this can provide an incredible amount of insight into why your company works and what processes made (or would have made) the integration into your company a successful experience. Hopefully, your employees are comfortable enough with you to be honest and possibly provide some of their frustrating experiences for you to learn from.
Start with a binder. Seriously!
We suggest providing your new hire with a binder of helpful, relevant information designed to enhance their integration into your company. First and foremost, you’ll need to include a very clear document outlining your company’s standards of behavior. This particular topic should not be a mystery or hard to find — it should be easily-accessed information that employees hear loud and clear.
The MVV is the MVP
Next in line should be your company’s MVV — its mission, vision, and values. Having employees who understand and support your organization’s core values can make a huge difference in productivity and company loyalty. If you don’t identify — or even feel strongly against — the mission of your employer’s company, how motivated will you be to do your best work? Having an MVV present from day one of the hiring process will help you sort out unfit candidates and focus on the ones with similar goals and values.
Objectives and Checklists
Growth, skill development, and company familiarity should all be top priorities in the first few weeks of a new employee’s career journey. Keeping new hires on track and learning, as well as preventing excessive overwhelm can set the stage for confident, productive, long term employees. We recommend providing weekly checklists at the beginning of the onboarding process that outline a new hire’s objectives and responsibilities to promote clarity and motivation.
It’s also important to outline some important goals within this onboarding binder — not just goals for your employee but goals for you as an employer. These could be anything from “Learn the basics of XY software,” to “Maintain an environment of support and open communication for new hire questions.” Knowing that both employer and employee are working toward symbiotic goals can inspire loyalty and trust.
Important phone numbers, useful charts, new hire tips and tricks, even office culture topics like rotating potluck days — if you can compile any frequently-used information and keep it in the onboarding binder, you can remove a level of stress from your new hire’s shoulders.
Success is the ultimate goal.
Remember — the ultimate goal is finding the best fit for your open position. A large part of that relies on setting up new hires for success. Keeping open, approachable lines of communication and anticipating a new hire’s needs and expectations can pave the way for years of productive, satisfied employees.