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Why employee onboarding is so much more than orientation

3min read

There’s a strong relationship between employee Onboarding and new employee orientation (NEO), so much so that many people tend to use these terms interchangeably. But, they are not one and the same thing. In fact, one is a subset of the other.

New Employee Orientation 

NEO is simply the event of introducing new hires to your company. This formally begins once the candidate accepts your job offer, and ends when you hand them over to their supervisor or manager.

While it usually takes a few weeks for the candidate to start after receiving the job offer, a typical NEO event ranges from a half day to two days’ introduction, when employees move into their role. 

Employee Onboarding

Onboarding is so much more. It’s the process of helping new hires adjust to their new jobs as smoothly as possible by managing the early stages of their employment. As we mentioned in a previous post, this involves helping them to get to know the team and your company’s culture, as well as understand how their role fits into your company’s bigger picture. With a successful onboarding experience, new hires should feel at ease with their fellow co-workers, and be ready to make a big impression. In contrast to a two-day orientation event, employee Onboarding is usually a 30-90 day process that takes employees beyond their probationary period.

Here’s how NEO compares to employee Onboarding:

New Employee Orientation: 1-2 day process

  • Workplace policies and procedures
  • Paperwork and forms
  • Employee benefits presentation
  • Company overview
  • Meet and greet leaders
  • Office or facility tour

Employee Onboarding: 30-90 day process

  • New employee orientation
  • On the job training
  • Dedicated mentor/trainer
  • Manager/supervisor check-in
  • Progress reviews at specified time periods
  • Transition out of probationary period
  • Independent working

While NEO is an important part of the larger employee Onboarding process, it is just one part. NEO rarely lasts longer than two days. While Onboarding lasts for as long as the employee needs it.

Establishing connections and relationships

Onboarding involves helping the new hire to establish connections and relationships within the new culture. Through this ongoing process, the new employee is immersed in the company’s culture as they become a contributing part of it.

Over time, the process of Onboarding communicates your company’s purpose, culture, and goals, while the new hire establishes relationships with supervisors, mentors and others who will be key to their success.

Some companies choose to focus on education during Onboarding. They enrol their new hires in comprehensive training programs and have the new employees shadow their fully-fledged counterparts in customer meetings for example to learn how the team manages those relationships. For other great ideas to create your unique Onboarding experience, download our ultimate guide to employee Onboarding.

The benefits of a great employee Onboarding experience

It’s no surprise that new hires notice the difference between orientation and Onboarding in terms of the investment the company makes in them. As the first touch your new hire makes with your company, when your new hire feels that everyone is invested in their success, it sends a really strong and positive message. For your new hire, being guided through those early days, weeks, and months of a new job makes a world of difference from being left to figure things out for themselves.

Launch your employee Onboarding program with Flare

Set up your new starters for success, by creating a plan to immerse them in your culture and get them ready to assume their responsibilities with full support from their co-workers. With technology from Flare, you can make digital Onboarding part of your HR toolkit, improving employee engagement and performance, and significantly reducing admin and paperwork.

Book in for a demo, and see how easy it is to deliver a world class employee Onboarding experience for all your new starters.


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