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Onboarding Vs Orientation: The Difference You Need to Know

5 min read
Last Updated on 28 January, 2021
Onboarding Vs Orientation: The Difference You Need to Know

When a new employee joins, welcoming them in a proper way is very much crucial. It is an important step because it becomes overwhelming for the new employees on their first day at work. They might feel stressed and confused as they will have limited idea about where they need to start their work or who to approach. To avoid such a situation, an HR manager needs to make them feel comfortable in the workplace.

But how to implement such a process in an organization? This is where onboarding and orientation comes into place which is an integral part of the talent management process.

Recommended Resource: A Complete Guide On Talent Management.

Most organizations stich with either with the onboarding or the orientation process. However, companies are reluctant to stick with both. There has always been this confusion about orientation and onboarding amongst HRs.

You might be thinking, aren’t these the same? Well, almost nearly similar. In fact, both these processes have their own significant role in an organization.

What is Orientation?

Orientation is the process through which new recruits are introduced to their jobs, workplace, co-workers, and responsibilities. Effective employee orientation answers any questions or concerns a new colleague may have, makes them aware of company policies and expectations, and eases them comfortably into their new positions.

Main Objectives of Orientation:

An orientation program is a one-time event lasting up to a week where it focuses on what role a new employee will play in the company. It is a conference-style event bringing together new recruits and explaining them the main objectives of the company. Information is being delivered through presentations and Q&A sessions.

Here are a few points that you need to accomplish during orientation:

  1. Introduction to the company’s mission, values, and vision. This can be done by the long-tenured employees by giving presentations.
  2. Employee paperwork completion which is mandatory. Also collecting and answering any questions the new employees have.
  3. Making new employees understand their job responsibilities and expectations.
  4. Introducing the benefits that a new employee will get and how to use them. This can be done by the HR representative. And it also gives them a sense of job satisfaction.
  5. Building strong relationships with fellow colleagues and co-workers. This will help the new recruits work more efficiently.

Advantages of Orientation:

  • Helping the new employees get acclimatized to their new workplace and giving them a physical tour. This helps them to have this basic idea of where the necessary tools are.
  • Introducing company policies and procedures so that new employees follow the rules and maintain decorum within the organization.
  • Orientation helps an organization to figure out what really does a new employee need. When an HR representative knows what problems a new recruit is facing, they can quickly work on it and solve the problem.
  • When you focus on helping a new employee get settled in their new workplace they feel more valued and they trust the company culture.

(Related Article: Workplace Orientation: What Does it Mean and its Purpose)

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is a thorough process where new employees are introduced to their respective department. They learn their work by attending meetings and starter projects with co-workers. Managers can schedule regular meetings to check-up on their new employees so that they become comfortable in asking about work-related queries.

Main Objectives of Onboarding:

Onboarding is a continuous process with a series of events that can last up to 3 months or more. During the onboarding process, individuals get assigned to their respective departments. One important point to keep in mind is that orientation falls under onboarding.

Here are a few points that are accomplished during onboarding:

  1. Helps the new employee settle in their new workplace.
  2. Increase the productivity of an employee for better results.
  3. The employees get more time to understand their work and their objectives.
  4. It is mainly focused on a particular individual rather than all the new recruits.
  5. At the end of the onboarding process, new recruits are ready to contribute to the company’s cause.

Advantages of Onboarding:

  • Supporting new hires in their projects and letting them know about their career options is always a good idea. You can also show them how they can achieve it. It drives the engagement of the new employees.
  • It helps in employee retention. With good onboarding programs, miscommunications and misunderstandings tend to reduce. And it also helps them to quickly acclimatize in their new environment.
  • With an effective onboarding program, new employees understand their duties and roles at work giving them a clear picture of what they need to do. This ultimately helps in boosting the company’s bottom line.
  • Onboarding programs help to reduce the stress of new recruits. This is done by laying out daily tasks and providing them with tools to improve their skills. This way things become more clear for them and helps them to achieve their respective targets.

(Related Article: Employee Onboarding- A Detailed Checklist)

What really is the difference?

If we look at the definition and take consideration of the major points, there is no major difference between these. Both are almost similar and very essential for a company when they recruit new employees. Orientation falls under onboarding and it is one of the stages of it where new employees learn about the company and their job responsibilities.

Both of these have the same objective but the only difference is their timing and the way it is implemented. Orientation is the process done immediately after an employee joins in to make aware of the company culture and the work they need to do. It can last up to a week or month. Whereas, onboarding is a thorough process done in their respective departments. It can last up to 3 months or a year.

Summing it Up:

What we can see from the above-mentioned points is that both onboarding and orientation compliment each other and help a new recruit settle in well. They both help the new employees to understand their work and the culture they will be working in.

You need orientation for the new employees to get familiar with the organization. And you need onboarding to get the new employees invested in their day-to-day work schedule.

When used together, orientation and onboarding help establish clearer goals and role objectives, job satisfaction and organizational commitment, which can help lower employee stress and turnover.

A well-organized orientation and onboarding process helps you to foster employee engagement so that you can take the best out of your new recruits.

Mrinmoy Rabha is a content writer and digital marketer at Vantage Circle. He is an avid follower of football and passionate about singing. For any related queries, contact