“Orientation” vs. “Onboarding”: What’s the Difference?

As a small business owner, you may not hire a new employee very often. When you do bring on someone, do you expect them just to jump in and start working? If you do, you and the new person may be in for a bumpy ride. If you put a little more thought into it, you may “orient” the person, in the manner described below. But that still is not the best approach.

Most people are familiar with corporate version of New Employee Orientation. It’s that mind-numbing, day-long lecture on policies and procedures and how wonderful it is that you’ve joined this wonderful organization. As a small business owner you probably don’t have time for the day-long lecture. So, you may decide that the best thing is to sit the new hire down with your Policies and Procedures manual and maybe have them join the rest of the staff for a pizza lunch. Both these examples can be described as Orientation – an event that the new employee sits through and from which they learn little or nothing.

In contrast, Onboarding is a process. It starts when you make an offer and the new hire accepts. It doesn’t end until the person is fully integrated into their role in the business. Usually this period is at least three months and often more, depending on the employee’s level. And it involves planning at every step. Stay tuned for a future blog with details about the onboarding process and how you can make it work for you.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

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