Talent Connection Blog

Many organizations mix up onboarding and orientation, or just think they are completely the same thing. If your organization is having turnover problems, this definition confusion might be the issue. Let’s talk about these two concepts, how they differ, and why they are both equally necessary.

We’ll start with the definitions. Orientation is a one-time event with the purpose of welcoming an employee to your company. Onboarding consists of a series of events, orientation being one of them, that helps employees learn to be successful in their day-to-day role in the company, and how their role benefits the company.

For a little more detail, let’s look at what each event entails. In orientation, an organization usually takes an employee through the following:

  • Introduction to the company mission and values
  • Mandatory new employee paperwork
  • Explanation of benefit plans
  • Review of all workplace policies
  • Review of administrative procedures

Onboarding, on the other hand, can last days, weeks, or even a month. In this time, employees are given a chance to get familiar with the company culture, participate in meetings, and have regular check-ins with management to track their progress.

To sum it up, think of it this way:

Focus: Orientation focuses on an employee’s role in the company; onboarding focuses on their role in a department.

Duration: Orientation is a one-time event; onboarding is a series of events.

Setup: Orientation takes place in a classroom-type setting; onboarding takes place on-the-job.

Content: Orientation covers the big picture of the organization; onboarding individualizes certain aspects of the organization.

Outcome: By the time orientation is finished, the employee is ready for training; by the time onboarding is over, the employee is ready to contribute.