What Are the Onboarding and Orientation Processes for New Employees?

what are the onboarding and orientation processes for new employees

Many employers use orientation and onboarding interchangeably, but understanding the difference can help you better prepare new employees and improve your company’s hiring process.

In this article, we will explain what each of these terms means, understand the differences, and show you how to effectively conduct these processes.


What is employee orientation?

New employee orientation is a process, designed to introduce new hires to their workplace, colleagues, job responsibilities, and company policies.

It helps new employees feel comfortable and understand the company culture. It also sets expectations for their new position.

This process should help new hires understand how things work at the company, how to perform their new duties, and who they can turn to for assistance and support.

A well-executed orientation can turn a daunting task into a positive experience, setting the foundation for a long-lasting work relationship.


What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into the workplace.

It begins as soon as a new employee accepts a job offer and includes events such as new hire orientation to help them learn more about the company and their role.

Onboarding is tailored to each individual. It adapts based on their progress.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted companies to rethink how they onboard new employees, with virtual onboarding proving to be more effective than traditional methods.

What is virtual onboarding?

Virtual onboarding is a digital process that connects new employees to an organization using virtual tools and technology.

It involves video meetings, webinars, virtual tours, digital document signing, and access to online training and resources.


Onboarding vs. orientation: The differences

Both onboarding and orientation help new employees adjust to their roles, albeit with slightly different approaches.

Comparing employee orientation and onboarding can enhance each stage of your hiring process.

  • Goals

Orientation is designed to provide a quick, straightforward introduction that gives new employees the essential information they need immediately.

It serves as a crash course for a successful start at your company and follows a similar structure for every new employee, with minor role-specific differences.

Meanwhile, onboarding aims to support and guide new hires, helping them gain a deeper understanding of their role within the company.

Tailored to each new employee and their specific role, onboarding aims to make new hires feel more comfortable in their new roles.

Since new hires have different learning paces and unique experiences, questions, and concerns, the onboarding process can be adjusted to accommodate these differences.

  • Approach

Employee orientation usually follows a conference-style approach, aiming to provide new hires with a wealth of information.

While there may be interactive elements like tours and Q&A sessions, the primary goal is to equip employees with the necessary information for a successful start.

On the other hand, onboarding involves various formats, including hands-on experience, one-on-one and group training, supervisor meetings, and customized formats based on employee needs.

It adapts as new hires learn and develop skills, using assessments to support their progress.

  • Content

Specific topics covered during onboarding and orientation may vary. Shared topics are typically covered during employee onboarding, which is a longer process.


Topics usually covered in new employee orientation include:

  • Company’s mission, vision, and values, how all of these apply to employees
  • Company policies and procedures
  • Safety procedures
  • Compensation and benefits
  • New hire paperwork
  • Tour of the offices, facilities, or location (if applicable)
  • Introduction to coworkers
  • Setting up logins and security clearances.


Employee onboarding involves several components, such as:

  • Goal setting
  • Offer an onboarding buddy
  • Regular meetings with a supervisor
  • Training on specific job tasks
  • New hire evaluations

Part of the employee onboarding process is conducting assessments to evaluate the performance of new hires and customize additional training as needed.


  • Duration

Onboarding process is an ongoing program that runs for the first 2-3 months of employment. That said, it may extend beyond the first 3 months based on the employee’s progress or needs.

Orientation typically starts on the employee’s first day, while onboarding usually commences before the official start date.

This may involve sending a welcome email with detailed information or having a new employee complete paperwork before their start date.


Tips of successful employee onboarding and orientation

Employees need a quick version of key information from orientation to start quickly. Ongoing support from a strong onboarding process helps them settle in.

Done well, orientation and onboarding complement each other and help employees succeed faster.

Use these tips for successful employee orientation and onboarding:

  • Make it fun: Make orientation and ongoing training fun to excite new hires and immerse them into your culture faster.
  • Feedback: As your company grows, your orientation and onboarding processes will evolve. . Asking for feedback from current employees helps improve the process.
    Create surveys for new employee orientation and onboarding to gather structured feedback. Use the feedback to identify strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Involve more people: Involve others in orientation planning, such as direct and senior managers, HR, and current employees, can provide valuable insight and improve relationship building with new hires.
  • Create a standard process: To ensure consistency across departments and provide a unified experience for all new hires, you need to create checklists and policies defining the specifics of the orientation and onboarding processes.
  • Avoid making it overwhelming: New employees are bombarded with lots of information. Make it easier for them to absorb everything by breaking up the orientation and onboarding processes into smaller, manageable parts, starting with the most important information they need.

Combine creating virtual or physical  tours and team introductions with intense information sessions to balance the activities and give new hires a mental break.



Employee onboarding and orientation are both crucial for introducing new employees to a work environment.

Orientation is a one-time event with general steps, while onboarding is a longer training period focusing on individual roles and team integration.

Both processes begin with having a solid and effective HR strategy. From there, you can manage various in-house, in-person or virtual processes, like orientation and onboarding.


Need help creating and managing employee onboarding and orientation processes in your company? Get in touch with Tawzef. Our team is always ready to help.





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