Saturday, July 18, 2009

Onboarding vs. Orientation?

Onboarding vs Orientation??

That is the question. With so many buzz words floating into the HR space, I wonder how many of them will stick.

One that will get my vote is Onboarding, which is defined as the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating and accelerating new team members who comes from either inside or outside of the organization. Some might think that this could be a one day course of action, when in reality it should be an ongoing process. When done right, it can improve talent retention, drive productivity and build a shared culture. More importantly it drives long-term organizational success.

While serving as Vice President Human Resources/Organizational Development, my team and I gave this question a lot of thought. After thorough analysis and assessments, we designed a program called "Onboarding Day 2 and Beyond". The trust of this program was designed from Day 2 in the new employee career cycle. Each manager was trained on the importance of integrating the new employee into their team, from setting up mentors, setting goals and expectations and having that importance conversation about performance etc.

I presented this program and the outline to a group in New York called the HR Network (Five O'Clock Club) in New York. The attached link is a newsletter article based on that presentation.

My comment is that Onboarding will be and should be with us forever, at least in companies that take talent management seriously. It should be the cornerstone of any talent management model and should cover new hires, in house promotions as well as new executive talent coming into the organization. The overriding goal of this process is to get new team members up to speed so that they can begin delivering results faster.


  1. Ron,

    Great points. Agree with everything you've said. Onboarding must extend well beyond day one. It also needs to start will before day one.

    As you suggest in your gardening analogy, deciding on the right plants, preparing the ground, and planting the seeds are just as important as what happens after the seeds sprout. The most effective onboarding begins with the hiring manager getting everyone aligned around the new role before starting to recruit and then managing the process through the ensuing stages of onboarding.

    We describe this in detail in our new book "Onboarding - How To Get Your New Employees Up To Speed In Half The Time". There's a downloadable executive summary on our site -

    George Bradt
    PrimeGenesis Executive Onboarding

  2. Sherry from linkedinJuly 24, 2009 at 10:06 AM

    Thank you for the defining the two. I am new to the HR field and I have noticed in job descriptions the word onboarding and assumed that it was the same as orientation. Again, thanks for the clarification.

  3. Now i got clear difference about these things..Before reading this article i thought both are same i got clear...

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