Onboarding: definition and meaning

Onboarding: definition and meaning

What is corporate Onboarding of new employees? Often among Recruiters and Human Resources Managers there is confusion about the real meaning of this term. With this article we want to provide a clear definition of what is meant by Onboarding.

Onboarding: definition and meaning

Onboarding refers to the post-hiring process that involves the integration of a new employee into the company.

Onboarding represents one of the phases of the recruitment process (the last one) and ideally follows the Attraction and Evaluation phase. During the Onboarding phase the new employee should acquire all the knowledge, skills and learn the behaviors to become an integral part of the company, both at organizational level and in terms of corporate culture. Only when all these elements are in place can it be said that the integration of new employees into the company has been successfully completed.

What is the objective of Onboarding newcomers to the company? The strategic objective of this phase is to provide the new employee with all the tools to be fully operational, integrated with the company structure and productive, so as to ensure good performance over time.

Differences between Onboarding, Orientation and Training

In some companies, Onboarding is often confused with Orientation. But – although Orientation is certainly necessary – the Onboarding process is more complex and, unlike the former, can last much longer (even 12 months).

The concept is also different from “Training,” although the terms are often used interchangeably. However, the difference is important, as Experience Academy founder Michel Falcon clarifies: “Onboarding new employees into the company is the structuring of what the employee will hear, see and listen to once they are hired. Companies often confuse onboardong projects with training. While training does play a role in the Onboarding process, it is but a small part of a larger process designed to build a connection with the company.”

Why is Onboarding important?

Onboarding is of fundamental importance for an organization and is closely related to the issue of employee retention (ability to keep talented employees in the company), but also to their engagement and performance.

Why is the phase of welcoming newcomers to the company so critical? The data provides some interesting insights: according to Wynhurst Group’s research on Onboarding, when an employee goes through a structured Onboarding process, they are 58% more likely to stay with the organization after 3 years (employee retention).

Another study published by the Academy of Management Journal, done on 264 new hires, found that a new employee’s first 90 days on the job are critical to building and cementing a relationship with the company, colleagues and company management. When leaders and colleagues provide support from the very beginning, then a good attitude toward the new job will be built and the employee will work harder. Conversely, if support and guidance are lacking, then it is easy for the new employee to become unproductive and unmotivated in a short period of time. This page shows the results of the study.

How to onboard a new employee

Building a successful onboarding project is not easy, and too often the importance is underestimated. First and foremost, it’s critical to define the Onboarding strategy (what to do) even before the choice of actions and tactics (how to do it).

How to start? By asking yourself the right questions. Here are some examples:

  • When precisely should the Onboarding process begin?
  • How long will the Onboarding phase last?
  • What impression does the company want to leave on the new employee at the end of the first day on the job?
  • This is a good way to ensure that the new employee is aware of the company’s culture?
  • What role will the human resources (HR) department need to play in the process?
  • What role will colleagues play in the Onboarding process?
  • What metrics will be measured to assess the effectiveness of the project?

Only when you have a satisfactory answer to these questions will you be able to begin to think about the actions and methods of the corporate Onboarding process.

Steps and actions in the process of corporate onboarding of new hires

An Onboarding process can include: meetings with the team and direct supervisor, training, printed materials, e-learning, videos. Many Applicant Tracking Systems have built-in functionality for managing Onboarding.

But it is important to consider Onboarding not just a routine or administrative activity. It’s important to be aware that everyone (HR, Management, Colleagues) is responsible for the results of welcoming newcomers to the company.

They are part of this phase:

  • Meeting and welcoming new colleagues
  • Practical and organizational information
  • Tour of the offices
  • Creation of an agenda of activities for the first few days
  • Training on company procedures and policies
  • Technological training on platforms and tools
  • Meeting with the managers and the company tutor
  • Workstation preparation
  • Badges and access credentials
  • Definition of objectives for the first 90 days

Integration between ATS and HR Software for Onboarding

The projects and procedures for welcoming and training a new employee in the company can be greatly simplified by using specific HR software for Onboarding. These allow, for example, to set up training plans to reinforce the skills of newly hired employees, also thanks to interactive and collaborative methods (corporate social networks, forums, chat).

The integration between the Recruitment software used to manage the recruitment process and the HR Software for Onboarding is of fundamental importance. The integration between the different systems allows to have an automatic passage between the candidates’ data that will become employee’s data inside the platform for Onboarding and inside the HR Management Software chosen by the company (HRMS).

Books on the topic of Corporate Onboarding

Are you a Human Resources (HR) professional and would like to learn more about this topic? We recommend 2 readings (in English).

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