Onboarding, Induction, Orientation and Training – What’s the Difference?

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Onboarding, Induction, Orientation and Training – What’s the Difference?

Onboarding, induction, orientation, and training may seem like similar processes; however, you must know the difference between each of them to make better hiring decisions. Having distinct procedures for all four will also provide new hires a smoother transition as they become acclimated to their new job. Induction, orientation, and training are all different educational procedures that are integral parts of all onboarding programs.

Onboarding Employees


Onboarding focuses on integrating team members into your company through a combination of education and support. You should regularly meet with new hires to hear their concerns, provide feedback and answer questions. Offering your employees consistent support during the onboarding process can improve retention rates by 82% and productivity by over 70% [1].

Onboarding starts the moment your new hires sign their contracts and accomplishes all the required employee paperwork. We call this the pre-boarding phase. Pre-boarding should consist of you sending a welcome email to your new employee, introducing them to your company’s culture, emailing or talking to current employees about new hires (and their soon-to-be teammates), and preparing them for their first day by setting up their workstation and keeping them up to date on new tasks and projects.

Employee onboarding is not limited to when new hires physically begin the job but usually takes place up to several days before a new team member physically walks through the door. Organisations do this to make sure everything is in place before a new recruit even arrives. This will help streamline the process and sets the stage for the next steps.

A successful onboarding program helps Human Resources ensure that each new hire understands their contract, has adequate role clarity and enjoys a smooth transition into the business even before they even officially begin.

Onboarding vs. Induction

The next phase of the journey is induction. The easiest way to think of induction is to think of it as introducing your organization to the new hire in person. Induction starts during the pre-boarding process and will only last for a short amount of time on your new employee’s first day.

Induction usually includes a presentation or brochure on company policies, sharing rules and benefits, and keeping them up to date on any current projects they’ll be working on. You’re likely to have more dialogue with your employee during this time as well. For the most part, you’re providing them with all the information on both their new role and their place in the business.

This is also where you can directly address any questions or comments they might have about company policy, processes, expectations, and employment.

Onboarding vs. Orientation


If induction is introducing your new employee to your company and to you as an employer, then the orientation process is the dialogue you have immediately after. Orientation begins on your new hire's first day of work and typically only lasts a few days at most. A good orientation program equips new team members with everything they need to know about the company on the very first day.

Employees will take the information they learned during induction and use that knowledge during the orientation to better understand the company, team culture, and their role in the team. At this time they also make connections with their new co-workers and team members, meet their supervisors, and acclimate to their new work environment.

While onboarding and orientation may seem similar in several aspects the difference is mainly in when they happen in the process. Onboarding vs. orientation is akin to pre-boarding for a flight vs. the safety guidelines and informational talk you get when you are already seated in the plane.

Onboarding vs. Training


After a successful induction and employee orientation, your new recruit is ready for training. Training typically lasts a few weeks, although some positions may require more time. This is when your employee is going to learn the tools of the trade of their new position in addition to what is expected of their work. This stage typically begins when employees are assigned their first assignments and ends after their completion.

There’s a delicate balance between giving your new hire adequate work to introduce them to their new position and your work expectations and overloading them to the point where they feel overwhelmed.

No one likes to feel like they’re stretched too thin, and just like orientation, your employees' first assignments are their introduction to you, your expectations, and your workplace. Regularly check in with your new team members during their first week to make sure you’re all on the same page.

What comes after induction, orientation, and training?


Induction, orientation, and training are all important steps in the overall onboarding process. Orientation and onboarding are essential in giving your new employees the best possible start and integration into the organization, while proper training will help them grow and reach their full potential.

But should it end there? Not if you want to do your best to ensure your new hire's success. A typical onboarding program lasts about six months and after the initial induction and orientation during the first several days, training and feedback become the next focus.

After all, training doesn't end as soon as the employee has all the information they need to do their job. People managers should still focus on providing employees support and education regularly to help them expand and grow. The potential for growth and even eventual promotion are strong drivers of employee satisfaction within an organization and can also go a long way towards improving hire retention.

Feedback and satisfaction surveys are also another important aspect of the sustaining period. You should regularly meet with new hires to hear their concerns, provide feedback, and answer their questions. Offering your employees consistent support during onboarding can improve productivity by over 70%.

And finally, provide ongoing support. This is important for all your employees, but especially your new ones. Schedule feedback meetings to go over employees’ progress and goals, listen to their comments and concerns, and work towards solutions if problems arise.

Why is this so important? A whopping 72% of new employees find one-on-one time with their direct manager the most important experience they can have during the onboarding process. Don’t be afraid to ask your new employees about what worked (and what didn’t work) during the onboarding process. Remember, sometimes a set of eyes from the opposite side of the table can help you streamline and improve your process.

How do you prepare for employee onboarding?


Preparing your onboarding plan may feel daunting, but you have much to gain from creating a streamlined and efficient process. Not only are you more likely to retain employees and save money due to low turnover rates, but you’re also going to build more meaningful relationships with your employees. They’ll want to continue working for you because they love their job.

The best way to prepare for onboarding is by addressing the essential Four C’s: Compliance, Clarification, Culture, and Connection. Meeting Compliance requirements includes teaching a new employee basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations. Clarification refers to ensuring that new hires understand their new jobs and all related expectations. Culture is a broad category that includes providing a sense of organisational norms and allowing associates to learn more about your company’s identity, mission, and values. Finally, Connection refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish, such as a central calendar or an encrypted channel of communication with HR. You can learn more about these features of Qualee here.

In conclusion, a clear understanding of the difference between onboarding, induction, orientation, and training, will allow you to create a more effective and all-encompassing onboarding experience for your new hires. This in turn has a significant impact on their productivity, job satisfaction, and retention, ultimately affecting overall business success.

Finally, provide on-going support for all your employees, but especially your new employee. Schedule feedback meetings to go over employees’ progress and goals, listen to their comments concerns and work towards solutions if problems arise. Why is this so important? A whopping 72% of new employees find one-on-one time with their direct manager the most important experience they can have during the onboarding process [2]. Don’t be afraid to ask your new employees about what worked (and what didn’t work very well) during the onboarding process. Remember, sometimes a set of eyes from the opposite side of the table can help you streamline your process.

Many companies have successfully integrated Qualee’s mobile-first solutions to streamline their onboarding process. With an intuitive app driving employee engagement, Qualee makes it easy for companies to create engaging and effective onboarding experiences. Give Qualee a try by joining our Starter Plan today!


[1] https://b2b-assets.glassdoor.com/the-true-cost-of-a-bad-hire.pdf
[2] https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/onboarding/2017/5-things-new-hires-want-during-onboarding

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