Employee orientation vis-a-vis employee onboarding

Emmanuel jinda

A LITANY of words exists today in the world of business. The simple reason is today businesses want to be associated with excellence and efficiency, whether it is its processes or products. Notwithstanding the meaning given to each of these practices by a business, all these initiatives involve employees in the organisation and this is why communication remains a key factor in any organisation.

This article will highlight the importance of communicating and mentoring employees at the point of joining an organisation.Despite the benefits associated with a well-planned orientation programme, there appears to be a startling level of confusion between an employee onboarding programme and employee orientation. Most organisations do not seem to have a clear distinction between these two and often the words tend to be used interchangeably.

The problem extends beyond just semantics in that it could mean the difference between fully integrating a new employee into an organisation to becoming a productive team player. Yet the two processes are equally important because lack of a proper induction programme leaves employers lacking the full buy-in from the new appointees. It is therefore critical that all organisations get the distinction between employee orientation and onboarding right so that they create appropriate programmes for each role.

Employee orientation serves as the first phase of an employee onboarding programme as it seeks to induct the new employees to organisational policies, procedures and the new workplace. This process must be concluded within the first few days after someone has been hired. It should be done over a short period but not so comprehensively to talk about performance expectations and evaluation parameters but rather talk about working breaks, benefits and other housekeeping matters.

Employee orientation therefore becomes a critical talent management process aimed at introducing a new employee to their jobs, co-workers and cultures of an organisation.

Successful employee orientation programmes help new employees to become familiar with the organisational environment as well as helping them to understand their responsibilities. If properly done employee orientation contributes to job satisfaction, moral building and job enrichment. Through this process an employee is spurred to become the best employee possible while convincing them that they made the correct decision to joining an organisation.

In addition, employee orientation has a strategic role of converting a great starter into a stellar employee. Using orientation programmes an employee should have all the requirements spelt out as well as painting a picture of their work contribution to the entire organisation.

Employee onboarding programme has a broader and more comprehensive reach than employee orientation. The strategic role of this process is to reduce the period between hiring a new employee and the time they reach to maximum expected level of performance. This is a critical process on helping the employee to settle and focus on their performance. A well-thought-out onboarding programme will take time and needs a lot of commitment but it does indeed yield a lot of returns.

Unlike orientation onboarding, a newcomer must be for at least half a year. How an employee handles experiences during the formative months at the new workplace is very crucial to attaining high retention in the long run. It is through onboarding programmes that an employer can develop successful and committed relationships that are beneficial to both the employee and the organisation.

The programme has a lot of individual mentoring and HR support. Such a process has proven to be more successful as compared to the sink or swim approach that other organisations adopt. Here is a 4Cs guide when developing and implementing an onboarding programme.

Compliance where the employee learns the basic legal and policy issues and regulations for their professional practice
Clarification — making sure the new employee understands the requirements of their job, the expectations and key deliverables of their jobs
Culture is the broadest category which involves equipping the employee with the established organisational norms which include both the formal and informal routines

Connections are a vital ingredient of the onboard processes that connects all elements. The interpersonal relationships as well as information networks needed by the new employee if they are to thrive in their new role.

These four pedals should be used by organisations to stand a better chance of reaping the benefits of an onboarding process. An important element offered by an onboarding process unlike orientation is social integration. This is when a new employee gets the acceptance of their co-workers which if done well leads to successful adjustment marked by high quality relationships. Finally, the knowledge culture exhibited after this process will show the level of fit between the employee and organisational culture.

Jinda is the managing consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of professional HR and management services. — +263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit: www.proservehr.com.

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