The Difference Between Onboarding & Orientation

It can cost upwards of an employee’s salary and a half to lose that employee – did you know? Aside from actually dealing with losing an employee (not fun!), no one wants to do the real calculation on the cost of losing employees – whether they’re just moving on or they needed to be terminated. In fact, ERE has a great article on how to calculate the cost of losing an employee. Want an easy way to avoid having to do that math?

Luckily for you, there is an easy way to avoid losing most employees. There are certainly instances in which employees leave for reasons that neither HR nor the company can control, but most employees love to stay at a great company when they can. So let’s talk about the first tools in your toolbox to keep them at the company (save salary and benefits!): employee orientation and onboarding. If this sounds a little boring to you, hang on for just a minute. Effective onboarding programs can help you avoid seeing employees search for new jobs with less than six months of experience at your company!

In the grand scheme of hiring and building a company, onboarding is the process of hiring, training, and setting up for success your new employees. Orientation is a piece of onboarding – and is usually the first on-the-job training experience an employee has at the company. The best onboarding programs start far before the employee actually walks in the door: planning a full-circle process that includes effective new position outreach, interviews, offer letters, and paperwork signing all the way to first day, 30 day, 90 day, and one year check-ins is one sure-fire way to cultivate a healthy employee culture. As part of that onboarding process, orientation serves to literally orient new hires to the company, culture, and the expectations they’ll be held to. Orientation is also a great time to help employees get to know each other, the intricacies of the physical place in which they’ll be working, the knowledge management system of the company, and the processes for growing within and beyond their current role and job title.

Setting employees up for success is perhaps the best way to keep them: when people are challenged, rewarded, asked about their thoughts and opinions, they tend to feel more connected to their environments. Like the fictional Elle Woods once said, “Happy people don’t kill their husbands”, happy employees don’t leave their companies! Developing a great onboarding program includes spending time to create an engaging, effective orientation program; helping employees get situated comfortably includes reaping the benefits of happy employees!

Not sure your onboarding and orientation programs are up to snuff? Grab a cup of coffee with me and chat! Email me at anytime!

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Posted by Kristen Gallagher

Kristen Gallagher
Kristen Gallagher is an organizational strategies and learning designer. Specializing in onboarding systems, manager development, and knowledge management, Gallagher delivers programs that are designed to evolve and scale with rapid changes. She is the founder and CEO of Edify and has architected and delivered onboarding programs for companies bringing on just one person a quarter to 50+ people a quarter.

She brings over eight years of learning design, business development, and program operations and strategy to Edify. She guides growing tech companies to create amazing people systems, learning programs, and cultures that scale. Kristen speaks on human resources, human centered design, learning & development in technical environments, and integrated people operations across the country. Informed by her interests in technical product design, art history, contemporary Southeast Asian art, and museums, Kristen brings an iconoclastic approach to designing and implementing learning programs in tech environments.

She's spoken and taught at Learning Dev Camp, ATD Cascadia, ACTW, Refresh Portland, Product Tank, PHRMA, and dozens of other conferences. Effective, efficient programs, events, and strategies are what motivate her, and in every project, she engages teams to understand trade-off’s, make data-driven decisions, and design evolvable solutions.