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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Onboarding

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is a human resources industry term referring to the process of introducing a newly hired employee into an organization. Also known as organizational socialization, onboarding is an important part of helping employees understand their new position and job requirements. It’s the process that helps them integrate seamlessly with the rest of the company. There are many activities that go into the onboarding process, from the job offer to team training. Onboarding may last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, but the most effective onboarding usually lasts at least a few months. Ideally, employees will feel confident and competent when the onboarding process is complete.

What Are Onboarding Activities?

Onboarding consists of multiple individual processes; however, it has no official definition and opinions still vary as to which processes fall under the umbrella of onboarding. As listed in the BambooHR Definitive Guide to Onboarding, onboarding can include the following:

  • Job offers

  • Salary negotiation

  • New hire paperwork

  • Policy and culture training

  • Job training

  • Employee handbook training

  • Benefits paperwork

  • Benefits education

  • Facility tours

  • Executive introductions

  • Team introductions

What Is the Onboarding Process for a New Employee?

One thing HR professionals generally agree on is that onboarding begins the moment a candidate accepts a job offer and ends when a new employee is fully integrated and performing as expected. Whether or not an organization provides all of the onboarding elements in the list, it’s a wise investment to provide all new employees with a thorough, efficient, and consistent introduction to their new organization.

Research shows that the quality of onboarding experienced by new employees dramatically impacts engagement, performance, and longevity, among other factors. The best onboarding processes will include relational onboarding, which includes: 

  • Setting expectations

  • Building relationships with other employees

  • Creating confidence and trust

  • Creating a clear definition of roles and boundaries

Starting a new job can be overwhelming, and onboarding is most effective when it is spread out over time. This allows employees to better retain information by giving them time to process everything and ask questions as needed. 

How Long Does Onboarding Take?

There is no strict rule about how long onboarding a new employee should take. However, it’s important to be thorough in this process if you want to maximize employee engagement and minimize employee turnover. Many companies have an onboarding process that lasts only a month or a few weeks, which risks new employees feeling overwhelmed with their new responsibilities and not connecting with the rest of the company.

Many HR professionals recommend that an onboarding process should last about 90 days, while some professionals recommend extending the process for as long as a year. This ensures employees have the resources they need to get to know the company, internalize their training, and feel comfortable doing their job as expected.

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