Employee Onboarding

Sudarsan Pathak

Finding the best candidates in a particular position is only a part of building a team. The process of employee onboarding is one of the critical factors to ensure the newly hired staff align with the company guidelines, become productive and perform as a team. In Nepal’s context, employee onboarding is often understood as the process of completion of formalities on the first day of joining of an employee which actually is only a very small part of the process. Many companies especially SMEs actually do not even bother with complete documentation which at many times can create trouble. Many people even confuse themselves with employee induction, orientation, and onboarding. While many companies have a great staff recruitment process, many still conflate induction and orientation with onboarding. Doing so can actually be a loss of opportunity where the company may fail to set the right tone for its new recruit which may ultimately impact performance and even retention. Hence, it is very important to know the difference between these three different stages and ensure the completion of each stage for setting up a proper organizational rhythm for the employee.

Employee Induction: It is a process of welcoming a new team member to the organization. It’s the first impression of a new recruit towards the company. It might start from greeting and welcoming the new staff and completion of further first-day formalities. It further includes the complete documentation of the employee which is prior informed to him/her to bring in on the date of joining. It might also involve a couple of hours of presentation on the organization, its structure, culture and vision/mission/core values. Induction is a short-term event that normally ends in a day. It may further include the employee’s introduction with other colleagues, providing welcome kit/gifts, a brief office tour and probably sharing of welcome lunch/tea. This process helps the new employee settle his/her nerves and feel comfortable on the first day. Very importantly, this process will also help the new recruit understand the company’s vision/mission and core values in general. This will help him/her understand what discipline is expected from them to meet the organizational attributes.

Employee Orientation: Employee orientation is normally the second stage of staff onboarding which can last up to a week. This process is to help the employee understand the company’s policies and guidelines. The employees are briefed/trained about the different general processes like payroll, travel policies, health and safety policies, and other matters related to compliance. It might also include role/department-specific familiarization of policies like sales policies for the sales staff and other software/system-related support. Employee orientation will help the employee understand and follow the different SOPs of the company so that s/he complies with the guidelines and ensure no non-compliance within the organization. Employees who know what to expect from their company’s work culture and environment make better decisions.

Further, the employee is briefed about his/her roles and what deliverables are expected from them during this process. A further familiarization session might take place with the co-worker and clarity is made about the roles and responsibilities among the team. This will help to clarify possible confusion among the team and enable better functioning as a team.

Employee Onboarding: Employee onboarding is the umbrella term of the entire process which covers the journey of a recruit. It starts from the pre-boarding process to a certain time (up to a few months or even a year) until the employee settles with his/her new role. Employee induction and orientation are a part of employee onboarding. In a broader term, employee onboarding is a process of integrating a new employee with the company and its culture as well as providing the recruit with all the tools and information to become a productive member of the team. It’s a strategic process that lasts for a certain time because how the new employee is handled for the first few days and what they experience in the first few months are the key to an employee’s long-term performance and retention.

To summarize, onboarding is a comprehensive process of sharing knowledge, communicating core values, developing connections within the team, making aware of compliances and ultimately transforming the recruit into an empowered, confident and performing staff. Induction and orientation are important elements of the onboarding process which primarily reflect on the new job experience. An employee who has gone through a proper onboarding process is likely to perform well, be a team player and be retained for a longer period of time.

Further, it is also important to understand the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders during an onboarding process. The general understanding is that it is the HR department that is responsible for the employee onboarding or few even say employee onboarding is everybody’s responsibility. However, it may also differ from organization to organization as every company may have its unique style of onboarding.

In general, the stakeholders mentioned below play a core responsibility in employee onboarding.

HR Department: The HR department ensures a proper welcoming of the new employee, completes the documentation and does a general orientation to the employee. They also organize the office tours, educate the recruit on the core values.

Training Department: If the organization has a separate training department, they will provide required hard/soft skill training. It also supports the employee on any specific requirement of efficiency development.

Supervisor/HOD: After the general job introduction from the HR department, it is the immediate supervisor/HOD who takes care of the employee on job/performance-related settlement. They make sure the recruit properly understands the job requirement, develops good relationships within and outside the team.
Colleagues: Sharing how the group works as a team and supports when require, colleagues can always turn themselves for required support and help the new one settles his/her nerves.

Management/Executive Team: Executive team can help the employee understand the company’s vision, mission, core values, strategies and objectives. They can also review/assess performance, provide real-time feedback and extend top-level support to achieve organizational goals.
The employee onboarding process or the checklist can also differ to different audiences. The content might be different based on job responsibilities and functional hierarchy. Such contents can be tailor-made based on the employee’s deliverables.

To sum up, organizations must understand the importance of proper employee onboarding. It is very important to ensure that the new employee is comfortable, happy and engaged. Companies should also ensure that the recruit is not overwhelmed with too much information and complicated formal processes. Hence this process has to be well designed, timed and executed. However, though many companies especially MNCs and corporate houses already have a well-planned onboarding process, it’s time for the rest companies too to step up and prepare an onboarding manual. This process holds the strength to be a decisive factor for a company’s success or downfall.

Pathak is Senior Manager- Human Resources at IME Motors Ashok Leyland Nepal.

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