Employee induction and employee onboarding are NOT the same

June 6, 2019 in Employee Induction



Employee induction and employee onboarding are NOT the same

We – Human Resources and Learning and Development people – often use ‘onboarding’ and ‘induction’ as interchangeable terms. But are they really the same thing?

In this article, we examine why your organisation may be better off treating employee onboarding as different from employee induction.

Onboarding is tactical

The process of a new employee joining your organisation has many steps. However, several of those steps are largely for the benefit of your organisation. Collectively, these are ‘hygiene’ issues which involve a lot of form filling by the employee, such as…

  • Employee contact details
  • Superannuation and payroll information
  • Workplace and IT access
  • Training, education or employment records
  • Agreement to organisation policies

These items are still important – employees can’t get paid without providing payroll details! Certainly, any onboarding process needs an efficient and reliable way to complete these steps.

Yet, these items are tactical in the overall scheme of things. They enable an employee to commence work, but they really do nothing to help that employee actually work – to do their job. They certainly don’t help an employee do their job better, avoid common mistakes, become productive faster or feel part of the team.

Induction is strategic

Employee induction is a much broader experience. If onboarding helps an employee enter the door to your organisation, induction takes employees on a tour of your organisation!

Induction is a more engaging and active process, for both employee, their manager and the organisation. Induction seeks to ‘make a new employee behave like an experienced employee’. This requires more effort than some simple form filling.

That being said, induction is not a requirement. Many organisations have only onboarding – their employee induction experience is actually just employee onboarding. It is the basics – the legal or regulatory requirements and nothing more. Employees gain the functional basics to do their job, perhaps without ever learning how to actually do their job.

Onboarding is a first step only

If your organisation can separate onboarding from induction, it may allow you to take a better approach to your new employee experience. You can start to think of onboarding as merely the first step in an employee induction program. Steps covering organisational culture and values, key safety training, training on important behavioural standards and training on initial on-the-job skills and processes can then follow.

By labelling onboarding for what it is – getting a new employee ‘on board’ – it helps the organisation realise that employee induction is more than form filling. It is more than a problem for HR. It is an organisation-wide responsibility where all teams have important roles to play.

Words may seem small, but the labels they provide matter. Next time you are meeting with your executive management or team leaders, why not rephrase the discussion from tactical onboarding to strategic induction?