What is the difference between onboarding and induction?

January 25, 2022

The interview is done. You’ve chosen the best match for the job role and their start date is fast approaching. Induction and onboarding are two key processes for welcoming someone new to your team, but they often get mistaken for each other. So, what is the difference between onboarding and induction and why do they both matter?

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the process that introduces new employees to your business culture and ensures that they’re equipped with the tools and information to perform their roles. It starts as soon as they accept the job offer, long before their start date. Depending on the job role, the onboarding process can take anything from a few weeks to a few months. It lasts until they’re fully trained and settled, ready to start performing in their role. It involves education integrated with support.

How to enhance your onboarding process?

  • Don’t wait until their first day – Get the ball rolling as soon as they accept their job offer and showcase your business culture from day one. Show them you’re excited for them to start. A 4-week notice period is a long time, so keep communication flowing between the job offer and their start date. Have a quick paperwork turnaround and never leave them in the dark. Provide them tasks to complete such as scanning identification documents and reading their employment contract.
  • Prepare – Your onboarding process should include defined steps, so you are fully prepared for the new start’s first day. This could include printing them off a key card for access to your workplace and, organising a laptop and phone for them with everything installed, ready to use. This preparation won’t go unnoticed. It shows an efficient and caring business culture.
  • Tailored timetable – Every job is different, so onboarding shouldn’t look the same for everyone. Structure the entire onboarding process with a personalised timetable. The new start can see what training they will receive during the onboarding process. Space out information-heavy training sessions to not bombard them with too much information.
  • Make it interactive  – No one enjoys reading policy after policy at a desk alone. Find interactive ways to train the new start. Consider using training videos – visual content is processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.  Assign different parts of the onboarding process to different colleagues so they can simultaneously meet new people.
  • Check-in – Most importantly, regularly check in with the new start. Ask them how they’re getting on and make sure they have everything they need. Invite them to ask questions and after the onboarding process ask for some feedback.
A manager receives feedback from her onboarding and induction processes

What is induction?

Induction is the process of welcoming new employees and helping them settle into their new roles and working environment. This is the time to give them a tour around the workplace, introduce them to everyone, and tell them key health and safety information.

How to enhance your induction process?

  • Preparation – A seamless onboarding process sets the foundation for the perfect induction. Contact the new start before their induction, informing them when to come in and what to bring with them. Having these details settles the first day nerves.
  • Ease first-day nerves – Settle those first-day nerves by making the new start feel welcome. Greet them at the door and escort them to their desk. Someone from your tech team should be available to help them get set up on their new devices. Once they’re set up start introducing them to the rest of the team. Consider having a team lunch to give them a chance to get to know everyone better in a more relaxed social environment.
  • Cover all bases – Make sure your new start has access to key information to help them get settled. This includes basic things like where the toilet facilities are, the best entrance/exit to use, and who to contact if they need any assistance.
  • Use a buddy – Pairing up your new start with someone from their department can transform their first day. That person can answer department-specific questions that your HR team can’t. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) describes “the new employee who is made to feel part of the work group gains more confidence and is likely to become more productive faster.”

Induction in action

Picture this. It’s your first day. You walk into the office to be greeted by new teammates who introduce themselves and wish you well. Your laptop is ready and set up to go. You have a timetable for upcoming training, and you’re given a tour of the office. This is a company that makes a new person feel welcome and a valued part of the team. Employees who are made to feel welcome are more likely to perform better and stay with the company longer.

The difference between onboarding and induction is a new starter receives their tour during the induction

Onboarding vs induction

Onboarding vs induction – who wins? The truth is onboarding and induction both matter. They have different end goals and purposes:

  • Induction – The purpose is to welcome the new person without overwhelming them. Inductions provide the new start with essential information and sets a base for them to transition into their new role.
  • Onboarding – Onboarding is the complete transition from being a new starter to a fully trained member of the team. The purpose is to prepare the individual to perform in their new role and ensure they have support.
A new settled employee within her department

Why does onboarding and induction matter?

Increases staff retention

New employees are more likely to be committed if you take the time to train them and make them feel at home. Increasing staff retention is vital because a high staff turnover is costly and can hinder business performance and productivity.

The danger zone

There’s a “danger zone” between making a job offer and the start date. Counteroffers and doubts might lead to the new employee dropping out before their start date. This is a crucial time for a company. Start engaging with the new start as soon as they accept the job offer to avoid them dropping out. Make them feel welcomed, valued and excited before they officially join the team.

A diagram showing the danger zone between the job offer and first day.

So, what is the different between onboarding and induction?

Induction is a one-time event that introduces a new employee to the company. Onboarding, on the other hand, is an umbrella term for the whole process from the moment they first sign the contract. It’s a series of events and training sessions, including the induction, that helps the new start adjust to their new role and become a successful employee.

Onboarding and induction are both crucial when welcoming new starts to your team reducing staff turnover and driving team performance. Find out how our onboarding software can help streamline your onboarding processes and enrich your team.