You’ve almost got your company ready to open. The only step you have left is to hire top-notch employees who can help you run things. 

Place a description of the position on a job site and wait for the applications to come in. Once you get enough applicants, you can review them and invite the prime candidates in for an interview. 

From there, you’ll begin the employee onboarding and orientation process. Onboarding vs. Orientation. Your company needs both, but what are the differences between the two? 

We’ve got all the information you need on the hiring process right here. Check out this guide to learn more. 

What Is Onboarding?

Onboarding is a detailed process that introduces employees to the departments they’ll be working in. They’ll learn how to use the tools and software that are necessary to perform their job. 

You’ll teach them the ins and outs of their position or introduce them to a shift lead who can. You’ll highlight their responsibilities and give them small beginner projects that they can work on. 

Most of the time, this process takes a course of months to finish up. You’ll need to keep checking in with the new hires to make sure they are settling into their new position well. 

Benefits of Onboarding 

Why do you need a good onboarding program? Can’t you just have the employees sign their paperwork and pair them up with someone in their department who can teach them how to handle things? 

You can, but you’ll be setting the employee up for failure. You need to be the one to show them the ins and outs of the job and help them better understand their role. 

It Sets Goals

When you’re introducing your workers to their department, tell them what they can do to move up in the company. If they have a clear goal in mind, it will increase their engagement. 

They’ll up their quality of work and do what’s best for the company so they can reap the amazing rewards that come with promotions. 

Reduces Job Stress

There’s nothing more stressful than being set loose with no direction. If your onboarding program doesn’t do a good job of showing workers what they have to do, they’ll be too scared to do anything. 

The stress can be enough to send some employees packing. You’ll then have to pay more money to train new employees who are just going to leave like the last ones did. 

On the flip side of this, if you have a great onboarding program that tells employees about their roles in fine detail, they’ll be more inclined to stick around. 

You Make a Good Impression

The onboarding process lasts up to the first 90 days that a candidate is working for a company. During this time, the employee is still trying to decide if they want to stick with the offer or drop the job. 

You don’t want to make the decision easy for them with an onboarding process that’s a disorganized mess. Onboarding is a crucial time when you’re trying to make a good first impression on a candidate. 

It’s easy to do that, but you need to put a lot of work into your program.

Employee Onboarding Guide

Onboarding might be a long process, but it’s not as difficult as you may think. As long as you have a good checklist, you’ll be able to get through it without a problem.  

Make an Offer

Your onboarding process starts as soon as recruitment begins. You’ll write a good hiring description and place it on a job site. Make sure it highlights the role you have available to the letter. 

If there’s any room for interpretation, you’ll have to sift through a bunch of applicants that aren’t qualified. Interview the best candidates, and send an offer letter to the people who are the best fit. 

If the employee wants a different salary than the one listed in the job description, this is the time when they’ll open negotiations with you about that.

There will be a small gap between the offer letter and the employee’s first day while you get the paperwork set up. During this time, you’ll need to stay in constant communication with the candidate to build your relationship with them and get them excited about joining your team. 

Offer Acceptance 

After you present the employee with the offer letter and salary negotiations are over, the candidate can choose to decline or accept your terms.  

If they accept, you’ll get their starter paperwork together. We recommend giving them a packet that includes the employee handbook and a list of forms that highlight your workplace policies. 

You’ll also have to write up the contract that they have to sign and print off a non-disclosure agreement. Many business owners choose to send this paperwork to the employee ahead of time. This way, they can go ahead and get through everything instead of spending their entire first day reading and signing a bunch of stuff. 

No matter what you do, it’s going to take a lot of paperwork. You can go to to learn about programs that can make the process easier. 

First Day Checklist

Your employee is through their paperwork and is about to start their first day. There are a few last-minute things that you’ll need to prepare to make the transition into their new role go as smoothly as possible. 

Send an email to both the new hire and the employees that you already have. Doing so will introduce your current workers to the newbie and make the candidate feel more welcome. 

Once you introduce your candidate to your team, it’s time to set up a meeting with HR. During this meeting, they’ll get their paperwork out of the way and gain access to all the tools that they need to perform their job. 

You’ll give them their workplace email, set up their accounts, give them their parking pass and equipment, and hand them their ID card. 

What Is Orientation? 

Employee orientation is less in-depth than onboarding. It’s meant to give a brief overview of what the company is about and hand your employee their ID card and equipment. 

As you can see, orientation follows some of the same beats as onboarding. They’re not the same thing, but they’re both crucial to the hiring process. 

Benefits of Orientation 

Orientation has a lot of the same benefits that onboarding does. It prevents lapses in communication and helps people better understand their position. 

When people understand their position, they’ll be less stressed out and more inclined to stick around. They’ll provide good employee reviews that will help your company attract more amazing talent.  

What Goes Into Orientation? 

So, what goes into orientation that doesn’t go into onboarding? Does it follow the exact same beats? The answer is no. 

Orientation focuses more on small meetings and doesn’t last near as long as onboarding does. In most cases, employees will only be participating in orientation activities for a week. 

First Day Prep

When the employee comes in on the first day, you’ll get their workstation set up and give them their equipment and supplies. The new hire will get a tour of your facility and meet their fellow co-workers. 

You’ll give the worker a buddy that can go through the orientation activities with them. They’ll get a quick rundown of your policies and learn your mission statement. 

Sometimes, you’ll invite them to go to lunch with the hiring manager. After the lunch break, they’ll finish out their orientation process by attending a series of meetings. These meetings usually go on for a few days. 


The first meeting is with the HR department. They’ll sit down with your new hires and walk them through your employee handbook. 

If your job has a benefits program, this meeting will let your employees know what it is and how they can opt into it. Lastly, HR will go over your workplace culture and tell employees how the company functions. 


The administration meeting will go over all your company policies. Employees will learn about how you handle harassment claims and what counts as harassment. 

The administration will answer any questions employees have about the pay period and how travel assignments work. Most companies have policies in place when it comes to cyber security. 

They’ll get their system login and learn how to protect their passwords. Administration will teach your employees how to use the telephone systems and show them where they can get their supplies. 


This is sort of a general meeting that goes over your company’s basic safety protocols. The new hires will learn what to do in the event of a fire or some other natural disaster. 

The meeting will also show employees how to exit the building in a calm fashion in the event of an emergency. 

Department Specific 

The department meeting varies from employee to employee. They’ll get specific information that caters to their role in the company. 

You’ll select a representative from each department to lead a meeting. They’ll focus on frequently asked questions, and at the end of the presentation, take questions from the new hires. 

Onboarding Vs. Orientation

As you can see, orientation and onboarding differ quite a bit. The main difference is the duration. Again, onboarding begins as soon as you start the recruitment process and keeps going for a year or more. 

Your basic orientation is a lot shorter because the employees are only getting the basics. In most cases, you’ll only keep them in meetings for a week. Depending on what kind of company you run, it may last for a month, but that’s rare. 

To sum things up, orientation is an important part of onboarding. The meetings that the employees attend will set them up for success, but we don’t call them onboarding. 

Do You Pay Your Employees for Onboarding and Orientation?

This is another thing that the two processes have in common. The employee will be coming to work for both orientation and onboarding. 

It’s no different than a regular day on the job except for all the meetings and training sessions. You may have the new hire get their feet wet with the job by performing a few basic tasks. The worker is going to expect to get paid for the effort that they’re putting into their training. 

There’s only one instance where you won’t put the orientation and onboarding on their paycheck. If the training takes place outside of regular operating hours and isn’t work-related, you don’t have to pay them. For example, you can have them clock out for all those lunches and coffees with the hiring manager. 

Set Your Employees up for Success

As a small business owner, the most important part of your company is the employees. Without the right crew, it will be hard for you to get everything done. You can’t run the place on your own, after all. 

The problem is keeping workers around. If you have a disorganized onboarding and orientation program, new hires won’t know how to make the business grow. You’ll be lucky if they even grasp how their role works. 

Onboarding vs. orientation. The two terms get used interchangeably, but as you can see from what you’ve read here, the two can’t be more different. 

There is one thing that is true. Both are important for employee success. 

For more tips that will keep your company working like a well-oiled machine, visit the Business section of our blog.