Employee Onboarding vs. Training: The Purpose of Each and Virtue of Both

Understanding the nuances in employee onboarding vs. training can help you see the importance of both. Here are the differences and how they work together.

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As an HR representative or hiring manager invested in the employee onboarding process, you’re charged with checking all the proverbial boxes when bringing new hires on board. You’ll also want to ensure your new employees have a positive experience during their introduction to your organization. Research published in late-2021 cited that some 73% of current employees surveyed were considering quitting their jobs due to dissatisfaction. So in today’s hiring and work environment, it’s important to establish a strong connection with employees. Understanding the nuances of onboarding vs. training can help you avoid common mistakes that affect employee retention rates and more.

While the two do intersect, there are clear-cut differences between the onboarding and training processes. Here we’ll explain each and why integrating both into your company culture is essential.

Basic differences in employee onboarding vs. training

The fundamental difference between new employee onboarding and training is that onboarding is strictly for new employees. It involves a relatively short series of steps to get them fully ready to begin and settle into employment.

Employee training, on the other hand, is an ongoing development process for both new hires and existing staff. It may consist of onboarding training, on-the-job training and/or more specialized off-site training. It’s all designed to develop the skills and proficiencies everyone needs to succeed in their job-specific roles.

Essentially, training processes exceed the onboarding phase, helping all employees become more knowledgeable, level up with change, and grow professionally.

How to differentiate the onboarding and training processes

To differentiate between an onboarding program and employee training, it’s helpful to determine which processes fit into each bucket. For instance, a new hire may need general training in your company software and basic workplace protocol. Activities related to this would fall into the “onboarding” bucket. Continuous training is different. For instance, say a new law is passed that impacts compliance, and everyone needs to be brought up to speed. Employers would consider these activities within the “training” bucket.

Here’s a deeper look at each process individually.

The onboarding process

Onboarding is how you bring talent into your fold. It usually involves several stages that commence when your new hire signs the employment contract. This entire stage typically lasts a few weeks to several months. It’s the time it takes to bring your employee to full capacity and relative independence in their new job. The employee onboarding process often includes certain introductory levels of training. Initial steps generally involve:

  • New hire paperwork.
  • Employee orientation.
  • Initial on-the-job training.
  • Meaningful introduction to company values and mission.
  • Equipping the new team member with the tools needed to perform work.
  • Training for required technology.

Investing in onboarding helps:

  • Promote employee retention.
  • Build bonds between employer, new team member, and other employees.
  • Boost organizational and employee morale.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Employee integration with corporate culture.

The items on your onboarding checklist go far toward assimilating talent into their new work environment and creating engagement opportunities.

The training process

While some training may be part of onboarding, it really goes well beyond. A comprehensive training program is about the specifics of a job. It’s a continuous group or individual process of developing skills for both new and existing employees. It can involve:

  • Learning specific job-related skills, concepts, technologies, and responsibilities.
  • Understanding industry and/or workplace procedures employees are required to follow.
  • Gaining in-depth knowledge of the company’s products or services.
  • Receiving new or refresher information about policies and expectations.
  • Understanding fraud prevention and cyber security.

Depending upon the nature of the job, training could take a few weeks or months for getting up to speed. But continuing education is important for any role. Employers, managers, and HR teams are wise to consider investing in it. Training options abound to suit all time and monetary budgets. They span the gamut, from on-the-job training to group workshops and seminars to formal off-site and online classes. To help keep everyone fresh and up to date on vital knowledge and skills, proper training is essential and ongoing.

Onboarding vs. training: Their virtue is their teamwork

You can consider onboarding the “bigger picture,” while training involves the smaller details of an employee’s journey within your organization. Considering the overlap, when developing plans it might be tempting to put more emphasis on one or the other. But the reality is that they’re complementary components to fulfilling the long-term vision.

Integrating training into your onboarding helps new employees get acclimated. Extending it as part of your company culture creates a solid foundation to build upon. It keeps people growing company-wide, through all of employee onboarding, post-onboarding, and even in pursuit of advancement and leadership. The more you nurture your staff, you increase the likelihoods of better productivity, employee retention and satisfaction, and business longevity.

Investing in your employees yields ROI

The recruitment and hiring processes require an investment. Attention and resources devoted to both onboarding and training will often deliver the ROI. And more likely than not, the more you invest in your employees, the more they’ll invest in you.

Learn more from our free comprehensive guide on employee onboarding. For ongoing tips, tools, and other resources for HR and business management, visit Workest by Zenefits daily.

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