Onboarding definition

Also known as organisational socialisation, onboarding is the process by which new hires are emotionally, physically and professionally integrated into the established culture and operations of their new employer.

Onboarding often begins before the employee joins the organisation, for example with the dissemination of handbooks and policies before the employment officially begins.

Effective onboarding strategies monitor the employee’s response to the process and ensure that key measures of organisational integration, such as social acceptance and knowledge of culture, are measured and improved upon.

Onboarding theory borrows from organisational psychology – for examples, employees with particular personality traits often integrate more successfully with an organisations’ culture in a shorter period of time.

Some critics say onboarding may reduce clarity of responsibilities as expectations of new employees are lowered while they ‘get used to how things are done.’ Blurred responsibilities during this period may fail to be resolved and place stress on workplace relationships.

Others suggest that the time individuals need to come up to ‘full speed’ will be influenced greatly by the amount of time an organisation providers – this can lead to some high-performers lowering their performance in order to fit in with what is expected of them.

Compare with induction.