When Does Onboarding Begin and End?

It’s a surprisingly tricky question. Does onboarding start with a job offer letter or earlier, such as during the application phase? Is it finished once the new hire is done with all the HR paperwork? Or, is the process complete after training and orientation when the employee is really pulling his/her own weight?

The difficulty of pinpointing these start and end points can be clarified by categorizing the two types of onboarding. We do that here at Emerald Software by using terms like Transactional and Acculturation to differentiate these processes. Today, let’s take a look at the whole picture from start to finish.

Initial Contact – Acculturation

This is when a potential applicant first hears about your company. That could be through a job posting, from a friend who works at your organization, word of mouth in the community, or via the media. Your HR brand should be evident in each of these “initial contacts”. If candidates hear your company name and think of a great place to work and a business with a passion for delivering great products and services, you have already begun to bring that person onboard, from an acculturation perspective anyway.

Application – Transactional

Filling out a job app is certainly part of the hiring process but is it actually part of new hire onboarding? You may choose to integrate your application software system with your onboarding module. Then, the information in your applicant database can be routed to your hiring manager. The data may be used to generate the job offer letter and pre-complete many of the fields in the virtual new-hire packet. Check out this diagram showing how the entire transactional process works.

Job Offer and New Hire Paperwork – Transactional

This is the part of the process where HR is heavily involved – but it is brief. You have to collect data, ensure compliance, and send data on its way to back-end systems. Provisioning (making sure employees have the stuff they need to do their jobs) is also done at this stage or before. If it is taking your organization longer than a day to complete the transactional part of the process, there is room for streamlining (see part 2 of our Easy Mondays series for tips!)

Orientation, Training, Mentoring – Acculturation

The acculturation phase is more subjective and therefore more difficult to quantify. When your new hire has become a fully productive member of your team, acculturation can be considered complete. We’ve got a diagram for how that works too (see here). This process can happen very quickly or take many months.

One way to speed employees to productivity is by collecting and analyzing data through your acculturation portal. This allows you to see how your overall strategy needs to be altered to achieve a better outcome. Jeff covers the topic of when acculturation onboarding ends in more detail at his blog along with practical advice for how to achieve this objective.

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