Editor notes: This blog article has been updated on February 6, 2023
Onboarding, in a nutshell, is a comprehensive, 2-way process designed to share knowledge, communicate values, build connections, and manage compliance to transform new hires into confident, empowered team members and ambassadors.
Good onboarding spans the entire new hire lifecycle and touches on a myriad of topics and techniques, some of which are still newly developed concepts.
In this definitive onboarding dictionary, we’ll be defining each and every facet of onboarding. From preboarding to crossboarding, offboarding, and beyond!
We’ll be covering standard industry terms, as well as some more advanced terms that we’ve explored over our 10 years working in the onboarding space.
So read on, study up, and become an onboarding expert today!
To help you on your way, we’ve developed a key to give each word context and clarity within the wider onboarding world.
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6 Cs of Onboarding
The 6 Cs of onboarding refer to the 6 core components of onboarding HR leaders need to consider when building (or rebuilding) an effective new hire journey. They are the building blocks of good onboarding.
Compliance | Legal
Refers to completing all paperwork and administrative tasks involved with bringing a new employee into your organization. This step covers everything from setting up direct deposits and benefits to creating logins for email and other company tools needed for the job.
Clarification | Performance
Is about expanding the new hire’s understanding of the job. The goal for this step is to clarify performance expectations and responsibilities both for the new hire and for his/her manager and team members.
Confidence | Empowerment
Means empowering new hires with the tools and support needed to succeed in their new role. This step includes clear objectives like training but also covers more intangible things such as positive reinforcement.
Culture | Values
Covers teaching employees the spoken and unspoken “rules of the game” at your organization. As they absorb your culture, they will discover ways to navigate and successfully achieve their work objective.
Connection | Relations
Dedicated to helping new hires feel like a part of the family. In this step, employees integrate into their new team and begin contributing to the company’s mission.
Checkback | Closing-the-loop
All about gathering feedback from your new hire at critical moments during the new hire journey to ensure they are happy, healthy, and thriving in their new role. Checkback allows HR and Managers to course correct, identifying areas where a new hire is excelling, and areas for improvement.
Explore the 6Cs of onboarding >>>
Activation rate is a term used by digital onboarding providers to indicate the number of onboardees who log-in at least once to their onboarding portal or app. Some organizations use the activation rate as a way to measure employee engagement.
API | Application Programming Interface
An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a software ‘middle-man’ that allows two applications to talk to each other. In other words, an API is a messenger that delivers your request to the provider that you're requesting it from and then delivers the response back to you. Onboarding software developers use APIs to integrate 3rd party applications with their own software.
ATS | Applicant Tracking System
An ATS, or Applicant Tracking System, is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment and hiring needs. An ATS can be implemented or accessed online at enterprise or small-business levels, depending on the needs of the organization. In onboarding, application tracking systems are most often discussed in relation to their compatibility with digital onboarding solutions. The best digital onboarding solutions can utilize an API to integrate with a range of ATS’ to facilitate the flow of information between the recruitment and onboarding lifecycle stages.
Attrition is the rate at which employees leave your organization.
Automating onboarding means digitizing labour-intensive processes, such as new hire documentation, data collection, workflow assignment, and content delivery.
Employee onboarding automation in 2023 >>>
Buddy | Buddy System
A buddy system is a knowledge-sharing method used in onboarding. It involves assigning each new hire a workplace buddy. The buddy is an existing employee who guides the new recruit through the first few weeks or months on the job.
Onboarding buddy guide >>>
Cloud-based computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. Modern employee onboarding systems are usually ‘cloud-based’, allowing users on-the-go access.
Content-driven is an approach to onboarding that puts storytelling at the forefront. A content-driven onboarding journey uses interesting, varied content (such as training videos, interactive quizzes, deep-dive articles, and more) to engage and educate onboardees. It represents an understanding that your new recruits are intelligent, capable people who want more than just an orientation PowerPoint presentation and a guided tour of the office.
Onboarding content ideas for HR leaders >>>
Content Delivery System
A content delivery system is a piece of digital infrastructure used to deliver information to your onboardees at specific times during their onboarding lifecycle. This ensures employees aren’t overwhelmed and receive relevant information when they need it most.
Crossboarding happens when an organization utilizes an existing employee to fill a job vacancy instead of hiring an external candidate. The process helps to equip the internal hire with the necessary skills and competencies to perform in the role, and (if applicable) introduces them to a new team, department, and social ecosystem.
Crossboarding can also be used to describe the process of re-integrating employees into a new company structure following a merger or acquisition.
The importance of a good crossboarding process >>>
As the name suggests, digital onboarding is when an onboarding process is powered by technology, allowing it to take place predominantly online. Good digital onboarding utilizes automation, saving time for HR and streamlining the onboarding process. Digital onboarding helps HR departments to spread the new hire journey out over a longer period of time, leveraging the preboarding phase to provide a more comprehensive support system for new employees.
Build and launch a digital onboarding program in 5 easy steps >>>
`To elevate onboarding means capturing learnings and key measurements, both positive and negative, from your new hire journey and then applying them for better business performance in the future.
Learn to elevate your business with employee onboarding >>>
Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to their organization, and go over & above what is expected of them in their day-to-day role. Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Good onboarding is proven to increase employee engagement by up to 33%, and organizations with an engaged workforce outperform their competition.
Employee satisfaction is a measure of how content an employee is with their job, whether they like the job as a whole, but also individual aspects of the job such as the nature of work or supervision. Employee satisfaction is not the same as employee engagement and does not necessarily provide any insight into employee performance.
Experience-based Onboarding [Proactive Onboarding]
Experience-based onboarding places the focus on the candidate’s journey from the moment they accept their offer until they are fully integrated into the company. Experience-based onboarding marries process and engagement for a seamless new-hire journey.
Get the facts on experience-based vs. process-based onboarding >>>
An employee transition is any moment when your people move from one phase of the employee lifecycle - to the next. It could be a fresh recruit joining your organization (onboarding), a new parent returning to work from parental leave (reboarding), a gifted individual making an internal move (crossboarding) or a soon-to-be ex-employee departing your organization (offboarding).
Learn more about employee transitions
Filters are used in onboarding to digitally segment your employee base. They enable HR to deliver different content to different onboardees based on a range of employee attributes such as job title, department, or global location.
Try this example: New hire Jane works for Company X in their London office. Company X sends an automated email to all new hires the day before their first day, with information on parking, public transport routes, and nearby lunch options. As the organization has 4 office locations, they set up a ‘Location’ filter that ensures Jane only receives London-specific content.
Hybrid apps are essentially web apps that look like native apps. Once they are downloaded from an app store and installed on a device, they use an internet browser to connect to a web-hosted version of the application.
See also ‘Native App’ and ‘Web App’.
Integration | People
In onboarding, an employee is considered integrated when they have a strong understanding of their job and responsibilities, a growing social connection to their team and the wider organization, a good grasp of company policies, and can navigate the spoken and unspoken rules of their new workplace. Onboarding ends when a new hire is fully integrated into an organization
Employee integration secrets from top companies >>>
Integration | Software
An integrated onboarding solution is software that can communicate with your existing HR framework and systems, to form a streamlined digital HR ecosystem.
Talmundo’s employee onboarding software is designed to integrate with a range of different software systems and can easily be connected to your current HR tech stack.
Explore the Talmundo integration marketplace >>>
Induction is the process of welcoming a new team member into the fold. It might involve a PowerPoint presentation on team culture, a meet-and-greet with relevant co-workers, and maybe even a buddy system to ease first-day nerves. Induction is short-term, it’s usually a one-and-done activity completed on a new hire's first day.
Explore the difference between induction, orientation and onboarding >>>
Internal benchmarking is the process of looking within your own organization to try and determine the best practice or methodology for conducting a particular task. In onboarding, internal benchmarking is often used to compare the new hire processes of different departments and locations, to see where improvements can be made.
Manager onboarding is the process of bringing an employee on board in a management position. This can be either as a new hire or as part of an internal promotion. Successful manager onboarding takes into account the needs of a new manager and delivers additional support at an operational and leadership level.
A native app is a software program that is developed for use on a particular platform or device. They are installed through an application store (such as Google Play or Apple's App Store). As they are developed specifically for one platform, native apps are able to take full advantage of all the device features - they can use the camera, send notifications, access the GPS, and so on. Native apps require the development and maintenance of stand-alone iterations for each operating system (iOS, Linux, Android, etc), and are more prone to compatibility issues than web or hybrid apps.
See also ‘Hybrid App’ and ‘Web App’.
Offboarding, or ‘employee exit management’ is a process that comes before the formal separation of an employer and their employee, whether voluntarily or otherwise.
A robust offboarding process should smoothly transition the employee out of the business, facilitating the sharing of knowledge with other employees and ticking compliance and privacy boxes. Offboarding can also help protect an organization's employer brand and give HR departments insight into their company's problem areas.
Discover more offboarding content >>>
Similar to the 6Cs of onboarding, these 5 touchpoints outline the most important components of an effective offboarding or employee exit management program.
A | Assessment
Has the departing employee given feedback on their time with the organization?
B | Brand
Has the departing employee been empowered to be a positive future brand ambassador?
C | Compliance
Is the departing employee legally prepared to leave the organization?
D | Dignity
Has the organization supported the departing employee to leave with dignity and respect?
E | Expertise
Has the departing employee’s specialist knowledge been shared and/or documented?
Explore the offboarding ABCs >>>
Onboarding is an umbrella term that spans the full new-hire journey. From signing their contract, and landing on Day 1 [preboarding], during their first days and weeks on the job [induction & orientation], until they are fully settled in their new role - whether that’s 3 weeks, 3 months or even a year [integration].
The purpose is to deliver an ongoing, all-inclusive experience that builds loyalty and confidence, transforming your new hires into confident, empowered team members, and ambassadors.
All about good onboarding >>>
Onboarding Lifecycle / Journey / Process
These are three terms that all refer to an employee's onboarding experience from signing their contract until they are fully integrated into their new organization.
See what the onboarding journey looks like with Talmundo >>>
Onboarding software is the supporting digital infrastructure of a modern onboarding process. The best onboarding software supports experience-based onboarding, uses automation to free up time for HR, and can manage onboarding across multiple locations and departments simultaneously.
What to look for in an onboarding software solution >>>
Orientation is the process of familiarizing new hires with company policy and guidelines. An effective orientation should get your new hire up to speed on processes, paperwork, and the general administration of your company. Orientation is a short-term activity, often done and dusted by the end of a new recruit's first week.
Explore the difference between induction, orientation and onboarding >>>
Preboarding is the process of engaging your new hires from the moment they accept a job offer until their first day on the job. The process should alleviate new hires' first-day fears, give them the tools to be up & running faster, and ultimately drive engagement and retention. Effective preboarding is an essential part of a greater onboarding puzzle.
Why preboarding is so important >>>
Process-based Onboarding [Passive Onboarding]
Process-based onboarding is an antiquated form of onboarding, where priority is centred exclusively on ticking administrative boxes and managing compliance.
Get the facts on experience-based vs. process-based onboarding
A standard pulse check is delivered digitally to a new hire at key intervals during onboarding in the form of a mini ‘quiz’ where the onboardee can rate an experience out of 5. Pulse checks are an easy way for HR departments to gauge an employee’s feelings for, or understanding of, an aspect of their onboarding journey.
Reboarding is most commonly applicable to staff members who have been away from your organization for an extended period, be it for medical purposes, parental leave, or secondment. It is designed to re-familiarize your returning colleagues with your company, bring them up-to-speed on relevant changes, integrate them back into the culture of your workplace and empower them to get back to ‘business as usual’ as soon as possible
Learn how to reboard your employees effectively >>>
Reinventing onboarding means taking what you’ve done in the past, and turning it on its head with fresh, engaging ideas. From building strong onboarding stories, tailored to your new hires’ needs, to creating journeys that are experience-based, content-driven, and consistently delivered across your entire organization.
Learn how to reinvent your onboarding with Talmundo >>>
Remote onboarding is an onboarding journey that happens exclusively out-of-office without direct face-to-face contact. It is most commonly used by organizations hiring staff who work out-of-country. During COVID-19 remote onboarding was used extensively to onboard new staff when traditional measures became impractical due to lockdown orders. Many organizations had a lot of success with this approach and are now open to remote-onboarding staff on a regular basis.
Remote onboarding for remote and hybrid employees >>>
Employee Retention refers to your organization's ability to hold on to its employees. Retention is ‘cultivated’ by an employer by maintaining a working environment that supports current staff in remaining with the company. Good onboarding is proven to increase new hire retention by up to 82%, and organizations with a high employee retention rate can save millions in net revenue.
Learn how to retain top talent in 2023 >>>
Seasonal onboarding is the process of investing time, effort, and budget into an onboarding journey for non-permanent employees including contractors, interns, and holiday staff. An effective seasonal onboarding program will help safeguard an organization against long-term reputation damage and revenue loss.
Time-sensitive content is content or information required by an onboardee at a specific point in their onboarding lifecycle. The company dress code is an example of time-sensitive content. A new hire requires this BEFORE they land on day 1 to ensure they can dress appropriately.
Time-to-productivity is a measure of how long it takes a new hire to contribute to an organization. It is influenced heavily by two main factors; the overall candidate experience and the effectiveness of an organization’s onboarding program. Good onboarding is proven to increase time-to-productivity by up to 70%, and organizations with a short time-to-productivity curve see dramatic reductions to their bottom line.
Web App | Web Application
A web app is a software program that is accessible using any web browser. On a mobile device, web apps are accessed through the mobile's internet browser and don’t require users to download or update them. Web apps have the advantage of being accessible by any user, from any device or platform with minimal compatibility issues, and can be set up to mimic the appearance of a native app on most devices.