Guide to employee onboarding terminology


The terminology that’s used to describe the management of new hires can be confusing.

Is it onboarding or preboarding?

Does it include induction...or orientation?  


Here’s the webonboarding guide to an overview of some of the key terms within the employee onboarding process.


This covers all of the HR processes that are required to integrate a new hire into an organization. The onboarding process starts from the moment a job offer has been made and will typically end with induction.

The exact period of onboarding and the processes it covers will vary between companies. For some HR departments, onboarding ends on a new starter’s first day in the workplace, for others it includes induction.

The tasks covered include management of:

  • Contract and offer letters
  • Reference checks
  • Payroll and pension details
  • Compliance policies and approvals
  • Guides and welcome packages
  • First day admin preparations
  • Induction/orientation/socialization


This is a term that’s used to specify just those HR processes that take place before a new hire starts. Using this definition, onboarding would start after an employee begins and include areas such as induction.

This distinction between HR tasks carried out  before and after a new hire starts is becoming increasingly blurred. The use of cloud-based onboarding management systems provides more control over how and when onboarding processes are completed.


This is a programme of activities that’s designed to welcome new hires into a new role and integrate them into the wider organization. The form induction takes varies greatly but will generally include:

  • Health and safety training
  • Finalization of paperwork
  • Guided tour of workplace
  • Introductions to key staff

Alternative terms used for induction processes include orientation and employee socialization. Elements of induction can feature in the onboarding process before day one, for example by issuing pre-reading getting this processes started sooner.


The level of connection that an employee feels with their employer. A lack of engagement means employees are liable to feel disconnected and demotivated - it can lower productivity, increase absenteeism and employee turnover. The onboarding experience plays a crucial role in determining engagement. A smooth, positive and welcoming process will maximize the benefits of engagement.

Regulatory Compliance

The steps that an organisation takes to ensure they comply with the relevant rules, policies and laws. These can be rules that are set internally or they can involve external legislation. Onboarding plays a critical role in company compliance - ensuring that people entering an organization know exactly what’s required of them. Compliance demands vary between sectors but typical areas include health and safety and data privacy.

Real-time Processes

This refers to cloud-based ways of working which allow information to be shared instantly. An example of a real-time onboarding process is the use of digital signature to sign employment documentation. The completed paperwork is instantly available to HR, as opposed to paperwork that’s handled via the postal service.

Cloud-based Onboarding System

A cloud-based system means that it’s available on-demand, as an online service. It means no software has to be downloaded to individual devices and the services accessed from an online connection. This provides significant advantages for onboarding with HR teams being able to instantly access digital information without the need for paperwork to be physically transported.


This refers to the collection and management of company information to show particular aspects of business performance. With reporting tools integrated into a system such as webonboarding, HR can easily access onboarding data.

Dropout rate

This is the number of chosen candidates who do not complete the onboarding process. Generally, the longer onboarding takes, the higher the risks are of candidates dropping out. This can be as a result of receiving a better offer elsewhere or dissatisfaction with their onboarding experience. Closely related to this is the problem of ‘ghosting’. This is when candidates drop-out by simply failing to respond to any communications. An effective onboarding operation will reduce the dropout rate.

Find out how webonboarding can support your new hire onboarding processes and contact us here

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