Onboarding vs. Training: How to tell the difference?


When it comes to welcoming new team members into your company, onboarding and training are both essential processes to ensure their long-term success. However, confusion can arise when it comes to distinguishing between these two terms, as although on the surface they seem similar, they play crucially different roles.

Both onboarding and training are key processes in their own right, which complement each other while focusing on different objectives. Understanding their differences will not only help you to maximize the potential of new employees, but also ensure that they transition smoothly into their new roles. So, if you’re looking for clarity on the interplay between these two fundamental concepts during the new worker integration process, then read on to discover more.

The key differences between onboarding vs training

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when attracting and retaining talent is to assume that ‘the job is done’ as soon as a new candidate becomes a full employee. Success in staff retention and improved productivity actually depend on several factors beyond just the hiring process. One of these factors is labor integration, which covers both onboarding and training. So, let’s take a closer look at how these two concepts differ.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding (also known as the incorporation process) aims to familiarize a new employee with the company’s culture, values and practices. It is an immersive process that allows the new team member to understand the big picture of the organization and forge meaningful connections with their colleagues.

Onboarding is a process with several phases, including induction, orientation and even training (yes, training!). It usually starts from the moment new employees are hired and seeks to create a good first impression as they enter the new environment. 

What is training?

Training focuses on the development of specific knowledge and skills required in the workplace. It constitutes a crucial phase within the onboarding process, although unlike onboarding which begins immediately after hiring, training begins once the employee has acclimatized to their new work environment.

Training is essential to ensure employee productivity. It provides the tools employees need to develop all the skills and knowledge related to their job responsibilities. Companies that provide quality training to their employees gain various benefits, such as maximizing worker potential and reducing levels of frustration and anxiety. They also ensure a higher rate of employee retention.

Onboarding vs. Training: A Practical Example

To better understand these two terms, let’s imagine that a technology company has just hired a new software developer. During the onboarding process, the new employee would be introduced to the company’s work culture. They would also meet their new teams of colleagues, as well as get to know various internal processes and receive initial guidance on their duties and responsibilities.

Later, during the training process, this employee would then begin to receive specific training on the company’s software development tools, as well as any programming languages they may use.

As you can see, these two complementary processes are essential for the long-term success of both employee and company. In fact, according to Glassdoor’s study, “The true cost of a bad hire”, organizations with solid onboarding and training processes can improve the loyalty of their new employees by up to 82%, and their productivity by up to 70%. These figures highlight the importance of investing in both effective onboarding and training, in order to maximize the potential of newly acquired talent and ensure organizational growth.

Now, let’s review the differences between onboarding and training:

Onboarding Training
Focuses on familiarizing the new employee with the wider company Focuses on the development of skills and knowledge
Its objective is to integrate the employee into the new culture and team It aims to enhance the skills and competencies of the employee
Begins immediately after signing the contract Begins a few weeks after the employee's first day
Provides information on the company’s organizational culture, values, mission... Provides technical knowledge and tools, teaches skills and concepts...

The importance of continuous employee training

The continuous training of employees is a fundamental process that should form part of any company’s growth and development strategy. Keeping staff updated and properly trained is essential in order to remain competitive and relevant, in a world where technology and digitalization is constantly advancing by leaps and bounds.

Through training, not only are employees’ technical skills and knowledge improved, but additionally, soft skills are strengthened. These latter are critical today for job success. Moreover, continuous training fosters an ongoing sense of commitment and satisfaction at work. Employees with access to good training and development opportunities tend to feel more valued and engaged in their work, which improves both talent retention and productivity.

Good practices for combining onboarding and training

Now that you understand how onboarding and training complement each other to create a comprehensive experience for new employees, it’s time to learn how to implement strategies to combine these two processes in the most effective way:

1. Make training continuous

Training shouldn’t be just a one-time event at the beginning of a new job, but rather an ongoing process throughout the employee’s career. After all, learning opportunities continue to appear as new skills and technologies relevant to their role emerge. You can offer this kind of training through courses, workshops, conferences and online learning tools.

2. Establish training habits early on during onboarding

Onboarding is a process that can last several months, starting from the moment the employee joins the company. Integrate well-defined training sessions into this process to set clear expectations about the importance of professional development from day one. This will help you to foster a culture of continuous learning from the very beginning.

3. Carry out frequent check-ins and collect feedback

Conduct regular check-ins to evaluate employee progress during training, and gather feedback on the effectiveness of your development programs. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to continually adjust and improve the training process.

4. Create an onboarding checklist

Compile a detailed checklist that covers all aspects of your onboarding and training, from initial orientation to job-specific skill development. This will not only create transparency on both sides of the process, but also ensure that no important elements are overlooked, so that each employee enjoys a truly high-quality experience.

5. Involve the whole team

Foster a culture of support and collaboration by involving the entire team in the onboarding and training process. Co-workers can provide invaluable guidance to newcomers, and share the benefit of their knowledge. This is also a great opportunity to implement buddy onboarding programs into your team.

6. Diversify your training techniques

You can utilize a wide variety of training methods, such as in-person classes, online courses, mentoring, mobile learning and even gamification to enhance the learning experience. Today, there are many learning styles in existence that can be easily adapted to different types of students.

7. Don’t be afraid to automate processes

Implement technological tools and platforms that streamline and automate parts of the onboarding and training process. The delivery of training materials, progress monitoring, and evaluations are all ideal candidates for automation. The right types of tools can even help you streamline processes such as initial paperwork, so that new employees can focus all their attention onto their training, without having to deal with administrative distractions.

A reliable platform needs to support both onboarding and training

When it comes to effectively integrating onboarding and training into your business, having a reliable platform is key. Imagine a comprehensive solution that not only makes it easy to introduce new employees to your company culture and practices, but also offers a whole host of training resources to develop skills and competencies.

With isEazy Engage, you get exactly that, and more. Our platform is designed to offer a complete onboarding experience, spanning from a new employee’s very first day and aiding professional growth throughout their career. Combine its powerful features to design the perfect onboarding process for your employees.

You can target the pre-onboarding phase, cover training during workflow, as well as provide all the guides and resources your new employees need. Plus, gain access to all types of microcontent and gamification, designed to increase employee participation and reinforce learning. Request a demo today and get your staff hooked from day one!

Cristina Sánchez


Cristina Sánchez

Digital PR Specialist at isEazy

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