What is the difference between onboarding and induction?


he words ‘onboarding’ and ‘induction’ are often used interchangeably. Or, you may have found that some companies you’ve worked for only use one or the other exclusively. 

Have you ever wondered what the difference between onboarding and induction is?

While the two share many similarities, there are some differences that may affect how you introduce and acclimate your new employees.

Free resource: The Ultimate Guide to Onboarding

What is induction?

Induction is the process of training an employee on their first day or first few days. An induction is predominantly task-focused, and typically includes:

  • Paperwork finalization.
  • Assignment of access keys, workspaces, devices, software logins, and uniforms.
  • Office, grounds, and/or worksite tour.
  • Emergency evacuation procedures.
  • Safety training and compliance training.
  • Equipment training.

Induction is also commonly used on construction, warehouse, and industrial worksites to refer to specific safety training and the explaining of worksite rules.

What is an induction? Learn how to induct employees to worksites.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of assimilating new employees into the workplace culture and training them to reach full productivity in their roles.

Onboarding can begin as early as during the hiring process when role descriptions and interviews are used to establish working and cultural expectations.

Onboarding in the first week of a new hire’s employment involves many of the same tasks as an induction, however additional emphasis may be placed on social aspects, such as:

  • Meeting colleagues and managers.
  • Training on company values and the company mission.
  • Company-funded lunch with team members.
  • Mentoring or buddy systems.

Onboarding concludes when a new employee has reached full productivity, and when their conduct reflects the culture of the company.

What is the difference between onboarding and inductions?

While there are many similarities, there are also some key differences between onboarding and inductions.

Inductions typically last one day and rarely last more than one week. By comparison, onboarding can begin before a person’s first day and last for weeks or months.

Inductions can be heavily focused on “tick-box” tasks, such as paper and compliance training. Onboarding is more focused on cultural assimilation, social relationships, and reaching full productivity.

Induction vs onboarding: which should you choose?

You may be wondering which approach is right for your company, or if your company’s current approach is the best.  

Companies that have high turnover are more likely to take an induction-based approach with their new employees, whereas companies with lower turnover and more highly paid staff are likely to take an onboarding approach.

This is because a long onboarding can be costly for businesses. However, onboarding has long-term benefits, including better retention, better team cohesion, and greater staff productivity and satisfaction.

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between either inductions or onboarding. While onboarding processes already contain many aspects of induction, there are ways to bring the positive aspects of an onboarding process to induction without breaking the bank.

Induction vs Onboarding. What are the advantages and disadvantages of onboarding and inductions?

3 cost-effective ways to improve your inductions

If you’d like to introduce aspects of onboarding to your induction process, here are some tips to do so in a cost-effective manner.

Invest in online training

Online training is essential for businesses looking to make their onboarding and induction processes faster and cheaper.

With an online training platform like HowToo, you can quickly and easily create training courses to automate common, repeated parts of your induction or onboarding. HowToo comes with course templates for onboarding and inductions, and ready-to-go courses on workplace safety, security, and other compliance topics.

Online courses are 3x faster to complete than face-to-face training sessions and can be sent to new hires even before they begin their first day, freeing up the rest of your team to do their jobs. They are also highly flexible, as your new employees can complete their training on any device, anywhere.

You can also use online training to introduce your company’s values and mission in a fun and interactive manner.

Assign a buddy

While some companies establish fully-fledged mentoring programs for their new employees, it’s possible to reap many of the benefits with far less effort.

Instead, try assigning a buddy for your new hire. This buddy should be a team member from their team, with a similar role or equal standing in the company. Then, schedule a 10-15 minute session between the new hire and the buddy for every morning of the first week.

These buddy sessions allow your new employee to ask questions they might feel embarrassed to ask their manager, as well as provide an easy way to build team relationships. Choosing a buddy who is a positive representation of your company’s desired culture can also help to implicitly communicate that culture to your new hire.

Improve your inductions by organising a team meal on your first day.

Eat together

While you may not have the budget to buy a meal for everyone, a team lunch on the first day is still an important way to help your new hire socially integrate. Let the rest of your team know when your new employee will be joining, and the time and place at which everyone is expected to meet.


Onboarding and inductions can seem both very similar and very different at the same time. Many businesses have fallen into one style or the other without thinking about what the right approach might be for their business. 

However, with quick tips like introducing online training as part of your process, you can bring the best of both worlds together quickly, easily, and cost-effectively.

Free onboarding checklist: The ultimate guide to onboarding. Download now

Feb 23, 2022

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