HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.


What is Employee Onboarding?

Employee onboarding refers to the action of integrating a new employee into an organization by providing the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to be successful in the role.

The onboarding process starts with the background check and involves everything from filling out paperwork to meeting coworkers—and, when completed successfully, is an integral step in employee retention.

Onboarding and Retention

Employee turnover is especially high in the first 18 months of employment, and much of an employee’s perception of an organization begins with the individual’s very first interactions with the company, including the sourcing, recruiting, and onboarding processes.

In essence, how well you onboard employees plays a key role in your employee retention efforts.

Onboarding Compliance

Employers must pay special attention to the onboarding documents necessary to remain compliant with state and federal authorities. Employers should also maintain a careful record of all employee agreements, notices, and onboarding forms. 

The following documents represent most common forms:

  • Form I-9: A document that must be completed by every employee in the United States that is used to verify each employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • W-4 Form: The W-4 is a form that employees fill out so that employers can withhold the correct federal income tax from each employee’s pay.
  • State Withholding Forms: Some states impose income taxes in addition to the existing income tax required by the federal government (W-4 deductions). Each state that withholds this additional amount from each employee paycheck needs to administer a state withholding form to all employees.

What About Online Onboarding?

Onboarding is an ongoing process. Beyond Day 1 and Week 1, direct reports need to remember to keep their new employees engaged and informed, and make sure they feel like they’re part of the team—especially while working remotely. Consider the following:

  • Frequent check-ins and touch points
  • Integrate new hires into culture via video chats

The Difference Between Onboarding and Orientation

Employee onboarding represents a series of introductions and tutorials that help a new employee better understand their roles and responsibilities as well as the company itself. Orientation typically introduces a new employee to a company’s culture and only takes place once.

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