This is both the final step in the recruiting process and the first steps that the individual takes as a part of your organization. When employers do this badly, good people (whom they spent a lot of time and resources to find) leave the organization. Or worse, they wish they had left but continue to collect a paycheck from you while they keep their eyes open for new opportunities.
Be prepared for the new person before they start their new job, and then be ready to provide them with a welcome so that they start off on the right foot. This means that their workstations are ready (whether this is a cubicle, a position at a cash register, or the cab of a truck), people know they are coming, and that orientation forms are ready for them to sign.
People take from two to six weeks to decide whether they have made a good decision in starting a new job. Your job is to engage their interest and commitment during the recruiting process, which might be well before they actually start work with you. If they arrive on the first day and cannot enter the building because they do not have an access pass, things are already off to a rocky start. The orientation period includes that critical first week or two that the person is on the job, while they adapt to their new surroundings, and get familiar with their position and the team.
Onboarding is something we look at with a slightly longer lens than orientation. Onboarding is about the development of the individual’s career within the new environment. Depending on the job itself, it can take from six months to a year or more for someone to feel fully competent, which may include experiencing a full cycle of the business. Your responsibility in the onboarding process includes providing the newcomer with appropriate feedback, ensuring that they are developing the skills and expertise to succeed (which benefits your organization), and that they are engaged in the work they are doing.