On-boarding and orientation are terms which are often used interchangeably; however, they are not actually the same thing. An orientation is a one-time event which is meant to introduce new hires to the organization, and to convey important information of a more general nature, such as policies and goals. You can find information about planning your chapter’s orientation here. An orientation is just one component of the on-boarding process.
On-boarding is an ongoing process that can last for weeks, sometimes even months. It is meant to help new volunteers better connect with the organization, as well as with their teams. On-boarding will clarify the duties and expectations of volunteers’ roles, which in turn will help volunteers perform their roles better, increase their engagement and commitment to SOS, and will ultimately help your chapter retain your best volunteers. On-boarding ideally should start before new volunteers begin their roles.
Some potential ideas for on-boarding new volunteers:
- Email departments and returning volunteers the names of new team members so that they are familiar with them by the time volunteers start work
- Include information about the new volunteer’s role and their team in the welcome email
- Have department VPs sit down with the new volunteers to discuss their expectations of the new volunteers, as well as the volunteers’ expectations while volunteering with SOS – what do they hope to get out of this experience?
- Assign new volunteers a mentor who can show them the ins and outs of the role, provide them with information about team norms, and to answer any questions they may still have about the role – check out this article for more information on team norms
- In addition to the orientation event, have a department meeting at the beginning of the semester so new volunteers can get acquainted with the specific department and their team
- Check in with new volunteers from time to time to see how they are settling in – do they have any questions about their role within the chapter? Is their experience volunteering with SOS meeting their expectations?
On-boarding provides many benefits for an organization, so ensure your chapter has a process in place to help volunteers adjust to their roles.
If you have any questions about on-boarding and orientation please email Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org