Employee Onboarding Dictionary: 45 Commonly Used Terms & Definitions Explained

Appical Team
Khrystyna Fedoruk
November 30, 2023
min read
Table of Contents
With the rapid advancements in technology, it's essential to keep up with the latest trends in onboarding processes. Learn 45 essential onboarding definitions that will help you understand modern-day onboarding terminology better. This dictionary will help you improve your employee onboarding experience, and make the start of a new hire's journey at your company smoother and easier. Let's decode the complexities and embrace the future of onboarding together!

45 Commonly used onboarding definitions explained

AI-powered tools

AI-powered tools are technologies that utilize artificial intelligence to perform tasks traditionally done by humans more efficiently and precisely. These tools use artificial intelligence to help in areas like data analysis, customer service, and automating tasks. They can learn from data, get better as time goes by, and make guesses or decisions all on their own, without needing human supervision.

[.callout-small]Want to learn more about how to use AI in onboarding? Check out our Appical AI page.[.callout-small]

ATS (Applicant Tracking System)

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that helps companies manage the entire recruitment process. Tasks that can be performed with the ATS include creating and publishing job vacancies, inviting candidates, rejecting candidates, searching for talent, tracking, emailing, etc.


Attrition is when people leave their jobs at the company and aren't immediately replaced. It's a normal part of work life, and it can happen for many reasons. Sometimes people retire, other times they choose to resign, or they might be let go. It can be beneficial by making room for fresh talents but high rates might indicate deeper issues in the organization.


When talking about onboarding, a check-in is like a scheduled catch-up session. A moment for new employees to sit down with their managers or HR to see how things are going. They can talk about their progression, clear up any confusion, and make sure everything is going as planned with their onboarding. It encourages constructive feedback, promotes engagement, and helps spot and solves problems early on.

Content-driven onboarding

Get ready for a seamless start with content-driven onboarding! This method revolves around providing new employees with valuable and captivating content. Imagine resources like manuals, videos, guides, and tutorials that help newcomers familiarize themselves with the company's culture, policies, and tasks. The goal is to offer easily understandable, consistent, and comprehensive materials that enable them to quickly adapt to their new environment.


Crossboarding refers to the process of transitioning existing employees to new roles within the same company. Similar to onboarding, these activities help to reduce stress, expand knowledge, and prepare employees for lasting success in the new position. Crossboarding is a great way to keep talented employees happy and engaged by providing them with growth opportunities, while also saving on external hiring.

Data-driven onboarding

Data-driven onboarding uses measurable data and metrics to enhance and customize the onboarding process for new hires. By using analytics, employers can track and measure onboarding success, identify improvement areas, and continually refine the process. This approach facilitates more effective onboarding by tailoring it to individual needs and maximizing employee performance and engagement.

Digital onboarding

Digital onboarding is the process of using online tools and technologies to welcome new hires into the company and help them quickly adapt to their roles. It can involve the use of online documentation, videos, training modules, and interactive tools to help new hires understand their job duties ad company policies and connect with their new colleagues. By using digital tools, organizations can streamline the  process, personalize it, make the information more engaging and accessible, and foster productivity from the very beginning.

[.callout-small]Check out the ways you can enhance your digital onboarding with Appical.[.callout-small]


E-learning is an education system that utilizes electronic technologies, typically over the Internet, to access educational programs outside of traditional classrooms. It includes various formats, such as web-based tutorials, online courses, videos, and quizzes, allowing learners to study at their own pace and flexibility.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment an employee has toward their organization and its goals. When employees are engaged, they're more productive and help achieve great business results. Engagement not only encompasses satisfaction, but also active involvement, enthusiasm, and alignment with the company objectives.

Employee lifecycle 

The Employee Lifecycle tracks a person's path in a company, from getting hired to leaving. It follows steps like hiring, training, growth, staying, and leaving. Understanding this lifecycle can help companies improve employee experiences, enhance job satisfaction, and boost overall business performance.

Employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is a crucial aspect that focuses on the contentment and happiness of employees feel in relation to their jobs and work conditions. It is a crucial aspect of the overall employee experience and can have a significant impact on their motivation, productivity, and loyalty to the organization.

Employee transitions

Employee transitions are phases of change in an individual's employment journey, including promotions, role switches, or departmental shifts. Successful management of such transitions generates seamless adjustments and fosters employees' continued growth and development.

Executive onboarding

Executive onboarding focuses on assimilating high-level leaders, such as C-suite executives or managers, into a new organization. It is particularly important for executive positions, as they play a crucial role in driving the culture, values, and vision of the company. The goal is to ensure that executives are well-equipped and prepared to contribute to the success of the company.


Gamification adds game-like features and fun activities to work processes. This makes things more enjoyable and interactive while boosting motivation, engagement, and learning. This ultimately enhances the overall employee experience. One of the ways to introduce gamification is using VR in your onboarding.

HRIS (Human Resource Information System)

HRIS is a centralized digital platform that automates, processes and manages various HR functions. The types of tasks it tackles are recruitment, payroll, and employee records. It can also be helpful with streamlining administrative tasks and providing insightful data analytics for decision-making.

Hybrid onboarding

Get the best of both worlds with hybrid onboarding! It's all about combining digital tools with face-to-face interactions to onboard employees who work both remotely and onsite. Hybrid onboarding tackles unique challenges that a traditional onboarding process may not cover. With the anticipated growth of hybrid models from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024 (AT&T), it's becoming increasingly important to integrate hybrid onboarding practices in organizations.

Inclusive onboarding

Inclusive onboarding promotes diversity, equity, and appreciation for employees' different backgrounds, skills, and needs. It's all about designing programs that acknowledge, value, and support every individual throughout their onboarding journey. 

[.callout-small]Read this blog for ideas on how to make your onboarding process more inclusive.[.callout-small]


Induction differs from onboarding, as it is a one-time event, while onboarding is an extensive process that lasts 3 months. Induction aims to introduce new hires to their organization's basic policies, procedures, culture, and work environment, covering essential information while easing their transition into the company structure. It usually happens on the first day, and can last up to 5 days.


Software integration is the process of connecting two software applications using APIs, enabling them to share information and provide updates to each other. With a digital onboarding platform like Appical, you can simplify the employee journey and save time on repetitive HR tasks by integrating it with everyday tools like HRIS, ATS systems, or other software solutions like e-signing.


ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. Being certified by the ISO indicates that your business has undergone an independent audit and has demonstrated conformity to the latest quality process standards set by the International Standards Organization. For onboarding platforms, the ISO 27001 certification is important, which focuses on information security management systems. 

KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)

KPIs are measurable values used by companies to track their progress toward specific goals. They help teams understand how well they are doing and make informed decisions. In simple terms, KPIs are like scorecards that show if you're on the right track. When it comes to the onboarding process, it is beneficial to measure and set goals based on key metrics such as the engagement rate (eNPS), new hire retention rate, and onboarding app completion rate. 

Line manager

A line manager is a person who directly oversees the work of employees and is responsible for their performance. They're often the first point of contact for workers and handle day-to-day management tasks. 

LMS (Learning Management System)

An LMS is a digital tool used for organizing, tracking, and providing online learning and training. It helps in delivering educational courses or training programs. Overall, it's a way for companies to create an educational hub and manage learning in one place.


Offboarding is the structured process of an employee's departure from a company. It includes essential steps such as knowledge transfer, exit interviews, and administrative tasks. The goal is to ensure a positive and professional experience as they transition out of the organization.


Onboarding is the process of introducing new employees to the company. It is an umbrella term for the entire journey that the new employee goes through. Good onboarding helps your new hires succeed and feel comfortable while incorporating them into the organization's culture and policies. It's all about making them effective and contributing members of the team.

Onboarding Automation

Onboarding Automation means using technology to streamline and standardize the process of integrating a new employee into an organization. Automated tasks might include paperwork, compliance training, and role-specific orientations. This process not only increases efficiency but also enhances employee experience by allowing them to get up to speed quicker and more effectively.

Onboarding buddy

An Onboarding Buddy refers to an existing employee who acts as a mentor to new hires during their onboarding. This individual offers guidance, support, and camaraderie, assisting newcomers in navigating the company landscape and building connections. This process helps foster an immediate sense of belonging, greatly enhancing the overall onboarding experience. New employees who meet their buddies 8 times during the first 90 days are 97% more productive (SHRM).

 [.callout-small] Check out our onboarding buddy toolbox to find our more[.callout-small]

Onboarding journey

The onboarding journey covers the entire duration of an employee's initial integration process - from recruitment to full assimilation, factoring in preboarding, orientation, training, and ongoing support through regular check-ins.

Onboarding milestones

Onboarding milestones are key checkpoints or achievements set up by the new hire together with the manager to measure progress, evaluate the success of integration efforts, and help identify areas for improvement to enhance the onboarding journey.

Onboarding platform/app

An onboarding platform or app is a digital tool that facilitates and streamlines the onboarding process. It allows you to share information, apply interactive learning, communicate, and track progress. The major advantage is that you can inform and involve your new employee from the moment they sign on, and the new employee can decide when to engage with it.


While orientation and onboarding are related processes, they have different scopes. Onboarding has a broader focus and goes beyond integration into the team and the role. Orientation serves as the initial phase of the onboarding program and aims to provide new employees with crucial information about the company, their roles, policies, and any administrative requirements they need to fulfill. It sets the stage for a seamless transition into their new position.

Personalized onboarding

Personalized onboarding tailors onboarding experiences to an individual's unique background, learning preferences, specific job roles or location, facilitating a customized learning path and a more meaningful integration process.


Preboarding is the key to a successful onboarding process. It all starts before the new hire's first day, bridging the gap between when they sign and when they start. During preboarding, employees can complete paperwork in advance and also learn about the organization and get to know colleagues. This makes the new employee feel more welcomed, informed, and excited to be part of the organization right from the start!

Pulse check

Pulse checks are periodic evaluations that gauge a new employee's well-being, progress, engagement, and satisfaction during their onboarding process, functioning as a mechanism for continuous feedback and improvement.


Reboarding targets employees returning to the workplace after an extended absence, such as parental leave or a sabbatical, ensuring a smooth reintegration by addressing changes, updating skills and knowledge, and reinstating supportive relationships.

Remote onboarding

Remote onboarding is the process of integrating new employees who work remotely, employing digital tools and virtual interactions to deliver customized learning experiences, connectivity, and guidance throughout the remote work journey.


Retention focuses on strategies that reduce employee turnover and foster loyalty, primarily through an engaging work environment, growth opportunities, recognition, support, and job satisfaction.

Seasonal onboarding 

Seasonal onboarding applies to temporary employees, focusing on quick assimilation into an organization during high-demand periods. It efficiently covers essential policies, roles, and training unique to the temporary nature of the job.


Storytelling is a powerful tool in the onboarding process as it provides context and emotionally engages new hires. By incorporating storytelling in your onboarding process, you can help your new employees learn about your organization's history, values, goals, successes, and challenges. It's a way to convey complex information in an entertaining way, inspire, and make it easier to remember the information. Through storytelling, new employees understand the 'why' behind the company and can become more motivated to contribute to the continuation of its story.

Time-sensitive content

Time-sensitive content refers to onboarding materials needing to be delivered within specific time slots. With the main benefit of not overwhelming new hires with information. It optimizes the employee learning experience by providing relevant and critical information when most needed. For example, provisioning the information about necessary documentation or dress code, office address, and lunch options in an appropriate time frame for the employee to prepare.


Time-to-productivity refers to the duration it takes for an employee to reach optimal productivity, influenced by factors such as onboarding, training, resources, and cultural integration.

Welcome kit

A welcome kit is a resource package given to new employees, that typically includes branded merchandise, essential documents, and introductory materials, signaling a warm welcome and fostering early engagement with the company culture and values. 

7Cs - Compliance, Clarification, Confidence, Culture, Connection, Checkback, Creativity

These are the building blocks of a good onboarding process, as outlined by Talya Bauer. Let's quickly go through them:

  • Compliance: Tell your new employees about all the crucial legalities, company policies, and security protocols. These early efforts can prevent beginner mistakes and make it easier for them to adapt to your company's way of doing things. This approach helps them feel safe and confident.
  • Clarification: Amplify the confidence of your team by clarifying what their role entails, the team dynamics they would be a part of, and the objectives they should aim for. Such transparency breeds confidence, enabling them to perform their best.
  • Culture: Show the necessary parts of your company culture. Let them know about things like the dress code, important company values, and the mission statement. This helps them align their goals with the heart of the company.
  • Connection: Connection plays a crucial role in employee retention and engagement during the onboarding process. It involves creating meaningful relationships between new hires and their colleagues, management, and the company as a whole. Strong connections enhance workplace collaboration and contribute to a successful onboarding experience.
  • Checkback: Onboarding is a marathon, not a sprint. Periodic check-ins provide valuable insights into the experiences and challenges of your new employees, fostering engagement. This way, you can further enhance your onboarding experience.
  • Confidence: Cultivating a culture where new hires can express their ideas freely, find their voices, and have the confidence to tackle complex problems can yield innovative solutions and foster a problem-solving mindset. Confidence also translates into a greater attraction and retention of talented professionals, further enhancing your employer brand.
  • Creativity: Creativity breathes life into even the most mundane tasks. Encourage a culture of innovation and creativity, allowing employees to approach their roles in unique ways. This might tangibly manifest as a creative onboarding program, integrating storytelling and interactive activities into the process. By fostering creativity, employees are likely to remember important information better and feel more engaged, which ultimately boosts your company's profile as an innovative workplace.

-30-30-60-90 Plan 

You can think of a -30, 30, 60, 90 day plan as a new employees’ North Star, guiding them in the right direction throughout the first three months on the job. It helps them maximize work output in the first 90 days in their new position aligned with company-driven goals. By defining focus, and concrete, manageable goals at each phase of the plan, you can make the transition into a new organization smoother and quicker.

[.callout-small] To learn more about creating a -30-30-60-90 onboarding plan and understanding its benefits for your organization, explore our eGuide. [.callout-small]

Understanding and implementing these key onboarding terms can significantly enhance the onboarding experience for both new hires and existing employees while promoting organizational success. By staying updated on the latest trends, strategies, and technologies, you can create a more inclusive, engaging, and efficient onboarding process, maximizing productivity and employee satisfaction.

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