Blog Post

    The 6 C’s of exceptional employee onboarding

    As an HR professional in 2023, you likely already have a decent employee onboarding program in place. Which is a shame. Because decent isn’t exceptional.

    Exceptional employee onboarding is proven to enhance your brand, drive engagement, increase productivity and boost retention. And so long as you combine the right framework with the right tool, it’s not that difficult to achieve.

    When it comes to the right tool, we’ll admit we’re a little biased, but as far as the right framework is concerned, experts are pretty much all on the same page: exceptional employee onboarding can be most easily achieved when you map your journey to the 6 C’s of onboarding.

    But what are these 6 C’s? Officially, the 6 C’s of employee onboarding are Compliance, Clarification, Connection, Culture, Confidence and Checkback.

    Now, if you’ve been in the onboarding game for a while you may remember there were slightly fewer C’s in the past. As our collective knowledge of onboarding has grown, so have the key elements involved in a successful onboarding program - so today, we have 6 C’s. 6 important things to consider when building (or rebuilding) an effective new hire journey.

    Let’s explore the 6 C’s of onboarding together and discover how they can lead to an exceptional new hire experience!

    #1 Compliance
    Is your new hire legally ready to represent your company?

    The first C is mostly things you would deliver to a new hire in the preboarding period or as part of a first-day welcome pack. Essentially this is all the basic info that prepares your new hire to show up and legally navigate your business. Things like:

    - Employment contract
    - Organizational hierarchy chart
    - Office map
    - Important email addresses
    - Important phone numbers
    - Equipment like phone, laptop, keys
    - Parking permits
    - ID card
    - Benefits document
    - Company policies
    - Rules and regulations
    - Employee handbook
    - Company factsheet
    - Forms to sign
    - Log-ins for intranet, email, etc.
    - Bookmarks for important online info 

    Many organizations start and stop here, and that’s a huge mistake. Whilst compliance is important, it’s the bare minimum in onboarding.

    The first C is a great opportunity to deploy automation to seamlessly deliver this info to your new hire before they land on Day 1. This frees up the first day of employment for more personable activities, allows your new hire to feel prepared before they arrive, and ensures a more productive start.

    For HR it means less time spent chasing endless paperwork and more time adding social, cultural and emotional value through the other C’s of onboarding!

    #2 Clarification
    Does your new hire fully understand the job and what is expected of them?

    The second C is all about empowering your newest hire to perform their role to the best of their ability. It involves establishing clear expectations, setting goals, and scheduling regular performance check-ins.

    Without the right role clarification, you could end up with an employee who has a very different understanding of their role than you or their manager does, for example:

    Talmundo-smiley-sad-pink-1  Scenario 1 - POOR clarification

    You hired Marketing Manager Mike for his SaaS expertise. He’s a great hire and you’re excited to see him boost your free trial conversion rate.

    But he focuses his energy on acquisition. He achieves some great results – but they’re not the results you needed. He doesn’t have the anticipated business impact, which causes disappointment on all sides.

    Mike ends up frustrated because he feels you don’t value his expertise. He becomes demoralized, and his work ethic and performance suffer. And ultimately, perhaps he becomes one of the 25% of new hires that churn within their first year.

    Which isn’t just frustrating for you - it also costs you around 21% of his salary. Not good.

    Talmundo-smiley-happy-pink-1  Scenario 2 - STRONG clarification

    On Mike’s first day, he and his manager sit down and discuss various challenges the department faces. Mike understands that acquisition is important but it’s secondary to increasing free trial conversion. 

    They discuss where Mike can add the most value, and collaboratively set three, six, and nine-month performance targets aligned to your business goals.

    Mike immediately focuses his energy on your free trial conversion and achieves some quick wins. (Nearly 80% of new hires that hit early performance metrics had formal onboarding training, so that’s not a surprise.)

    Those early wins give Mike confidence, which works like a snowball effect for later goals. And regular check-ins surface any improvement areas, to keep Mike on track to smash later targets.

    Overall Mike feels valued and engaged knowing he’s contributing positively to the business. It’s a win for Mike, the business and you.

    rightarrow-PINK  That is why the second C is so important!


    #3 Confidence
    Does your new hire feel empowered to perform to the best of their abilities?

    Confidence is linked closely to Clarification, they’re two sides of the same coin. Where Clarification is about ensuring new hires know what they’re doing, Confidence involves giving new hires the tools and support needed to succeed in their (now crystal clear) role.

    A big part of building role confidence is in relevant, engaging training. That means a training that is personalised to your new hire's department & seniority, and does more than simply info-dump - please no death-by-powerpoint!

    Another great way to build confidence is to assign your newest hire a mentor. An onboarding mentor is different to an onboarding buddy. A buddy is more of your organizational insider, someone you can ask all of those embarrassing questions like ‘what’s the WiFi password’, and ‘where’s the good coffee’. A mentor, on the other hand, is someone who can take your newest hire under their wing professionally, helping them grow and develop their skills. An onboarding mentor can have many benefits, but the right mentor will most certainly help a new hire feel more confident.

    Here are a few confidence killers that Managers are best to avoid (especially during onboarding) if they want happy, healthy, confident employees:

    - Inconsistent communication

    Being told one thing on Monday, and an entirely different thing on Tuesday can make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. It’s essentially gaslighting and is a surefire way to make your newest hire feel small.

    - Second-hand criticism

    It’s one thing to have your manager give you criticism, but to have them pass on unsolicited feedback from another senior staff member who lacks context on their work can be incredibly demoralising. 

    - Over-promising

    Don’t promise what you can’t be sure you can deliver. That means promotions, annual leave, or specific types of work. These kinds of letdowns can leave a new hire feeling unworthy or foolish and ultimately will chip away at their professional self-worth.


    #4 Connection
    Will your new hire feel like a part of the family when they arrive at the office?

    This is where you help new hires integrate into your business and make friends. This may not seem like HR’s responsibility, but it is. Or at least, it should be if you want happier, more engaged employees who perform better and stay with you longer.

    70% of employees rank having friends at work as the most important element of a happy work life. And close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%. This matters because happy employees are 20% more productive than unhappy employees. 

    Plus, a feeling of belonging is closely connected to a sense of purpose. This is a megawatt tool in your arsenal because it saves you money on recruitment, cuts your wage bill, boosts your employer brand and powers better performance.

    What we’re getting at is that Connection is a vital part of any successful employee onboarding experience.

    A quick first-day office tour and intro overload won’t cut it. Instead, create opportunities for your new hire to connect with current employees before their first day. Think offline too. Could you organize a pre-start social for your new hire to meet the team out-of-office? That’s a fantastic way to boost engagement during their notice period: the highest risk time for drop-outs. Then once they start, make social connection a priority. Look for ways to encourage socializing across your business, like a buddy or mentor system, collaborative projects, group meetings, and communal breaks.

    And don’t forget about new hires who work remotely or as part of a hybrid set-up. Consider how you can replicate traditionally in-person social moments in an online environment.

    #5 Culture
    Can your new hire navigate the spoken AND unspoken aspects of your company culture?

    Onboarding and workplace culture are – or should be – closely entwined. Which seems obvious, when you say it out loud. But you’d be surprised how many businesses still don’t actively onboard into their culture.

    They are onboard into their office, sure. They tell new hires, ‘office hours are 8.30am until 5.30pm’ and ‘Sally Jones is your HR point of contact if you need help’.

    But new hires are left with a whole host of questions:

    - Does that actually mean 5.30pm?

    - Will I be judged negatively if I leave at that time?

    - What if I need to leave early some days?

    - Is working late encouraged or discouraged?

    - What about remote work?

    The Culture element of onboarding is about explaining the difficult-to-explain stuff that makes your company what it is.

    It means letting new hires peek behind the curtain. Telling them your values and mission, with tangible examples of how that works in the office. Showing them what your office environment is like – before their first day so they know what to wear, what time to arrive, and whether to bring lunch.

    Spreading the responsibility for onboarding outside HR is important. HR only have one perspective. Diverse perspectives from colleagues, mentors and managers are puzzle pieces that complete the culture picture for new hires.

    #6 Checkback
    Have you circled back to ensure your new hire is thriving in their role?

    Checkback is all about (you guessed it) checking back in with your new hire at critical moments during the new hire journey to ensure they are happy, healthy, and thriving in their new role. Checkback allows HR and Managers to course correct, identifying areas where a new hire is excelling, and areas for improvement.

    The final C is both the most and the least important of all because while it is a lot less involved than the rest of the 6 C’s of employee onboarding, if not done correctly, it can invalidate the rest.

    An important part of successful checkback is to give new hires multiple avenues to provide feedback. Not every new hire will feel comfortable verbalizing how they are feeling face-to-face. And sometimes a weekly (or even monthly) check-in meeting will come too late to avoid potential problems.

    Here are just a few effective checkback methods for use during onboarding:

    - Regular digital ‘pulse checks’ that allow a new hire to give a star or emoji rating every few days of their onboarding.

    - Quick fire surveys at key moments in the onboarding timeline (Day 1, Week 1, Week 2, Month 1, Month 3)

    - Weekly manager catch-ups (informal)

    - Weekly manager feedback sessions (more formal)

    - Bi-weekly HR check-ins (no agenda)

    A combination of some (or all) of these check-in styles will ensure your new hire has plenty of opportunities to provide feedback in a way that works for them.


    So there you have it - the 6 C’s of exceptional employee onboarding. How do you think your employee onboarding program measures up?

    Are you going beyond Compliance? If not, why not? If your organisation is stopping here, you’re missing many (or most) of the benefits of onboarding. Like the impressive improvements across productivity, retention and engagement customers like ManpowerGroup UK, LexisNexis Risk Solutions and ABN AMRO have enjoyed with Talmundo.

    So what are you waiting for? Try our onboarding solution today and start building the EXCEPTIONAL new hire journey your new hires deserve!

    Get in touch today - we love talking employee onboarding.

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    Topics: Onboarding , Featured
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