Onboarding done right – The 7 C’s for Success

Did you know employees who have a negative onboarding experience are twice as likely to look for other career opportunities? In fact, 33% know whether they’re going to stay or leave within the first week. 

David Perring, Director of Research at Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst, Fosway Group, shared these indisputable facts and more during a recent webinar. “If you hire good people you need to do your best to keep them and help them be productive,” he says. 

Perring was joined by Jasha Fletcher, who also knows a thing or two about creating an effective onboarding experience. As the Head of Learning Architecture and Design at British Telecom (BT) Consumer, she led the charge in onboarding 1,000 new employees within only a 12-month period. But more on that later.

First off, let’s look at how you create a successful onboarding experience. Keep reading to learn why a structured onboarding plan is so important and the 7 C’s that will help you build out that plan to retain high-performing employees.

Why you need a structured onboarding plan

If you want to engage and retain new hires, a positive onboarding experience tops the list of importance. In fact, new employees who completed a structured onboarding process were 58% more likely to be with the same company after three years. With so many organizations facing such a high rate of frontline employee turnover, it’s clear that a well-rounded and thoughtful approach is becoming increasingly necessary. 

So, let’s talk balance. According to Perring, there are two crucial elements that make up a structured onboarding experience: formal training and orientation. And maintaining an equal focus on formal and orientation-style practices will increase the success of your onboarding experience dramatically. 

Formal training refers to the specific tasks and procedures of the job. What are the day-to-day duties a new hire will need to learn to be proficient in their role? What regulations will they need to comply with? 

The second component, orientation, refers to the work environment and people aspect of the job. What’s the company culture like? Who will the new hire need to work with and how can they go about connecting with their colleagues? 

Giving your employees access to a structured, well-rounded onboarding experience directly impacts employee retention and performance. This means you’ll not only have happy, well-trained employees but also generate immense long-term payoff for the business. 

The 7 C’s of successful onboarding

During the webinar, Perring also walked through the 7 C’s—elements every structured onboarding experience incorporates. Keeping these principles in mind can help you build a successful plan that’s sure to provide an engaging onboarding journey for your new hires.

7 C's of effective onboarding

1. Connection 

Connection refers to the network of people in the workplace. In fact, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” says Perring. For example, knowing who calls the shots and the processes to follow to get things done helps people learn how to successfully navigate through an organization. Likewise, it’s important for people to feel like they have a sense of belonging and can rely on others to help them accomplish their goals. It’s the responsibility of employers to support and enable new hires to build these bonds with their coworkers. Creating a few collaborative relationships can go a long way in helping new hires feel connected to their workplace.

2. Clarity

Often, new hires struggle to identify why exactly they were hired. What skills or traits do they possess that made them the best candidate for the role? Directly making these valuable skills known to the employee affirms their capabilities right off the bat. It’s important for new hires to have a clear understanding of the company’s vision, goals and objectives to drive results. 

3. Compliance 

This one’s a given but definitely worth mentioning. In order to practice safety in the workplace, organizations must equip employees with the right information to ensure they’re compliant. What sort of health and safety, legal, technical or other regulatory compliance information must the new hire know before getting started in their role? Building this information into your onboarding process ensures that all employees know how to confidently mitigate risk.    

4. Culture 

Culture fit is incredibly important. Increasingly, companies are trying to hire people that align with the company’s culture. This goes beyond communicating the brand and values of the business to engaging new hires in how people work. “Look at this as a two-way street,” explains Perring. “Determine how the onboarding process demonstrates the values of your company, but also how you immerse the person in the culture.” For example, if your company promotes collaboration as one of its core values, then make sure the onboarding process includes collaborative elements throughout the experience.

5. Competence 

When it comes down to it, task completion drives productivity—but how can you make sure your employees are equipped to complete their tasks? By reinforcing their knowledge through a continuous training experience. Studies show that without doing so, employees start to forget information only one week after onboarding. A competent employee is knowledgeable and fully aware of what they need to do to be successful. 

6. Confidence 

This principle is equally important as competence. If competent employees are not confident in their knowledge, they may not make the right choices or take the right actions. Or, vice-versa, an overly confident employee with incorrect information may take the wrong actions. Measuring both competence and confidence will reduce risk, and those who believe in their knowledge will step up when necessary. By helping employees believe in themselves, you’ll create a proactive and reliable workforce. 

7. Care 

Doing little things go a long way in showing people you care. Perring recommends that you build practices on an organizational level to show new hires they matter. This can be as simple as making sure no one goes out for lunch alone in their first week. Think about ways to involve people socially and in tangible ways to make them feel valued. For example, providing benefits to employees, introducing health and wellness initiatives or planning team-building events. Each of these act as incentives for new hires and help keep them engaged.  

8. *Career* 

Here’s a bonus “C” Perring says you should also seriously consider. People place great value on learning new skills and moving up in their careers. So, it’s never too early to build career conversations into the onboarding process and connect people to new opportunities whenever possible. According to Perring, “Employees will stay with the company if they can see a future there.” 

A real-world example of onboarding that works

A company that embodies a successful structured onboarding experience and includes all of these principles is UK’s largest provider of broadband, TV and mobile services, British Telecoms. According to Fletcher, the two most critical aspects to BT Consumer’s success were identifying onboarding goals and finding the right learning platform for their training needs. BT quickly determined that it needed to increase competence and confidence among new hires. From there began the search for a learning platform that met these objectives and could provide continuous training within an employee’s daily workflow.   

After looking at a number of solutions, Fletcher and her team decided on the Axonify Microlearning Platform and she says, “It transformed BT’s new hire training.” In her opinion, the platform’s gamification and brain science-based tools, such as spaced repetition and reinforcement, play a central role in delivering important information and skills in a personalized way. After speaking to employees about their training experience, Fletcher found that 96% reported their own knowledge levels increased. “But we saw the truest measure of progress in the overall business impact,” says Fletcher. And, the results were staggering—you can read all about them here. 

If there’s one thing you should take away, it’s this: New hires’ values are changing, and so must your onboarding habits. In order to fulfill employee needs, improve retention and productivity, and impact business objectives, you must first understand how to implement the 7 C’s of successful onboarding in a meaningful way. 

If you’re interested in digging deeper into what David Perring and Jasha Fletcher had to say about fueling onboarding success you can check out the webinar. 

Or, if you’re looking for resources to help you understand how you can build a well-rounded onboarding experience to retain high-performing employees, you can get them all in one place by downloading this Onboarding Pro Kit

Caily is our resident retail whiz with a passion for CX. She’s spent more than a decade partnering with industry leaders to ensure success in strategic planning and omnichannel execution of national programs—so she knows the deal when it comes to the retail industry.

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