How to Optimize Your Employee Onboarding Experience

You always want to make a great first impression, and why should welcoming new employees to your organization be any different?

In the past, employee onboarding meant sitting at a conference table for several hours and filling out reams of tedious paperwork. This process makes for a less than impressive welcome for your new hire, and creates extra work for you and your team.

Now, there are so many exciting technology tools available to make the process easy and engaging for both you and your new hires. There’s no excuse to burden new employees with a boring, monotonous process when you have the opportunity to provide an exciting and streamlined onboarding experience.

In this article, we’ll review how you can optimize your employee onboarding experience by following the well-known “four Cs of onboarding.” This will ultimately benefit your organization – and your new employees!

What is Employee Onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process by which a new employee is both set up and welcomed into an organization. This includes formal things like paperwork but also informal things that help integrate the new employee into the culture, like lunches with colleagues during their first week on the job.

According to Forbes, “Onboarding can make or break a new employee’s experience with your organization; it is, after all, the first glimpse they receive into how your company operates and treats its staff.”

Remember, employee onboarding is the crucial first impression, and an effective onboarding process can assure the new employee that they’ve made the right decision in taking on their new role.

The Four Cs of Onboarding

The Society for Human Resource Management Foundation’s Effective Practice Guidelines Series defines the “four Cs” that serve as building blocks for successful new-hire orientation. The degree to which each of these building blocks is leveraged determines the success of the overall onboarding strategy within an organization.

You can use the four Cs as building blocks in your effort to create and optimize the employee onboarding experience at your organization.

The First “C” of Onboarding: Compliance

Compliance is the first hurdle in the onboarding process, and no matter what you do, your onboarding experience won’t be exciting and engaging for long if it’s in violation of labor laws.

The mandatory housekeeping items include completion of paperwork, such as the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form and W-4 form, and equipping the new hire with a workspace and necessary technology. While these tasks are essential, they can be burdensome to both the employee and your own team.

With an onboarding portal, all new hire documents are delivered to the employee in a digital format, where they can review, fill out, and sign from anywhere. This means a big part of the compliance burden is completed prior to their first day of work, reallocating that time to focus more on the employee experience.

You can also create a uniform checklist of all the tasks that need to be completed , such as setting up the new hire’s workspace or creating a building access card, and assign them to various internal team members.

The Second “C” of Onboarding: Clarification

The interview and hiring process can be overwhelming for candidates. Remember, they’re trying to make the best first impression too, while proving to you that they’re the best candidate for the job. Once they’ve secured the position and are preparing to take on their new role, clarification ensures that employees understand this new role inside and out and are ready to assume all the responsibilities that come with it.

For your part, be sure to provide new employees with a complete role description that includes duties, compensation, benefits, and more. Files like these can be easily uploaded into your onboarding portal as custom employment documents, also known as eDocs. You can even add signature lines and tracking to make sure the documents are viewed and signed. EDocs can also be accessed through the employee’s self-service portal for later reference.

The Third “C” of Onboarding: Culture

Culture refers to the new employee’s understanding of both formal and informal organizational norms. These include things like state labor laws, office policies, break room etiquette, and more.

By providing an automated onboarding experience, you have the opportunity to embed your organization’s culture throughout the process. Most onboarding portals allow for extensive customization to include video messages, photos and bios of company leaders, and of course the ability to ensure the portal reflects the “look and feel” of your brand.

According to research by Twingate,  65% of respondents report that working from home sometimes feels lonely. In the age of Work From Home (WFH), it’s more important than ever to find ways to make sure your remote employees – especially new ones – are still integrated into the organization’s culture and feel excited to be part of the team. A branded onboarding portal won’t do all of this for you, but it’s an excellent way to kick off the relationship and showcase your company through an accessible, digital experience.

You can also educate the new hire on the formal norms during this process, as they’ll be reviewing the “rules” within the portal by signing off on employment documents and reading through your employee handbook.

The Fourth “C” of Onboarding: Connection

The best and most loyal employees develop a connection to their organizations, and this begins during the onboarding process. Connection refers to the interpersonal relationships and informational networks that a new hire develops, as well as that “feeling” of being part of the organization’s mission.

In a study done by Harvard Business Review, it was determined “that new hires with a moderate number of strong relationships within their cohort reported greater job satisfaction four months after joining the company, received higher annual performance ratings from their direct supervisors, and were less likely to leave the company in their first three years.” So, ensuring that they are given ample opportunity to interact with their colleagues and form connections is the minimum organizations can do for new employees.

Even better – especially for those who regularly come into the office – is a formalized, scheduled interaction with various members of the team. For example, at Checkwriters we started “Lunch with a Leader” where department heads take new hires to lunch. We plan on launching a variation of this soon where employees will be updated on department initiatives while being treated to catered lunches in our headquarters’ café.

So, how does an automated onboarding experience help with this effort? Again, it’s about kicking the relationship off on the right foot and presenting your organization in a way that gets the new hire excited about the prospect of working with your team.

And of course, any tool you can leverage that limits the amount of time an employee spends filling out paperwork and reading policies – or at least makes that process more convenient – allows more time for these relationships to be established.


The four Cs of onboarding are a great foundation to use when developing a repeatable onboarding process: Compliance, Clarification, Culture, Connection. Incidentally, each of these can be enhanced when your organization customizes and deploys an onboarding portal.

While automating your company’s onboarding process won’t be enough by itself, it will ease a lot of the burdens that typify the process and instead allow for more time spent on the organic, enjoyable aspects that are so necessary during an employee’s first days on the job.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.

By Jamie Galovich
Marketing Associate
Jamie joined Checkwriters in April 2023 and is responsible for assisting with internal marketing campaigns, conference management, and content creation for the Checkwriters social platforms. Before joining Checkwriters, Jamie graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration, both at the University of Connecticut.

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