4 C’s of onboarding – what is it?

Onboarding has emerged as a trending topic during these times of remote work. Creating a welcoming atmosphere for new colleagues has become prioritized, but many companies lack a structured process.

4 C's of onboarding - what is it and why should you care?

Onboarding has emerged as a trending topic during these times of remote work. Creating a welcoming atmosphere for new colleagues has become highly prioritized, but many companies still lack a structured onboarding process.

Here are some benefits of onboarding:

  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Increased productivity
  • Maintained organizational culture

Talya N. Bauer, award-winning researcher and Cameron Professor at Portland State University, has written an article called “Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success.” In her article, she highlights the 4 C’s as the building blocks of successful onboarding. And that is where our focus will lay today. So, what are these 4 C’s and how can organizations implement the strategy to ensure success? Let’s have a look.

1. Compliance

The foundation of each employee onboarding. Compliance refers to practical parts of the onboarding process. In an average company, this includes ordering a computer and cell phone but also making sure that email accounts are set up and keycards are ready. At first glance, these might seem like hygiene factors that just should be in place when a new employee starts. But if history has taught us anything, these small tasks are easy to forget.

2. Clarification

Bauer highlights clarification as a key factor for a successful onboarding process. The overarching goal is for the employee to understand what tasks he or she is responsible for and what is expected. The sooner the employee gains this insight, the faster the employee can become productive in his or her role. This has a positive impact both from an employee and employer perspective. On top of getting up to speed quickly, employees can avoid role conflict and role ambiguity.

3. Culture

Understanding the organization’s culture is critical for employees during the assimilation process. Corporate culture consists of both formal and informal rules. Informal rules are often overlooked as they are obvious for those within the company, but not for a new employee. The faster a new hire understands both the culture and internal subcultures, the greater the chance of long-term success within the company. Use the preboarding phase to introduce the culture. This creates a sense of belonging even before the first official day.

4. Connection

Finally, let us shed some light on the importance of relationships in a professional context. This is what the fourth C is all about. Connection refers to vital interpersonal relationships and networks that a new employee must establish to become successful in their role. Some companies have well-established mentorship programs to boost the new employee’s initial phase even further.


Creating a structured onboarding process is a great way to ensure long-term business success. Not only does it have a positive impact on several corporate KPIs, but employees also become more successful in their roles and feel a sense of belonging quicker. Talk about a win-win!

Organizations that successfully coordinate all four aspects have higher employee satisfaction, higher productivity, and lower employee churn compared to organizations that do not include all four C’s during their onboarding process.

Looking to learn more about the key components of a successful onboarding? Watch our on-demand webinar “Digital preboarding and onboarding – setting up for success.” The webinar is available in Swedish.

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