Finding the right employee is the first step; making sure they hit the ground running is the next. Three seasoned recruiters show you how.

Recruiting is intense and expensive. So how do you ensure a new hire becomes an effective part of your business, enjoying mutual benefits that make them want to stay? “For most businesses, onboarding is an afterthought,” says Natasha Hawker, managing director of human resources consultancy Employee Matters. Despite current skills shortages and the need to engage and retain strong candidates, many managers rely on a warm welcome and newcomer zest for the role or defer to onboarding software.

Companies are missing an opportunity, says Hawker, “to facilitate a more effective process using technology while building in the need for employees to connect with colleagues, virtually or face to face”.

Hawker says the five Cs, a framework developed in 2010 by American researcher Talya N. Bauer, is a good starting point for any business developing its onboarding process. Of course, a desk, computer and access to company software must be in place when new staff walk through the real or virtual door.

Huon Hoogesteger, managing director of Smart Commercial Solar, a 34-person organisation of sales specialists, engineers and project managers, agrees that the compliance element of onboarding is easily automated. But for a cohesive, productive team, he believes nothing replaces one-on-one engagement.

New starters are flown to the Sydney office for at least a week, even if they’ll ultimately be working remotely in Queensland or Victoria. On their first day, they meet the entire team, they’re introduced to the technology they’ll be using and are given their first meaningful tasks to fuel a sense of new-employee competence.

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Sarah Regan, founder of florist Little Flowers, sends successful applicants a welcoming letter of offer, along with requests for compliance information. Actual onboarding, after a walk-through of the workroom, segues straight into “side-by-side working” with a florist who knows the ropes. Printed templates provide guides to the size and composition of bouquets to help new recruits achieve consistent quality.

Side-by-side working is an extension of teaming new recruits with a buddy or mentor. Hawker says research indicates that 87 per cent of organisations that assign an onboarding buddy report that it’s effective in speeding up new-hire proficiency.

Each of Little Flowers’ two daily shifts is followed by a debriefing with employees on WhatsApp, keeping everyone up-todate on any challenges and client feedback.

It’s an example of how onboarding never really ends. Hawker says companies should think of onboarding transforming into “a professional development plan that evolves with the employee on their journey with your business”.

The five Cs of onboarding


Automate processes such as new-hire paperwork, employee records and access to your staff handbook.


Help your new employee to understand exactly what’s expected of them, either online or in person.


Assign a buddy to help them navigate the unspoken cultural codes of your company.


Immersion in rituals, company values and performance management helps them participate in what matters to your organisation.

Check back

Schedule times for them to ask more questions and fine-tune their understanding. You’ll gain intel for future onboarding.

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