Onboarding checklist

Explore details about the new hire onboarding process, some best practices and download the onboarding checklist template.

Onboarding new employees

What is the best way to make sure new employees become a strong and efficient part of your company? All managers want to know the secret. Well, we believe the answer is: through an effective onboarding process.

The employee onboarding is the process meant to integrate a new hire into an organization. Integration comprises not only the aspects related to job function, but also those related to the company’s culture because a new hired needs to get acclimated to the overall atmosphere.

Employee onboarding is a core HR activity that begins once a job candidate agrees to accept a job. Onboarding starts before the newly hired steps foot in your offices, from the recruitment stage. It involves all the steps needed to get a new employee successfully deployed and productive.

Note: The opposite of onboarding is offboarding. Offboarding is the process when an employee leaves the company.

New hire onboarding process

Designing truly effective onboarding practices have many benefits, some of them being: it builds a reputation for being a considerate employer that offers early training and orientation, it helps with retention, it reduces turnover costs and it enables new employees to reach a high level of productivity.

Your employees are the most important investment in achieving your company’s mission, vision and goals. Long term retention starts the moment you start to recruit new people. After that, once you have recruited a new person, you have a planned start date, you want to cultivate their success and implicitly, the company’s success.

As best practices when it comes to onboarding new hires, we recommend making a plan that covers the following:

  • What are the tasks needed to be finalized before the employee joins the office?
  • What are the actions required divided by first day, first week, and first month?
  • What tasks will the manager need to do?

Onboarding Checklist

If you’re an organized HR manager, you know you need to guide the entire onboarding process using a clear checklist. So, let’s get in motion and go through this employee onboarding checklist for the new hires:

Before the first day:

1. Get the paperwork ready.
This part of the onboarding ensures the new employee is legally able to start working in your company. It centers on completing all the mandatory documents and forms.

2. Confer with the supervisor
The new hire will work closely during the training period with an assigned supervisor. Therefore, discuss beforehand with him, in order to establish the role the new employee will have and the projects he will work on.

3. Prepare the employee’s office
This includes having ready:

  • Furniture
  • Computer
  • Systems access
  • Phone
  • Desk supplies

4. Grant access to the tools they will use and create accounts for him
The new hire will need an email account, a phone line, a social media account, as part of the company etc.

5. Be ready to explain the company’s benefits

  • explain again the way the salary is calculated
  • explain the benefits package and the ways to accede to a potential promotion
  • inform about the vacation policies including Time Off in Lieu practices
  • provide a recap of all these in writing

6. Hand over a job description
After discussing it during the interview, he/she needs to have a copy.

First day:
  1. Introduce them to the team
  2. Clear your schedule that day in order to help him/her feel welcomed into the team. Talk about his/her role, so the other team members can get an idea.
  3. Tour of the office
  4. Induction — essential for the new hire and for the company. The HR Department needs to inform him/her about office schedule, parking amenities, access in the building and dress code
  5. Assign a mentor — crucial for the onboarding process. The new hire needs to have the chance to look for help and work efficiently.
  6. Take out to lunch or for a coffee.
    This might be a great idea to break the ice. The mentor should also participate in this activity.
First week:

Assign the first projects and lay out the expectations for the first 2 or 3 months.

First month:
  1. Plan meetings — use them to offer advice, ask questions if you have concerns about his work and submit constructive criticism.
  2. Provide some material for personal growth
  3. Encourage him/her to interact also socially with the team, not only at work.
  4. Now you can review your onboarding process. You can see what went good and wrong and also ask the employee for their opinion. This can help you improve your onboarding process for future employees.

The Most Important Don’ts In Employee Onboarding

  1. Don’t create a disappointing onboarding process

    One of the first mistakes you can make is failing to provide adequate support to a newcomer. This support compiles both the incipient guidance and the first training specific to the job. The new employees need to know what is expected of them from the very first day. Also, you need to set objectives for the next 3 to 6 months and you have to motivate them in all the ways possible. Burying them in a pile of employment paperwork to complete and company policies to read will not generate the results you wish for. There is no excitement in that. Instead, you may obtain a low level of productivity, no engagement and eventually a high turnover rate. Thus, the key is to develop a process that takes the employee through everything he/she needs to know: from where the kitchen is, to what volume of work is he/she expected to undertake in the following months.

  2. Don’t swamp the newly hired

    The opposite, overwhelming the employee with tons of information he/she will never use of will forget until the next day is also a common error. HR experts agree that onboarding should be an individual process, so you need to adapt it to every new hire. Don’t spend the whole first day bombarding him/her with employee handbooks, codes of conduct, company policies or a PowerPoint presentation of 3 hours with all the company’s history. Ideally, this could be simplified by using an online program, so they can sign these documents before the first day. Moreover, all policies and the employee handbook should be available in an online version, so you don’t need to go through every line of these, just the main points of interest.

  3. Don’t neglect your responsibilities as manager, HR specialist, in the process

    You expect a lot from the new employee, but in exchange, you have to be prepared. This means developing an orientation agenda, materials, the computer at the desk and all access badges required ready. There is nothing worse than leaving the impression that you had no time to plan the newcomers’ arrival.

  4. Don’t let the new hire find his/her place in the team on their own

    Entering a new job, a new company is more than taking up a professional challenge. It’s also a big part of your life regarding relationships. You are now part of a new team, you need to know who to speak to in case of an issue and to understand your place in the company. Therefore, a great onboarding involves that managers or HR staff help the newly hired with introductions. Even better, a member of the team should be assigned to help him/her to blend in. A tour of the facility may be a way to simplify this task, but it’s not the only one.

A creative welcome gift — is it necessary?

Nowadays, ingenious HR specialists decide that in order for a new employee to feel excited about the new job, the company should offer a gift or a package of 2 or 3 small gifts. It can be a mug with a funny message, an inspirational book or a gift voucher to the favorite shop in town. Another common method is that the CEO takes the new hire out for lunch in the first month. Some may view these practices as “too much”, others have faith that is icing on the cake. In the end, it comes down to your organization’s vision.

Onboarding checklist template

Use the plan template below to make sure you have checked all the boxes in the “Onboarding book” and your new employee has the best start possible. Our sample can be downloaded for free regardless if the new hire will work in a executive role, call center, sales department or non-profit association. We know that all the paperwork needed for the onboarding process is dreadful, but by using our template of onboarding checklist, you will save precious time!


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