Onboarding Checklist: How To Set Up a New Employee for Success

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Bailey Maybray
Bailey Maybray

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Onboarding marks a new hire’s first experience at a company — and it makes a lasting impression. One study found that effective onboarding increased employee retention by 82%, but almost 9 in 10 employees report less-than-great onboarding experiences.

Onboarding checklist: a pair of shaking hands and a woman signing documents.

Welcoming new workers the right way requires significant preparation, and a formal onboarding checklist can help your employees hit the ground running. Creating a strong, engaging onboarding process can help your business attract and retain top talent.

Table of contents:

  • New hire onboarding checklist
  • How to create an onboarding checklist
    • Preboarding
    •  

New Hire Onboarding Checklist

An onboarding checklist is a list of steps to get a new hire through their first days and weeks with a company. It helps managers ensure new hires learn important information about their team and company, such as culture, organizational structure, computer systems, and more.

Using a checklist can help supervisors improve different parts of onboarding, including:

  • Maintaining transparency
  • Setting expectations
  • Minimizing stress
  • Sending resources
  • Educating new employees

How To Create an Onboarding Checklist

Depending on the structure of your company, the one responsible for onboarding could fall to the founder, human resources, or the new hire’s manager. Remember to delegate the following tasks to the person responsible for onboarding.

First, gather all pertinent resources and information into a single document. When collecting resources, remember to include anything you feel the new hire needs to succeed in their role. This could include:

  • Organizational charts
  • Role description
  • Applications and tools (e.g., email marketing software)
  • Learning resources (e.g., diversity and inclusion training)
  • Mandatory documents (e.g., benefits, tax information)
  • Team structure (e.g., their manager and co-workers)
  • Tech devices
  • Company swag

Preboarding

The real onboarding begins weeks before the new hire starts their job via preboarding, or the time between when they receive their job offer and their first day.

Preboarding can decrease your new worker’s anxiety about changing jobs and up your company’s reputation. One study by Digitate found that preboarding increases an employee’s chance of making referrals by 83%.

Preboarding centers on making the new hire feel excited and prepared to join your company.

Inform the team about the new hire

After finding a new hire, let the current team know about them. Discuss how they will fit into the organization, what their role entails, and where they previously worked. Encourage them to ask any questions about how the change will affect their team.

Send a welcome email

Get your new hire excited by sending a welcome email. Whoever sends the email should introduce themselves, express their excitement, and introduce the person to the rest of the team or organization.

New hire welcome email: a template to create a welcome email for new hires.

To introduce the new employee, scan their resume. Include their previous work experience or any fun facts mentioned. You could also ask the employee to share fun facts about themselves.

Offer them the chance to meet their manager

The new hire will likely interact with their manager more than anyone. So, the manager should meet with them prior to their start date. They can reiterate their excitement, provide more specifics on what the role entails, and let them know about upcoming projects.

Prepare any devices or software

To start, your new employee will likely need a laptop or computer. Next, jot down anything else they might need. For example, a designer might need a drawing tablet, graphic software, and more.

First-Day Onboarding

Welcome them to the company

If the new hire works in an office, have someone welcome them with a bang. Ensure they greet them enthusiastically when they walk in. The tour guide should provide them with a rundown of their day — meetings they can expect to have, mandatory documents they need to fill out, and other first-day activities.

Give the new hire a physical schedule so they feel comfortable and in control. If you plan on giving them any welcome kits or merch, place it at their assigned seat.

You can still maintain this excitement for a remote employee. Send all the information mentioned above and a schedule electronically. Their manager should also send them a welcome message.

Give them a tour of the office

Next, give the new hire a tour of the office. Inform them where they can work and socialize. Take them to their desk or cubicle, introducing them to their work neighbors. Let them know about any fun spots, such as places to relax or play pingpong. The person who delivers the tour can come from their team or HR.

Introduce them to their colleagues

Your colleagues got a sneak peak of the new hire during their preboarding experience. Now, formally introduce the employee to their colleagues. Ask current employees to set up coffee chats with the new hire during their first few weeks.

Set up first-day meetings

If the new hire does not immediately meet with HR, ensure they meet with them at some point during their first day. They can then ask HR any questions about benefits, insurance, or payroll. HR can also get mandatory documents from the new hire, such as copies of signed forms.

Also connect the new hire with IT workers to ensure they can access their equipment and software, and resolve any technical questions.

Importantly, your new hire should also meet with their supervisor or manager on their first day.

New hire schedule: Sample new hire first day schedule for onboarding.

Check in with them at the end of the day

The first day will overwhelm the new hire, no matter how smooth or seamless you make it. So, at the end of the workday, have someone ask them how it went. They should check to ensure they understand any company policies, how to use their equipment, and if they need anything else. In general, use this moment to offer someone on their team or on HR as a resource for them.

First-Week Onboarding

Set up any mandatory trainings

If your company has mandatory onboarding courses, ensure the new hire has access and knows what they need to complete.

This might include, as an example, a one-on-one meeting with an HR representative who walks them through any diversity and inclusion policies. Alternatively, this could involve self-paced learning where the new hire views videos or reads resources.

Introduce them to a buddy or mentor

According to MentorcliQ, over 9 in 10 mentees view their mentorship as beneficial. It gives new hires someone they can reach out to or ask questions in a less judgmental environment.

If your company can afford it, consider introducing the new hire to a mentor or buddy during their first week.

Consider hosting a welcome event

After the new hire’s first day, consider hosting a social event to welcome them to the company. For example, you could host a party in a break room with free food and drinks. If remote, you could set up 30 minutes to play an online game or icebreaker.

First 90 Days Onboarding

Establish a weekly cadence with their manager

Weekly one-on-one meetings can help set expectations, build a connection, and transition the new hire into their role. Ensure their supervisor regularly meets with them during their first 90 days and gather feedback on their experience.

Chat about key performance indicators (KPIs) and career goals

During their first 30 days, the new hire’s managers should set clear expectations. They should let them know about any KPIs attached to their role, such as revenue generated or number of articles written. Additionally, their manager should meet with them to discuss career goals.

Introduce them to projects

A new hire’s first few days shouldn’t involve actual work. However, their manager can let them know about projects they can expect to work on. By the second week, they can be introduced to a few projects and start to get their feet wet. 

Provide feedback

At the end of their first 90 days, ensure they receive feedback on their progress from their manager. Avoid making it sound like a performance review. Instead, encourage their manager to chat candidly with them about what went well, where they can improve, and any feedback they have about the process or role.

Onboarding Checklist Template

To save time, consider making use of an onboarding checklist template. The following template includes everything listed above, alongside examples, recommendations, and more.

Onboarding checklist template: a checklist template you can use to speed up onboarding for new hires.

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