The New Hire Checklist — Your Guide to Onboarding New Employees

January 19, 2017 Becky Krill

onboarding new employees

The employee onboarding process is your chance to make a great first impression and to create a strong bond with a new employee. But in hyper-growth environments, it’s easy to lose track of the details, so a new hire checklist can save the day. This is particularly important as talent management evolves and you may have a mix of on-site and remote employees on the same team.

Onboarding isn’t just about learning the operational ropes — your onboarding process needs to be cultural, as well. Getting the new hire to feel like he or she is part of the team as quickly as possible is critical to success. 

That’s why onboarding can’t be left to chance — or to the last minute. According to a 2016 survey by The Aberdeen Group, best-in-class companies were 53% more likely to begin the onboarding process before Day 1. Many of these companies use online training portals to introduce new hires to the company culture and experience onboarding content before they’ve even set foot in the office. 

A well-documented onboarding process is a lot of extra work, but it’s worth it. In past studies, The Aberdeen Group found 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater new hire retention at organizations that standardize their onboarding.

I've created a new hire checklist to help you streamline the process and make sure you’re nailing every critical step. Read on to learn more. 

The New Hire Checklist Starts Before Their First Day

Welcome them to the team

Once the offer is accepted, send new hires a welcome email outlining the most important things they will need to know when they show up for that first day: address, floor number, who to ask for, key cards, parking directions and whatever else will help them to arrive with confidence. 

The welcome email should also point new hires to resources like your online employee handbook, mission/vision statements, and company social media so they can familiarize them self with expectations and culture. 

Finally, provide an outline of next steps in the onboarding process so they can be on the lookout.

New hire checklist

For bonus points, send a welcome package to their home address with a physical copy of the employee handbook and some fun company swag. We love this example from Slack — who wouldn’t be excited to get those socks?

That might not be your company’s style, but the underlying point applies to everyone. Make sure your onboarding checklist accounts for how you will make new hires feel welcome in advance.

Set up internal communications and training 

In a separate email, guide the new hire through setting up internal communication channels like company email, Slack accounts, Zenefits, Salesforce, Jira, Trello, Asana or whatever other software they will be using. 

Getting these logins set up before the first day — and giving your new hire time to familiarize themselves with the programs — is a huge timesaver. 

Include instructions for accessing your company’s online training portal. That’s a great way to train them on policies, processes, software, and anything else that’s unique to your company. 

Related reading: Here's What to Look for in an Online Learning Platform

Prep their workspace

Make sure you have everything ready at the office: computer, workstation, chair, office supplies, business cards, parking passes and anything else the new hire will need to do the job.

You may want to add a personalized touch to their desk, like a mug with a company logo or some snacks. 

Add their information to payroll and other important databases, and if the new hire will be working remotely, speak with the IT department to make sure that everything is prepared on your end.

Most of all, make sure you have the wifi password ready.

Prep the team

Make sure that everyone involved with this position and who will be working with the new hire is informed of their start date. This includes their team, of course, both internal and external, as well as other related departments. 

For example, if you're hiring a new salesperson, it may be helpful for them to meet with your marketing department head to get the low down on buyer personas and positioning. 

The new hire’s supervisor should also loop the rest of the team in and encourage them to welcome the new hire. 

Plan for the First Week

Work with the supervisor to create a schedule for the new hire’s first week. 

This will likely include some paperwork to get established, but also one-on-ones with key team members and meetings with other relevant departments to get oriented. 

Make sure the supervisor is prepared for their onboarding responsibilities on that first day — having the supervisor involved, rather than handling it all from within HR, helps to build that working relationship. 

Create a customized checklist for the new hire to track on their own. They may be feeling flooded with new information and wondering when they “actually get to work.” This will help them see how they are progressing on the details. It can detail the training modules they need to complete or the forms they have to complete with HR. 

Don’t forget that the first week should be about more than just orientation. Identify and prepare the first project that your new hire can jump into. This is one of the best ways to get them up to speed and productive.

Related reading: Modern Talent Management Requires Modern Workforce Training

The first day on any job can be overwhelming. But if you’ve followed the steps above, you’ve done a lot to prepare for their arrival which will ease the stress for the new hire and for you. 

Settle the new hire in

Start with a brief tour, and show them to their workstation. Give the new hire a moment to get settled in, familiarizing them self with equipment and software. This is also a good time for them to check out their schedule for the week, read over policies, and come up with questions. Be sure to equip them with resources such as a company directory, organizational charts, policies, and login information. 

Review the job and answer their questions 

It’s crucial to take time for a careful review of the job description and responsibilities during the first day. According to a study by Bamboo HR, “different work than expected” was one of the top reasons that new hires leave a job quickly. Take this time to become clear about job responsibilities and expectations. 

Provide a chance to meet the team

A walk-through of the office with introductions is helpful but take it a step further to truly create a bond with their team. Organizing a lunch or coffee meeting is a great opportunity not only to introduce them to the work but also to get a chance to become friendly with coworkers.  

Onboarding checklists don’t stop at day — or week — one

Integrating your new hire into the team doesn’t stop after the first day — so neither should your new hire checklist. Some of the activities you should track in the first few months include:

  • Setting goals collaboratively with new hire and revisit them often.
  • Continue to mentor and coach the new hire.
  • Coordinating a recurring one-on-one meeting to keep the lines of communication open.

The first few months of employment are especially critical since employees are still evaluating their fit within the company and deciding how they feel about the job. According to Bamboo HR survey referenced above, thirty-one percent of people have quit a job within the first six months. 

Work with your new hire’s supervisor to create a roadmap of milestones, goals, and check-ins — and don’t forget about ongoing training. Bamboo HR found that receiving organized, relevant and well-timed content was the number one way respondents thought their employers could improve the onboarding process.

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