Onboarding Checklist: 10-Step Guide to Effective Employee Onboarding


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Employee onboarding is the process of getting new hires acquainted with the company culture, tools, and other critical methods and information for a smooth workflow in the first few days, weeks, or months. 

Not having an effective employee onboarding process can lead to many negative results. Employees can’t gauge the type of management they work for, the job responsibilities can be confusing, and they might realize they don’t like the kind of work in the long run. This will lead to more employees jumping ship. 

Did you know that not having enough training during employee onboarding is one of the reasons why employees leave? A BambooHR study shows that 31 percent of new hires leave their jobs within the first six months. 

On top of that, here’s a chart to show you the top reasons why new employees leave:

employee onboarding

It’s pretty obvious that new hires appreciate effective employee onboarding programs. In fact, the same study shows 76 percent of new employees consider OJT training as the most important. 

Also, 73 percent of new hires prefer a thorough review of company policies. Finally, 59 percent and 56 percent of new employees want a company tour and mentor during employee onboarding, respectively. 

That said, it’s vital to set clear expectations, establish company culture and other aspects of their work in the initial stage. So without further ado, tick the boxes from this employee onboarding checklist and see if you’re on the right path.

1. Reach out before the employees’ first day

The last thing you want is for employees to be disoriented during their first day of work. One way to make them feel comfortable and extra welcome is by reaching out to them before their first day of work.

 Be creative in getting in touch with employees. Send them a warm and genial employee welcome email. Then you can include a link with the entire employee onboarding process, so that they know what to expect during their first day.

If you want to keep it conventional, try sending a snail mail with a simple starter pack. This alone will already make employees feel special for going the extra mile.

2. Make it official

The Human Resource department is responsible for the official onboarding checklist template. Make it official with the HR department by having them contact the employees even before day one. You can have HR contact employees to send the official employee handbook or company policies right after officially hiring them.

Doing this will instill confidence in employees that they’re embarking on an exciting venture. Also, letting designated HR representatives communicate with employees won’t confuse new hires. This way, they know they’re getting the correct information and know what to do on their first day.

3. Greet them with a bang

New employees have probably gone through a couple of welcome parties on their first day. Make yours memorable by thinking of creative ways that eliminate the first-day-of-work jitters and uneasiness. While some new hires can be comfortable conversing and socializing on their first day, some are introverts who might not be at ease with meeting many people in a new office setting.

Prepare a simple feast to make their stomachs happy. Or, you can also give them free merchandise with your company logo. Better yet, do a quick game as an icebreaker. Whatever you can think of to eliminate the barrier between higher-ups and rank-and-file employees is a game-changer for new hires.

4. Get the paperwork ready

Prepare a company handbook that clearly outlines the organization’s company policies, security policies, and procedures. Make sure to include information on benefits, work schedules, dress code, disciplinary actions, etc. It’s also essential to translate it into other languages so new hires can understand what they are signing up for when joining your team. 

You may also include an employment contract. This should cover all aspects of employment like salary and wages; employee responsibilities (e.g., working hours); performance standards or expectations; health insurance coverage with medical providers in the area where you’re located; disability insurance coverage – including long term care options if needed. If this will be an international hire, then make sure to add any cultural considerations too!

You may also include a welcome letter from the CEO or HR director if they won’t be able to meet employees on the first day. The welcome letter should contain employee expectations during the onboarding program. Other types of documents may include non-disclosure agreements, payroll forms, and more.

5. Automate the process

Speaking of paperwork, try to automate some processes to eliminate red tape on the employee’s first day. The last thing you want is to waste a chunk of time reading and signing documents instead of getting acquainted with each other. 

When sending the welcome email to employees before the big day, include a link where employees can complete the documents online. This way, you’ll have more time for other fun welcome activities on the first day.

6. Establish a structure for the first week or so

Have you ever felt lost or adrift at your new job, especially during the first few weeks? Many employees have felt that due to not having a clear-cut structure. They arrive at work during the first week, feeling like they don’t know what to do. 

That said, make it easier for employees to develop a seamless workflow by guiding them with a work structure. Start with the simple things first such as logging into the company’s software, collaborating with other colleagues for workflow, or knowing the simple day-to-day tasks they must check the moment they sit in their cubicle. 

You want them to get used to the process during the first few weeks. After that, slowly introduce the bigger tasks, which will be covered in the next tip.

7. Introduce bigger tasks after a month

Try to hold off on the bigger tasks, such as establishing systems and procedures, until after the first month. You want to make sure that your new hire is getting a feel for what it’s like in their position, which may differ from any other jobs they’ve held before.

After you’ve watched them on the job for a while, think about how you can fit their tasks around the critical things they need to do. For example, if they spend time with other people, then make sure that there is time between when they are not working.

If they’re someone who will need some training upfront from HR/training staff, then try not to let this take away from their regular workload too much. You may want to make sure that they can do the tasks of their position and not be overwhelmed with training.

If there is a specific task that you want them to oversee, then it’s best to give them some time in between when they work on this to focus more for a shorter period of time. For example, if you need help doing something every Monday at 11 AM, assign someone else from your team with other responsibilities or contract out the project instead.

The important thing is that employees get the hang of the new job first and communicate comfortably with the proper people in charge before taking on the big tasks. This way, employees can ramp up before hitting full speed and save everyone involved significant amounts of stress and frustration down the road!

8. Give them an office tour

On their first day of work, ensure that you give them an office tour. If you have a fun and killer office branding, it would be such a waste not showing it off to new employees! Show them where the bathrooms, game rooms, lobby, or common areas are. 

You may also want to introduce employees to key personnel in every department. This way, they’d know who to approach if they need help with something, which is inevitable for new hires. 

The elements of onboarding should revolve around making new employees feel comfortable in the office and with their colleagues initially. Giving them a building tour will make them more confident finding their way around the office, eliminating wasted time for repeatedly asking.

9. Set up the workstation

One of the most crucial elements of onboarding is setting up the employee’s workstation that will mostly have all employee onboarding tools. When a new hire arrives, you want to make it as easy as possible to get started with their first task quickly and effectively.

The first step in setting up the new hire’s workstation is to ensure that it has an ergonomic desk chair. The next step would be installing any necessary programs and apps, such as Microsoft Office or other productivity software.

You then want to install all of the most critical files onto their computer (including personnel records, employee handbook, etc.). Finally, you want to set up preferences for email accounts and passwords (e.g., Gmail), which will lessen the chance of potential security breaches later on down the line if they forget credentials during onboarding.

If there are many steps involved with this process (such as loading updates), you can even create your checklist, so everything goes smoothly when adding someone new to the team. The University of Melbourne provides a “Computer Workstation Assessment Checklist,” which you can download in a Word document format. Check out their website and browse the search field.

10. Touch base regularly

Formal onboarding programs should involve a 30, 60, and 90-day check-in plan. This is the only way to monitor how the employee is progressing with your and other colleagues’ help. 

Make sure to touch base with new hires after 30, 60, and 90 days by creating an onboarding template from day one. However, don’t forget to set clear expectations from the beginning so new employees know the key metrics and performance requirements they must meet. 

Regularly checking in on your employees also shows excellent management and leadership with the primary goal of giving support and encouragement. If you don’t know what interview questions to ask, the California Department of Technology provides a “30/60/90 Day Check-In Interview Questions” for new hires. Visit their website, and download the Word document, and create your template.

Fundamental Onboarding Checklist:

employee onboarding

Every business structure is different. However, this helpful onboarding checklist will serve as your guide to make for an effective onboarding process:

Before Day One:

  • Prepare all necessary documents to fill out
  • Approve all paperwork to get started
  • Introduce a point person for the new employee
  • Discuss job responsibilities and goals with supervisor
  • Get the employee workstation ready
  • Provide access to company and work tools, entry cards, devices, etc.
  • Prepare accounts of work applications or software 
  • Send company handbook and other necessary articles they must read
  • Prepare the benefits package
  • Have a hard and soft copy of the job responsibilities

Day One:

  • Welcome new employees
  • Give a tour of the office
  • Provide the training tools and materials
  • Set expectations and goals
  • Explain company culture thoroughly
  • Let employees meet the point person
  • Organize a fun first-day activity

First Week: