Onboarding Checklist: Your New Employee Checklist (with Template)

By Dan Doherty

When you hire a new employee you need them to ramp up fast. Using a new employee checklist template can help you quickly onboard new hires and make them productive as quickly as possible. Our onboarding checklist makes the entire process more manageable, organized, and successful.

Small businesses struggle to hire and keep new employees, so employee onboarding can make or break an organization. If employee onboarding is done well not only does employee satisfaction increase, but it also increases productivity and retention – by as much as 50%. But according to Gallup, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees.”

The new employee checklist template below can help your company beat those statistics. You’ll reap the benefits of happier employees who contribute more in both the short- and long-term. 

New Employee Onboarding Checklist

Employee onboarding (the actions or process you use to fully integrate your new hire into your organization) doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be comprehensive. And the more planning and organization that goes into your onboarding template, the easier it will be to ensure that your employees and your company are successful.

Onboarding today has moved far beyond the transactional – it’s not just about completing paperwork and checking off first-day orientation. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) recommends that onboarding last the entire first year of a new hire’s employment. 

 

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Here’s a comprehensive new hire onboarding checklist to follow at key times throughout the first year of employment:

A. Offer Stage:

  1. Obtain your new employee’s signed job offer letter. Include a clear overview of the job role and responsibilities, statement of all compensation being offered, as well as when and how your employee will be paid, expected work hours, and full time vs. part time status.  The letter should also feature a summary of your benefits plan (if you offer one), or other important policies, work location, reporting manager, and termination conditions. Be sure to clearly state the hire’s start date and end on a welcoming, positive note.
  2. Return counter-signed offer letter to new hire, along with a welcome email.  When you furnish your new employee with a copy of their fully executed offer letter, you can also take the opportunity to outline their first day (or even first week’s) schedule in your email.  Attach any onboarding forms or other documents they can get a jump on completing and bring in their first day. Remind them of required identification to complete their I-9 and banking information needed (checking account number and bank routing number) if you offer direct deposit. Learn more about new employee forms.
  3. Include a brief get-to-know-you survey.  Keeping your new hire engaged in the downtime before they officially begin at your organization is important.  Send them a few interesting questions in your email or via a separate survey (using a free tool like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey) and then share those responses with their immediate team before they get started.

B. Prior to Start Date:

  1. Prepare your new employee’s work environment and supporting tools and technology. Engage necessary, relevant colleagues to help secure your new hire’s email and other applicable accounts and logins, as well as their required work equipment and environment (phone, computer, desk space, parking spot). Be sure to cover all the stops, including:
    • Voicemail
    • Email
    • Time management system
    • Employee intranet, CRM or sales management software, any project management systems or other technologies your company utilizes
    • Remote access to email or any other software or systems
    • Security clearance, if needed, with building management
    • Applicable email distribution lists
    • Desk space with proper chair, adequate light, computer and phone. Add a personal touch. Be it a handwritten welcome note with a desk plant, branded company merchandise, a bottle of water and granola bars, or company notepad
    • Parking
  2. Set up your new hire’s meeting and lunch schedule for the first day, as well as the first week.  Mix it up and provide breaks. The first several weeks at any new job can be overwhelming.
  3. Ensure your new employee’s manager is included in the preparation of the new hire’s onboarding checklist.  In addition, ask that their manager customizes and maintains their own onboarding template to ensure the employee is settling in well, establishing clear goals, and getting the training they need.
  4. Outline their training plan with input from their manager and others as needed. Determine how that training will take place, be it through the use of videos, written guides, client meeting participation, one-on-one demonstration, or shadowing.
  5. Inform any relevant clients impacted by the new hire so they know about the change.  If a co-worker is announcing the change, provide them with an email template that helps introduce your new employee accurately and professionally.  This can help ease the transition and keep client confidence high.
  6. Meet with or encourage managers to meet with existing teams to explain the new hire’s role.  Providing a clear overview of the new hire’s role within their team and the organization can help current employees avoid any confusion, duplication of efforts, or feelings of threat with their new peer.

C. First Day

  1. Send out company email announcing the new employee. Distribute it first thing in the morning (or even a day to two beforehand).
  2. Meet your employee at the front door or lobby area upon arrival.  Ensure your new hire is properly welcomed and not left to wander the halls on day one.
  3. Give a tour of the office and/or building and parking facilities. Orient your new hire with their desk, kitchen or lounge, conference areas, and the restroom.
  4. Make individual introductions throughout the office.  Start with their immediate team and work your way around each department.
  5. Present your employee with their onboarding schedule for the day.  And if possible, give them a schedule for the entire first week or month, including their HR-related orientations, meetings, lunches, and training.
  6. Make it special.  Take what makes your company unique and channel that energy into the entire onboarding plan you customize for each employee.  Make sure they leave day one feeling positive, taken care of, and on the right track.
  7. Onboarding Paperwork.  That overstuffed folder of onboarding forms can be daunting.  Help pace the paperwork for your new hire. Whenever possible, send forms ahead of the start date to your new hire.  And consider breaking up the time slots you set aside for form completion throughout the first day and week. This will help ensure your employee is not only filling things out accurately, but has a chance to review and ask questions about important information related to your handbook, benefits and legal documents.

    Essential onboarding paperwork should include:
    • Required tax forms: W-4, I-9 (or W-9 for contract and/or freelancers).  Keep up with changes to these forms, including changes to the Form W-4 in 2020.
    • Employment Contract
    • Non-complete, non-disclosure and any other legal documents required by your business
    • Background Check Authorization
    • Employee Handbook
    • Direct Deposit form
    • Drug and/or Alcohol test consent agreements
    • Benefits Literature (including medical and dental, 401k)
    • Emergency Contact form
    • Job Description, org chart, overview of immediate colleagues and peers
    • List of equipment and/or inventory given to new hire

    If you find keeping track of the new hire onboarding forms is a hassle to manage, consider using an online system to help manage these documents. Using small business HR software can automate the process, keeping all documents securely in one place and ensuring that you don’t miss any critical steps.  Read more tips and insight about successfully completing new employee forms.
Your new employee checklist will ensure you address key onboarding milestones throughout the first year of a new hire's career.

D. Week One

  1. Gather onboarding feedback from your new employee.  Ask your new hire for their input now that the first week of meetings, training, and lunches is done.  You can use a quick paper or online survey. Try to address any concerns that new employees report to improve your process for future hires.
  2. Ensure all technology and tools are functioning.  Determine if there are any issues that need addressing, or if your employee needs more training on any systems – if not already scheduled.
  3. Check in on the training schedule and determine if it needs modification. Ask your employee how they are doing with the training provided and where they feel they need more.
  4. Begin regular weekly reporting meetings with their manager. If your new employee’s manager hasn’t set up a regular, weekly reporting time to discuss progress on short- and long-term projects and goals, be sure it gets established now.
  5. Go deeper into the company’s mission statement and culture. Make sure your employee has a good understanding of your business’s mission and goals.  After a week, they’ll start to get a sense of your culture – ask them what they think.
  6. Designate a mentor, outside of immediate manager. If you have the staff resources, designate a more senior member of the team to meet or have lunch with your new employee to provide additional guidance and encouragement.

E. Month One

  1. Repeat several of the check-in steps established at week one.  Gather onboarding feedback, ensure technology and tools are functioning and do a training and development evaluation.
  2. Take an initial measurement of how the employee is doing with their goals.  What work have they begun and completed in their first four weeks? How are they doing against their larger goals?
  3. Ensure benefits enrollment is complete. Process any benefits selection by required due date.

F. 60 and 90 Days

  1. Repeat check-in and measurement steps from month one.  Gather onboarding feedback, ensure technology and tools are functioning, and do a training and development evaluation.  Take measurement of ongoing projects and goals. Identify and address any areas of concern.

G. 6 Months:

  1. Complete a formal, 6-month employee review for your new hire. Be specific and detailed in the collection of both your employee and manager’s feedback for each area of their review.  Establish and adhere to a standardized review form and process. Respond appropriately to areas of strength and weakness, as well as measurement of employee goals, and modify the onboarding plan as needed.

H. 9 Months

  1. Repeat check-in and measurement steps from month one.  Gather onboarding feedback, ensure technology and tools are functioning, and do a training and development evaluation.  Take measurement of ongoing projects and goals. Identify and address any areas of concern. 

I. 1 Year

  1. Complete a formal one-year review for your new employee. Be specific and detailed in the collection of both your employee and manager’s feedback for each area of their review. Establish and adhere to a standardized review form and process. Determine if a pay increase, lateral move or promotion is appropriate.  Address areas of concern or weakness. Amend current goals and establish new ones, and make changes to their training and development program.

 

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Benefits of Using an Onboarding Checklist

There are several benefits to adhering to an organized, comprehensive new employee onboarding checklist template that approaches the process in defined stages.

An employee checklist template helps to ensure your new employees have what they need to succeed professionally, and also feel you are invested in them personally. That goes a long way in the quest to develop committed, productive employees.

 A recent Glassdoor survey found that “employees who felt they had been through a highly effective onboarding experience were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization,” and “91% of these employees felt a strong connectedness at work.”

Nearly half of those same surveyed employees went on to report they were contributing to their team after just one week on the job.

The impact that a successful employee onboarding has individually and collectively within your company only strengthens your ability to deliver the very best product and service to the outside world. And it’s that difference between surviving and thriving that is well worth the investment.

By ramping up new employees quickly with an onboarding checklist and keeping your best employees longer you’ll position your company for future revenue growth.

 

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Employee Onboarding FAQs:

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is a comprehensive, staged process by which you introduce and integrate a new employee into all key parts of your organization. This process unfolds over days, weeks and months within the first year of employment.

It includes completion of onboarding paperwork, as well as ongoing, job-specific training and development, and setting of specific goals. Additionally, the communication of your company’s mission, policies and culture is critical during this time.

The end goal of onboarding is to provide your new hire with the skills, knowledge and tools they need to contribute and succeed for the long-term within your organization.

How long should onboarding last?

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) recommends that onboarding take place over the entire first year of a new hire’s employment. There are several important milestones along the way, including the first week, month, 60- and 90-day marks, as well as 6-month, 9-month, and 1-year anniversary. 

An onboarding checklist template like the one above can help your business put a comprehensive plan in place, while ensuring critical steps are met at these important dates. 

Who should be involved in onboarding new employees?

If your organization has a Human Resources (HR) employee or department, they should be a key leader behind organizing and establishing onboarding for your new employees. Additional stakeholders include immediate managers, relevant peers, team members, and a member from your IT team. 

What should be included in onboarding paperwork?

Onboarding paperwork typically includes a signed offer letter, background check authorization, employee handbook, and employment contract. 

New employees must also complete required tax and work identification forms like a W-4 and I-9, legal documents (like a non-compete or non-disclosure), and any benefits selection forms, as offered by your organization. Emergency contact, direct deposit, and equipment inventory assigned to the new hire are also included.

Refer to a comprehensive list of essential onboarding paperwork in the “First Day” section above.

What are the required onboarding forms?

You must obtain a completed Form W-4 from your new employee to determine their tax withholding, as well as a completed I-9 to verify employment. You can read more about these required new hire forms here.

Additionally, your onboarding paperwork should include an employment contract, any non-compete or non-disclosure agreements, an employee handbook, and forms related to benefits selection. 

An employee onboarding template helps bring new employees up to speed quickly on expectations for their role, as well as providing proper training and development to ensure long-term success.

What kinds of activities fall under onboarding new employees?

Onboarding includes the management of new employee paperwork, but should also include a detailed meeting and lunch schedule for your new hire throughout their first week. It encompasses ongoing personalized training and development for your employee, and a thorough understanding of your company’s policies, mission, and culture. Establishing goals and asking for regular feedback throughout the first year of employment is also critical.

Why should I use a new employee checklist template to help facilitate the process?

Implementing a formal onboarding process using a new employee checklist template is essential to a successful ramp up for your new hire. Not only does it keep you as an employer organized and accurate in the paperwork, training, and activities you provide, but also gives your newly hired employee a sense of confidence in you as their employer. 

New employees who are properly onboarded will be more likely to contribute now and in the future. A clear and thorough understanding of employee onboarding benefits all involved in the process.

What should be included on a new employee onboarding checklist template?

Clearly defined key milestones should be established as part of an onboarding plan template. As provided above, organize your onboarding form by offer stage, preparation stage, day one, week one, month one and 60- and 90-day check-ins. It’s also important to include 6-month, 9-month, and 1-year anniversary markers and reviews.

Items to include are required paperwork and work space set-up, meeting and lunch schedule, a clear training and development plan, goal setting, and a regular check-in schedule. Use our checklist above as a starting point, and customize it for your company if needed.

How often should I evaluate and/or update the onboarding checklist template used at my organization?

Review your employee onboarding program at least once a year, ideally every six months. Seek input from your newest and longest tenured employees, as well as leadership and management. 

It’s also important to ask about the onboarding experience when an employee leaves your organization. You can read more about employee offboarding here. Ask industry peers for input as to what’s worked at their organization and stay on top of the latest research and statistics from onboarding experts.

Where can I find sample onboarding documents?

In addition to the comprehensive onboarding checklist template available in this article, additional documents you’ll need are Forms W-4 and I-9. Form W-4 is available on the Internal Revenue Service website and the I-9 is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

Need More Help Managing Employee Onboarding Paperwork and Other Time-consuming HR Tasks?

Additional onboarding templates can be obtained by a licensed professional Human Resources outsourcing partner like a Professional Employer Organization (PEO).

Working with an HR Service Provider lets you rely on experts to manage critical HR tasks like employee management, payroll, benefits, and compliance. This will save time and reduce headaches for business owners you can focus on other areas critical to growing your business.

Read more about what is a PEO to better understand how this works.

If you’re looking to learn more about partnering with someone who can help you outsource HR tasks for your business, we can help. Contact us to get matched with a local HR partner from our nationwide network of HR service providers.

 

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