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An Onboarding Checklist That Will Make Your Life Easier

Onboarding ChecklistOnboarding Checklist
min read
August 21, 2023

You’ve just made a new hire, congratulations! Building your team and bringing in hard-working, talented individuals is one of the most rewarding parts of being a business owner. But just when you thought that the recruitment process was over, it’s time to think again.


Holding an accepted offer letter should be the trigger that kickstarts your new hire onboarding, a set of workflows and practices that make for an efficient and well-organized welcome on your new employee’s first day. Remember, first impressions matter as much on your end as theirs. 


Taking the time to invest in an onboarding process can make a big difference in how your team members think about the work environment and company culture of your business. You don’t want to see any negative comments on LinkedIn because your incoming employees feel unsupported and confused. 


If new employee onboarding is an unfamiliar concept, we’ve got you covered. We’re here to give you the rundown on what you should include in your onboarding process, along with a handy onboarding checklist for you to download and refer back to as you welcome your new hire.

What Should Be Included in an Employee Onboarding Checklist?

We’ll jump into the details with some onboarding templates in just a minute, but generally speaking, your onboarding checklist should include all of the steps and tasks you need to handle for your new hire to get up to speed and feel settled in their role. 


What you share with your hire will depend on the size of your business (startups will have very different needs from larger corporations when it comes to new employee onboarding) and what their job description looks like. But the overall goal of effective onboarding is to get them up to speed as quickly as possible with training and an introduction to both the company culture and their new team.

What Are the 5 C’s of Onboarding?

You’ll find plenty of onboarding templates out there, but as you work on building your own, it can be helpful to remember the 5 C’s of onboarding:


By making sure that these areas are covered somewhere in your process, your new hire should have a positive onboarding experience. And a positive experience means greater employee engagement and job satisfaction. 


The metrics around this are actually pretty shocking. Glassdoor found that companies with strong onboarding programs improved their retention by over 80 percent and their productivity by over 70 percent. So while it takes time to build an effective program, it’s certainly worth the effort.

What Are the 4 Phases of Onboarding?

The 5 C’s of onboarding can help you ensure you’re checking all of the necessary boxes. But, if you’d prefer a more chronological system, new employee onboarding can also be broken into four distinct phases

  1. Orientation: Focused on giving the employee an overview of your company, including your products and services, your team, your mission and values, and your policies. 
  2. Role training: Focused on the daily responsibilities of the new hire’s job, with hands-on training to help them understand the ins and outs of their new role.
  3. Transition: Focused on providing ongoing support and guidance during the several months following a new hire’s first day as they continue to get comfortable in their position. 
  4. Development: Focused on the employee’s future at your company, specifically their growth and advancement and what tactical steps they need to take to pursue their career goals. 


Regardless of what formal process or approach you use (if any), it’s important to remember that onboarding isn’t a one-and-done activity. You should plan to be by an employee’s side to support them for at least the first 90 days of their employment to ensure they have everything they need to succeed. 

Who Should Oversee the Onboarding Process?

In most cases, senior leadership will work with the human resources team (if you have one) to build an onboarding checklist or repeatable process that can be used with every new hire. Once your onboarding program has been put together, it’s down to the HR team to ensure that the templates are executed successfully whenever you bring someone new into the company.


The hiring supervisor should be the one to coordinate with the new employee about their start date and the company dress code ahead of their first day. HR should also manage internal processes around setting up their workspace and getting anything that they might need like email accounts, security cards, or keys.


It’s important to involve the new hire’s direct supervisor at various points of the process, like checking in to see if there’s any special computer programs or equipment that are needed for the employee to be successful and productive in their role. But this should be kept to a minimum (after all, they have a job to do too) and only focus on job or team-specific tasks.


Finally, regardless of who leads the process, it’s helpful for any new employee to have a meeting with your company’s leadership—including the CEO or business owner. Not only does it give them an opportunity to feel more connected to the company, but it also helps them learn more about cultural values and expectations. 

Building Your Onboarding Process (from Beginning to End)

Looking for ways to make the onboarding process a little more manageable? We’ve broken down what you’ll need to take care of—from right after signing the offer letter all the way through the employee’s first month on your team. 

After They Sign the Offer Letter…

After your new hire signs their contract, following up with a welcome email is the best way to make a good first impression. Note how excited you are for them to be joining your company and include any key information that they need to know ahead of time. This could include:


You may also choose to attach a copy of the employee handbook to the email for the new hire to read on their own time. If there are any company policies or FAQs that you want to flag specifically, include a note for them to review this section.

Before Their First Day…

Most of the prep work in your onboarding process should be taking place before your new employee starts. In fact, studies have found that some of the world’s best companies are 53 percent more likely to do pre-boarding ahead of a new team member’s arrival. Don’t leave everything until their first day–this makes you look disorganized and like you didn’t anticipate their arrival.


Send out a company or team-wide email to announce who the new hire is and what their position will be, along with their start date information. You’ll want to include a meet-and-greet invitation for at least their immediate team, or the whole company if you’re a small business.


There are a number of logistical matters that will need to be taken care of ahead of the new hire’s arrival too:


To make their arrival extra special, consider putting together a small welcome gift from the team and leaving it on their desk. If you’re planning a welcome coffee chat or party, add this to the new employee’s calendar before they start.

On Their First Day…

Your new hire’s first day is finally here! Be at the door at least 10-15 minutes before the time that you agreed upon with your hire so that you’re there to welcome them. Remember, this is probably going to be quite an overwhelming day for them, so show them to their workspace first so that they can put down any coats or bags.


Start with a tour of the office and introduce them to the team as you walk around, including their manager. Make sure you cover the essential locations on your tour like bathrooms, kitchens, common areas, and the ever-important supply closet. 


If your employee is working from a laptop, stop back at their desk to pick it up and head into one of your conference spaces to go through the necessary first day paperwork, policies, and training. A few points that you’ll want to cover:


After that initial meeting, walk the new hire back to their desk or arrange for one of their team members to come meet them. From there, your new employee’s direct supervisor should take over to discuss the rest of the day’s schedule and get them started with any training or work for their first few days.

During the First Week…

Most of the important onboarding tasks should be completed by the end of day one, but staying in communication with your new team member in their first few weeks and months is a critical part of helping them adjust to their new job—especially as they get into their role and work through more job-specific training. 


Your employee’s supervisor should be meeting with them daily during this first week, setting milestones and goals for their training or projects. While there may be opportunities to discuss career development plans during this week, these conversations are best saved for the first month or three-month meetings.


The HR team should also schedule a check-in at the end of this first week to ensure that the employee has everything they need in terms of equipment and resources. Here are the steps in a nutshell:


During the First Month and Beyond…

You (and your new employee) will find that time really does fly and your new hire’s first month in your company is quickly over. Checking in with your employee as they become a well-established member of the team is one of the best ways to get real-time feedback and help them to feel more settled.


Send out a survey as the new team member approaches the end of their first month, repeating this at both the three and six-month points. This will give them an opportunity to share their thoughts so far, on both their role and the overall onboarding process. That’s valuable information you can use to improve the process for future hires. 

As you approach the one-year mark, the employee’s supervisor should be preparing for their annual performance review and any celebrations that you typically hold for big employee milestones. Here’s a quick overview of the steps for this phase:


Free Onboarding Checklist 

There’s certainly a large amount of information that you need to get across to your new team member and processes to take care of before they even step foot in your office. 


But having an organized onboarding checklist will help you stay on top of the process and not forget a crucial step along the way. 


To get you started, download a copy of our onboarding template and transform the experience for new team members today. Just click on this link and then “Make a Copy” for your own interactive checklist. 

First part of an onboarding checklist

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