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New Hire Onboarding Checklist and Guide


A thorough onboarding process helps new hires acclimate to their roles and teams and better understand job expectations. Successful new hire onboarding also leads to better job performance, increased efficiency and higher employee satisfaction—contributing to higher engagement and employee retention rates. In other words, a comprehensive onboarding process ensures a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Preparing new hires for their jobs takes many steps, and many of them set the entire tone for your employer/employee relationship going forward. Using an onboarding checklist lets you tick those steps off your to-do list as you go so you don’t omit crucial items during those first busy days, weeks and months. Let’s take a comprehensive look at the topic of onboarding so you know what the process entails and what steps to include on your onboarding checklist.

Hands checking a box on an illustrated checklist. Text reads: "New hire onboarding checklist:Prepare new hire paperwork,Set up accounts & create logins,Conduct employee training & orientation,Schedule checkin plan"

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A guide to onboarding new hires

Do you think you do a good job of welcoming new employees? According to Gallup, only 29% of new hires feel their companies’ onboarding process sets them up for success. Likewise, this process can affect a new hire’s experience with the company and determine how long they stay. With the importance of this process in mind, let’s explore what onboarding is and how you can improve your plan for introducing new employees to your workplace.

What is an employee onboarding process?

The onboarding process is a set program of activities that helps new hires settle into their roles with the right tools, information and assistance. During the process, employees learn about the social aspects of your workplace and the performance expectations of their jobs. This crucial period offers opportunities for building relationships, giving encouragement and providing feedback.

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*Indeed provides these examples as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your HR or legal adviser, and none of these documents reflect current labor or employment regulations.

Why you should focus on employee onboarding

Recruiting and hiring can be expensive, with replacement costs coming in at roughly 33% of employees’ base salaries. While there are many reasons why people might leave new jobs quickly, having a strong onboarding process can help you hold onto your new hires and potentially reduce costs.

Effective onboarding helps your newest employees feel like a part of the team and the company culture from the beginning. This warm welcome makes them more likely to feel engaged, which can improve performance and encourage them to stay with the company longer. Gallup reports that only 33% of employees feel engaged, so finding ways to increase that number can help your company perform better as a whole.

An effective onboarding process also helps new employees perform their full duties at a faster speed. Having the necessary tools and information right from the outset lets them jump into their tasks and show you what they can do. This process also offers ample opportunities for them to ask for help and raise concerns.

How long should onboarding last?

The new hire onboarding process typically lasts for at least the first 90 days on the job, but some companies stretch out the onboarding process for the first year. Each part of the plan has different goals and activities to help your newest staff members settle into a routine and get the support they need. This means that if your budget can handle it, stretching out the onboarding process over a longer period ensures continued encouragement and evaluation to get employees off to a successful start.

Timetable for the onboarding process

Having an onboarding process for all employees ensures that every new staff member gets adequate support. This timetable breaks down the onboarding process into logical chunks so you know where to start while developing one for your company.

Before the first day

Pre-arrival onboarding sets expectations for the first day and provides necessary information before starting. It helps put new employees at ease and makes the first day run smoothly.

  • Email new hires a welcome packet with essential paperwork.
  • Provide an itinerary for the first day and week.
  • Set up logins and equipment requests.
  • Prepare the workstation.
  • Send a new employee announcement to other employees.
  • Consult with team members, trainers and mentors.

First day

On the first day, help new hires become familiar with the company. It’s a chance to get orientation tasks out of the way, introduce them to the team and set them up for their first work assignments.

  • Schedule orientation.
  • Welcome them and show them to their workstations.
  • Provide a tour of the facility.
  • Plan a team lunch or other informal introduction.
  • Introduce them to their assigned mentors.
  • Deliver a high-level overview of job duties.

First week

The first week should build off of the first day, helping new hires become more familiar with their new workplace, colleagues and specific duties. It also eases them into assignments and gets others involved in helping them learn their new roles.

  • Introduce programs or equipment their roles require.
  • Walk them through various parts of their jobs.
  • Start specific training programs.
  • Have mentors and managers check in to answer questions.
  • Touch base at the end of the week for feedback.

First month

During the first month, the onboarding process helps new hires fully learn their job responsibilities and additional company policies. Early evaluations ensure the new employee progresses as expected.

  • Schedule weekly one-on-ones with a manager.
  • Train them on more advanced job duties.
  • Increase work assignments.
  • Have mentors check in at least once per week.

First 90 days

By the 90-day mark, most employees should be comfortable with their job duties and understand how things work around the office. Focus on employee development and continued work independence at this point.

  • Continue weekly or biweekly one-on-ones.
  • Increase the number and complexity of job assignments.
  • Provide regular performance feedback.
  • Set short-term goals at the beginning.
  • Toward the end of the 90 days, work on employees’ career paths.
  • Hold a formal performance review at the three-month mark.
  • Have mentor meetings regularly for continued development.
  • Introduce them to formal and informal social events within the company.

90 days+

Once an employee reaches 90 days, the support is often fewer and more time between, but it’s important to keep monitoring and supporting new employees. At this point, make sure employees continue to grow and feel challenged.

  • Continue with formal evaluations every three months for the first year.
  • Ensure they fully integrate into the team and workflow.
  • Provide additional support to help new hires catch up if needed.
  • Invite employees to join committees or take on other responsibilities.

Steps to include on a new hire onboarding checklist

Effective onboarding ensures new hires assimilate into the company culture and better align themselves with company goals. When done successfully, the process helps them feel at home in their new roles, promoting increased productivity, reduced turnover and a more satisfied workforce. Use this list to make sure your employee onboarding plan meets these objectives.

1. Make it official with HR

If your company has a human resources department, submit a job requisition document for approval before hiring. The HR team may also require a completed background check and drug test before you can officially hire a new employee. Next, close open positions and remove any live postings on internal and external job boards.

2. Prepare new hire paperwork

Gather all the electronic or hard copy documents new hires must complete on their first day. This paperwork typically includes tax documents, contracts or agreements, payroll information and other new employee forms. You can either print off the employee handbook or provide them with a link to a copy on your internal company website.

Next, provide information about compensation packages for review, with a point of contact highlighted in case they have questions about benefits or pay. You might also include the job description as a reminder of your company’s expectations for their roles.

3. Procure devices and equipment

Request all devices and equipment several days in advance to ensure you have them ready to go on their first day. You should have everything from their computer and phone to keyboard and mouse hooked up and ready to use from the moment they arrive.

4. Set up accounts and create logins

Contact your IT team, facilities manager and accounting department to ensure they’ve set them up in all relevant systems and that they have the credentials necessary to enter the building. Likewise, make sure they have company email accounts and login information for tools and platforms so they can seamlessly access the applications and software they need to do their jobs.

5. Set up the workspace

Put together a clean, comfortable workspace for new hires, with a desk, chair and anything else they need at their workstations. If possible, gather company branded swag, office supplies or a simple gift like a mug or small plant to create a welcome kit. If you’re hiring remote employees, consider sending a box of swag to their home address that arrives on their first day on the job.

6. Schedule new hire orientation

Set aside time during the first day for new hire orientation. Ideally, this gives employees time to sign paperwork and an opportunity to learn about the company culture, review the organizational chart and discover how various departments interact.

7. Send a welcome email to your new employee

Prior to a new hire’s first day, send them an email welcoming them to the company. This welcome email should also provide them with important details about what they can expect when they arrive, such as a start date reminder, parking and dress code information and their first day schedule. Use these new employee welcome email examples to create your own customized version.

8. Perform a building tour

If your business has a physical location, give new employees a tour of the workplace and introduce them to key personnel. Provide them with a map of the building and their access code or key so they can get to their workspaces and find their way around. In particular, this tour should explain any security protocols and point out common areas such as bathrooms, break rooms and meeting spaces.

9. Assign a peer mentor

Introduce new hires to a peer, or buddy, within their department who can act as a mentor during their first few weeks on the job. This person should be comfortable with answering questions, introducing the employee to others and even helping with employee training. Having a mentor offers support and guidance as they navigate new roles in an unfamiliar environment.

10. Send a new employee announcement

Welcome new hires to the team by sending a new employee announcement email or sharing the news during a company meeting. Let current employees know the positions new hires fill and help break the ice. For example, you might share new hires’ hobbies, interests and a brief professional background.

In your announcement, encourage other team members to say hello and extend a personal welcome when they see new hires around the workplace. Consider inviting new hires out to lunch with their teams on the first day so they feel welcome and valued from day one.

11. Schedule time for onboarding feedback

Arrange time to meet with new employees after their first week or two. This meeting should give you a feel for how they’re adjusting and whether they have any input concerning their onboarding plan. This conversation could expose areas of opportunity within your onboarding process or items you can add to your checklist.

12. Set up a 30-, 60- and 90-day check-in plan

Schedule time to touch base with new hires at regular intervals, including after their first month, second month and first quarter. These meetings should offer employees opportunities to share concerns or feedback about their training and discuss how well they’re adapting to their roles.

Depending on your objectives, you may want to add or subtract steps from your new hire onboarding process. While your plan may be a living document, creating a well-organized onboarding checklist can ensure a smooth, seamless experience for new hires, managers and coworkers alike.

Onboarding process FAQs

What is the difference between employee orientation and employee onboarding?

Employee orientation is a short-term program at the start of employment designed to welcome employees. It often includes things like introducing the employee around the office, handling paperwork and touring the facility. Orientation, often considered a part of onboarding, is typically a smaller, one-time event.

Employee onboarding, on the other hand, is a longer-term support system — sometimes lasting up to a year — that pulls in different people throughout the organization. It involves a variety of events and supports, focusing on how to help the new hire be successful.

Who should be involved in employee onboarding?

Managers and supervisors play a key role in the onboarding process. This gives your new staff members a chance to build relationships with them. HR often plays a role in onboarding for things like handling paperwork and getting necessary equipment. It’s also common to assign a peer mentor to new hires.

Can you start onboarding before the employee’s first day?

Yes, this is also known as preboarding. Engaging new employees before they start helps them feel more at ease. Getting a jump start on sharing information or having employees fill out paperwork lets you focus more on the experience on the first day.

A new employee welcome email is a good way to kick off the onboarding process. It should include all important information needed before the first day. Receiving info on what to bring, where to go and what to expect can put your new hires at ease.

How do you develop an onboarding process for the first time?

Determine the length of the process, with a minimum of 90 days. Break down the process into smaller chunks based on the progress you expect new employees to make. The onboarding process might look different for each position based on what that role needs.

Creating a new hire onboarding checklist ensures you cover all of the important activities. This should include things like paperwork, necessary equipment, account and login setups, orientation and assigning a mentor.

If you have remote employees, you might need to make adjustments to your virtual onboarding process. You need to arrange to get equipment to the employee, and all of the onboarding activities happen virtually. It often takes more effort and communication to help remote employees feel like a part of the team.

Download Checklist

*Indeed provides these examples as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your HR or legal adviser, and none of these documents reflect current labor or employment regulations.

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