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The ultimate new hire onboarding checklist

Set your employee up for success and give them the strongest start possible with our new hire onboarding checklist. It includes our best practices for before, during, and after their start date! Available as a Google Sheet or an Excel file.

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How to use this checklist

In this template, we’ve included the most common elements that we’ve found for a great new hire onboarding experience. It includes our best practices for before, during, and after the employee’s start date; we find that the time between an employee’s acceptance of an offer and their first day is a really vulnerable period, and we want to make sure that they feel welcome and prepared as much as possible.

Once you have recruited and selected the right candidate, your onboarding process should kick off quickly. This checklist is designed as a great foundation to crafting a formal, highly effective onboarding plan…and it’s completely customizable, so feel free to make it all your own!

And remember: employee onboarding is about far more than just the paperwork. It’s also about getting to know them personally. (We’ve included those key social elements, and they hold true even if you’re onboarding an employee remotely!)

 

Download this template:
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What you’ll find in this new hire onboarding checklist (& quick tips!)

There are four separate sections within this checklist template:

BEFORE THE NEW HIRE’S FIRST DAY


There are two main goals of this time frame for new hire onboarding: (1) making sure the employee is prepped and excited about their first day, and (2) making sure your company is prepped and excited for the employee’s  arrival. 🙂

Here’s a sample of what we included in this section, including a lot of the administrative requirements of a new hire!

  • Send the offer letter.
  • Determine the employee’s start date and confirm it with the hiring manager. 
  • Send an email, text message, or short video message welcoming them to the team. 
  • Share a link to an online team directory so they can get to know the company. 
  • Collect personal information, such as address and emergency contacts.
  • Ask whether they have any allergies, dietary preferences, or special needs.
  • Complete the I-9 form with the employee. They must complete Section 1 by the end of their first day, and Section 2 within three business days of their first day of work. (If you’re hiring an employee remotely, please read SHRM’s guidance on how to handle the I-9!)
  • Ask the employee to fill out a direct deposit authorization form. (This form won’t be necessary if they’ll be receiving paychecks instead.)
  • Set up an email account for the new hire and create business cards. Send log-in instructions by email so that the employee has an active email account from the beginning of day one.
  • Inform the IT team to set up a new device, and all necessary permissions and credentials ready. Make sure the computer has all the software that the employee needs.
  • Set up a fully functioning workstation. Consider adding little welcome elements (balloons, a team message, etc.) as well. 
  • Have the hiring manager or CEO send an email, text message, or short video message welcoming them to the team. 
  • Send first-day instructions to the new hire (where to go, what time, security details, what to bring with them, what to wear, etc.)
  • Assign a buddy for their first day. Make sure that buddy is available to them, either for a welcome, lunch, coffee, etc.

This is by far the most robust part of onboarding, but for good reason: there’s a lot to do, and it’s actually a fairly delicate time for your new hire (they may be getting competing offers, may be nervous about the move, etc.). Making them feel incredibly welcome, prepared, and excited will do absolute wonders to ensure they show up and have an amazing first day at work!

ON THE NEW HIRE’S FIRST DAY

It’s day one! There is so much amazing energy to channel on this day, so don’t let it go to waste. This section is designed to bring the new hire into the company’s culture with open arms, but not to absolutely overwhelm them off the bat.

Here’s a preview of this part of the new hire onboarding checklist:

  • Make sure the employee has access to all the software and company logins that they’ll need. 
  • Train the new hire on company security practices, such as how to store passwords, creating strong passwords, 2FA, how often to change passwords, sharing passwords, internal company info vs external company info, how to spot phishing, how to inspect links, etc.
  • Introduce them to their buddy/mentor for the week. 
  • Introduce the training schedule for the week.
  • Take them on a tour/company walkthrough. Be sure to show the employee where the basics are located: the bathrooms, the fridge, the break room, etc. It’s helpful to give your new hire of the office and just where you’re located in general, including the building and local neighborhood (for example, where the good coffee or lunch spots are!)
  • Discuss the company goals and their department goals. 
  • Buy them lunch! You can also have your hiring manager or a small portion of their team take them out. If they’re remote, arrange for a delivery. 
  • Invite them to any recurring all-hands or department meetings they should attend. 
  • Remind the manager of the new employee to send out a welcome message to all employees to announce the arrival of a new team member.

DURING THE NEW HIRE’S FIRST WEEK


The first week is a LOT of information for any new employee, so make sure they have some great anchors and solid checkpoints throughout this time. Give them a task or two that’s easy to complete to help build up momentum, make sure they have one-on-one time with their managers, and make sure they have a lot of expectations set right up front.

Here’s a look at what we’ve included in our new employee’s first week: 

  • Set up check-ins. Plan a shorter check-in for the end of the first week to make sure all of their documentation is in order, and a more formal one after their first month.
  • Make sure the employee’s manager schedules regular 1-1 meetings with them.
  • Make sure their manager works with them to assign a simple task or project. 
  • Make sure they understand emergency procedures and general crisis comms.
  • Have them schedule time with any recommended stakeholders or key colleagues.
  • Send out a quick survey about their onboarding experience, and keep it to 5-7 questions. This will help you pinpoint anything that needs improvement, and show the new hire their opinions matter when it comes to improving company culture.

DURING THE NEW HIRE’S FIRST MONTH


Here we go! We typically find that the first month is primarily about understanding the company and the team. Connecting the employee with stakeholders, employee resources groups, and more will go a long way to making them feel really welcome and included.
Check that the employee’s payroll is running smoothly and they haven’t had any trouble with their benefits.

Here’s a quick view at this part of our onboarding checklist:

  • Remember to report that you’ve made a new hire to the appropriate state agency within 20 days of their start date. Add in a due date on your new hire checklist for next time because some states require you to tell them sooner — be sure to check the reporting timeframe for yours.
  • Sponsor certification programs if needed.
  • Discuss the performance review process.
  • Make sure their manager works with them to outline a longer roadmap.
  • Give an overview of employee resource groups and how to join.

After 30 days, you’ll want them to firmly embrace their new role and the performance expectations associated with that. Congratulations on successfully onboarding a new hire, and cheers to the next time!

Download this template:
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