4 Essential Onboarding Checklists for New Employees

The first interactions potential new employees have with an organization usually occur through a company’s website. A strong website is an essential tool for companies to advertise employment opportunities. It is also a great platform to effectively communicate their employer brand, values and spirit in order to capture a candidate’s attention and prompt their interest in applying to work for them, helping tap into the first steps of the candidate journey—the last step being onboarding.

And so, in many ways, providing a full and genuine onboarding experience begins as early as the recruitment and interview process. That said, it also continues on long after the hiring itself is done—and for the many months that follow.

Good onboarding practices play a key role in creating employee engagement for new joiners—and there is a significant correlation between employee engagement and employee performance within a company.

Based on research from Harvard Business Review, a positive onboarding experience can greatly enhance the integration and training phase, with the potential of bringing new joiners up to speed by 50% faster than the average and maximizing productivity. A positive onboarding experience is important for both short and long-term employee dynamics—ultimately benefiting an organization’s continued financial and structural stability. 

To help simplify your life (and maximize your time), you’ll find below easy-to-follow onboarding checklists, outlining the best practices for all phases of onboarding within the first year. For more examples, check out our template library!

The Pre-Boarding Checklist

A new joiner’s first day can be overwhelming. From anxiety, to excitement, to pressure of fitting in. That’s why we recommended connecting with new joiners beforehand. 

Setting an open line of communication and maintaining a dialogue as soon as the contract is signed allows HR managers to set the stage, create clear and realistic expectations leading up to the new job and share helpful documents. This is called “pre-boarding”—the time between when a new joiner signs their employment contract, up until their first day. 

The pre-boarding phase is also a time in which team leaders and HR managers can start the preparations to welcome their new team members. This process also involves internal communications—informing current employees of the new addition to their team and the role they will play within the company.

Three important elements to consider:

Step 1 | Communications With The New Joiner

  • Writing a welcome email, starting with a congratulatory message for joining the company, department and/or team (our basic template covers this!);
  • Highlight the start date, time of arrival, full address of the office location if applicable, and include instructions on how to get there;
  • Share the first day’s agenda, which should include pre-booked meetings and feature assigned time blocks;
  • Note the documents or equipment the new joiner should bring with them;
  • Attach a company employee handbook, which should include company background, code of conduct, dress code, and so forth;
  • Include a personalized onboarding package;
  • Introduce the contact person for their first day and include their information (CC them in the email). This person is often referred to as a buddy.

Step 2 | Communications With Current Employees

  • Send an email to current employees informing them of the new joiner, including their start date, department and team they will be joining, along with their title and role;
  • Share new joiner’s background, including prior experience, education and interests;
  • Invite team to join in on welcoming the new joiner on their first day (such as a welcome coffee), sending out a calendar invitation of the event ahead of time;
  • Encourage the team to stop by the new joiner’s office during their first week to make them feel welcomed (or to invite them for a virtual coffee if your team is remote).

Step 3 | Prepare New Joiner’s Office and Equipment

  • Order the new joiner’s equipment (ex: laptop, company phone, etc);
  • Set up the new joiner’s email account;
  • Add the new joiner to the calendar and mailing list;
  • Prepare the office access key and/or ID card;
  • Order company business cards;
  • Prepare a company welcome package;
  • Organize relevant HR documents and forms;
  • Organize (a) meet-and-greet session(s) and book relevant parties ahead of time.

The First Day Onboarding Checklist

First impressions are lasting impressions, so it’s crucial to make the first day count and for new joiners entering a company to start off on the right foot. The goal is to create an engaging onboarding experience, making the new joiner feel at ease and welcomed. 

Five key steps and activities that will help ensure the best first day:

Step 1 | Welcome Coffee and Office Tour

  • Schedule a morning coffee date with the HR point-of-contact upon arrival;
  • Give a tour of the office and facilities (or of your social platforms if your team works remotely);
  • Organize a special team welcome event and department meet-and-greet;
  • Introduce the new joiner to department heads, teams and colleagues;
  • Review information about the employee handbook and answer questions;
  • Go over the first week’s schedule and expected work hours;
  • Show them to their desk and give them their welcome package.

Step 2 | Set Up The New Joiner’s Desk and Equipment

  • Grant office access;
  • Help new joiner set up their equipment and liaise with the IT point-of-contact;
  • Provide new joiner with necessary office supplies;
  • Provide instructions for using company softwares and tools.

Step 3 | Important Documents

  • Do an overview about employee compensation & benefits;
  • Prepare a brief presentation regarding work policies and procedures;
  • Explain company safety and security policies;
  • Share necessary HR forms and contracts to sign;
  • Review code of conduct and ethics;
  • Allow time for questions.

Step 4 | Company Introduction

  • Prepare a company business presentation including an industry overview;
  • Briefly review the company’s history;
  • Explain the business mission, vision and values;
  • Highlight your company goals and objectives;
  • Explain new joiner’s impact within part of the organization.

Step 5 | Meeting With New Joiner’s Manager

  • Review company’s organizational chart;
  • Revise in detail the new joiner’s role and job description;
  • Set goals for new joiner’s first few months;
  • Discuss employer expectations for new joiner;
  • Inquire about new joiner’s career expectations;
  • Discuss new joiner’s professional development and opportunities within the organization;
  • Organize a meeting with the CEO.

The First Week Onboarding Checklist

The first week on the job is a crucial integration period for a new joiner. To ensure this first week runs smoothly, it is recommended to support all new joiners by providing a clear structure for them to follow. 

Below are some of the most recommended best practices companies should apply to support new joiners during their first week. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Daily check-ins with new joiner to make sure they are settling in;
  • Schedule weekly meetings to review employee tasks and answer questions (rituals);
  • Share and go over employee’s tasks and projects here on out;
  • Schedule relevant trainings and recommend useful readings and resources;
  • Ensure new joiner has been introduced to key colleagues;
  • Introduce employee to other teams and departments;
  • Organize and encourage them to join company social activities and gatherings;
  • Recommend for new joiner to connect with company social media accounts.

The First Year Onboarding Checklist

It is important to keep new joiners motivated in general, and especially throughout the first year. 

There are many fun and creative employee engagement activities that managers can organize to foster a positive onboarding experience and engagement. Engagement helps increase feelings of belonging. A study by Harvard Business Review highlights that a high sense of belonging leads to a 56% increase in job performance along with a 50% decrease in turnover. 

Employees who build a positive emotional tie with an organization have greater potential to become long-term, devoted members. A way to help promote positive sentiments within the workplace could be by organizing monthly team building activities, such as an off-site day outdoors with a picnic and kayaking, or creating virtual social events on Kumospace if your company is remote.

As the first year is the most critical in ensuring employee retention, here are a few key elements we recommend to implement:

The First Month

  • Invite for new joiner to complete an onboarding survey;
  • Conduct a progress review;
  • Keep employee engaged by scheduling new and interesting trainings;
  • Invite employee to join company social committees;
  • Communicate with the payroll department to ensure salary compensations are on track;
  • Organize a team building activity (team dinner, karaoke or board game night).

The 3-Month Mark

  • Continue sharing constructive feedback and request feedback in return;
  • Review progress reports and assignments;
  • Set a structure for upcoming assignments;
  • Ensure new joiner are completing the required training;
  • Schedule bi-weekly check-in meetings to ensure new joiner remains supported;
  • Discuss performance goals;
  • Conduct an informal performance review;
  • Organize a team building activity: An adventurous day of zip lining.

The 6-Month Mark

  • Schedule a mid-year performance review;
  • Discuss new joiner’s growth and 6-month progress;
  • Set end-of-year goals and objectives;
  • Ensure new joiner remains motivated and equipped to complete tasks.
  • Organize a team building activity: A group cooking course.

The 1 Year Anniversary

  • Schedule a yearly performance review;
  • Recognize employee’s accomplishments and positive impact during their first year at the company;
  • Discuss career goals and future professional path for the new joiner;
  • Discuss new projects and plans for the upcoming year;
  • Review company rewards and compensation policies;
  • Open the floor for Q&A or comments;
  • Organize a team building activity: A night of laser tag

Implementing good practices for onboarding is a fundamental piece in the talent management puzzle. As we previously mentioned, the process is directly linked to employee retention and is a proven investment. 

The recruitment and interview process is the starting point for a company to build strong relationships with candidates and showcase employer brand, but it is equally (if not more) important that these relationships should further be nurtured throughout the first 12 months of employment.

Great onboarding is, simply put, a structured action plan highlighting the steps and procedures to follow during the early stages of a new joiner’s onboarding experience, playing an important role within employee retention strategies. The checklists provided in this article are relevant to any market or industry, serving the purpose of organizing essential steps for HR and project managers to follow.

However, it is important to note that a strong onboarding experience goes beyond lists and forms. Remember that it is about making new joiners feel welcomed, immersing them into the company culture and fostering real connections.

Although a new joiner’s onboarding experience typically ends around the one-year mark, the underlying principles of fostering employee engagement should always remain present.