Set Up New Employees for Success: A Comprehensive Onboarding Checklist

Onboarding marks a new hire’s first experience at a company and leaves a lasting impression. However, welcoming new employees the right way requires significant preparation and extends beyond introductions and new hire paperwork.

Creating a strong, engaging onboarding process is key to helping your business attract and retain top talent.

A new hire checklist helps you create a system for onboarding employees and ensure that your team stays on track. A checklist isn’t the entire onboarding process, but it’s a good tool to help you successfully integrate a new hire into your company, culture, and their specific role.

An Onboarding Checklist Prepares New Employees for Success

Onboarding is a strategic, comprehensive process that can last up to a year. Here’s a checklist for what you should include in your onboarding process:

A Welcome Kit

Design an employee welcome kit to help your new employee feel welcomed and like they’re already part of the team. Include practical items like the employee handbook, benefits information, and office supplies, as well as fun items like company swag, snacks, and even a gift card for fun things like meals or tech.

Necessary Paperwork

Onboarding requires a lot of paperwork, whether you have onsite or remote employees. In the US, you will need the following paperwork from every new hire:

  • I-9 for verification of identity and right to work in the US
  • W-4 that indicates the amount an employer should withhold from the new hire’s paycheck for federal tax compliance
  • State tax withholding form, if applicable
  • Direct deposit form to set up bank details for payroll 

You may also need a background check, an employee agreement, emergency contact forms, benefit enrollment forms, nondisclosure agreements, and any other paperwork your company requires.

Workstation setup

Your employee’s workstation should be prepped before they come in for their first day. Make sure the area is cleared and all necessary equipment is set up. You should also set up employee user accounts and logins and make sure everything is running smoothly.

If your employee is working remotely, connect in advance to make sure they have the necessary equipment. If you provide stipends for remote work, provide it early enough for your employee to purchase equipment and set it up.

A tour of the office

Provide a tour for new hires to show them where the restrooms, conference rooms, parking spots, and break rooms are located. This is also an opportunity to introduce your new employee to managers and peers.

Role-specific training

If you have mandatory onboarding courses, ensure that the new hire has access to them and understands what courses to complete. If there is role-specific training, make sure it’s scheduled and includes all the systems and tools a new hire will need to perform their job.

Performance goals and expectations

Setting expectations is an important part of your new hire’s success. Make sure to schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss expectations and help the new employee transition into their role. You should also provide the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be necessary for the role, such as expected output or projects completed.

Regular check-ins

Your employee will take time to adjust to the workplace. Schedule check-ins to touch base and see if they’re getting what they need. Your check-ins should be at the end of the first day, at the end of the first week, at the end of the first and second months, and at the end of the quarter to gather feedback and ensure that your employee is still set up to succeed. Consider giving work anniversary gifts for these milestones as a gesture of appreciation.

The Role of Incentives in Onboarding

Employee appreciation is a key part of attracting and retaining talent. Incentives can serve as powerful tools to motivate and recognize new hires and foster a positive experience. Unlike company swag or items they may not need, gift cards are a practical solution that can be customized to your employee’s preferences.

For example, give a new transfer hire a gift card for a local restaurant to welcome them to the city and your company. If you know your new employee is into wellness, a gift card for a fitness center is a great idea.

Consider offering bulk gift cards as part of your welcome kit or as incentives for specific milestones in the process, such as the 30-day anniversary.

Evaluate the Success of Your Onboarding Program

A new hire checklist not only sets you up for a streamlined onboarding process at the start, but it gives you a benchmark to measure your success. Regularly review and update your onboarding process based on employee feedback to make sure you’re delivering the experience you want.

Onboarding can be an overwhelming experience for new employees, but following a new hire onboarding checklist can ensure your employee feels welcomed, comfortable, and prepared to perform in their new position.

Contributed to EO by Cindy Mielke, Vice President of Strategic Partners at Tango. She is a Certified Professional of Incentive Management who proudly serves on two industry boards and is passionate about the incentive industry.

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Categories: Best Practices Company Culture PEOPLE/STAFF


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