New Hire Checklist: 20 Onboarding Steps for New Employees

Onboarding is still a topic of disagreement between HR groups and new employees. Only 12% of surveyed employees think their company does a good job of welcoming new workers. This is staggeringly low—but also an excellent opportunity to improve on it and drive retention up.  And considering that around half of the surveyed firms with a well-designed onboarding process had greater new hire retention than those without a program, having a structured onboarding experience seems like a great HR strategy—and a good business idea.

To help you build a sound onboarding checklist, this article provides a step-by-step new hire guide to ensure a smooth transition for your new employees. We'll cover everything from essential paperwork to introductions, training, and strategies for engagement in the following new employee onboarding checklist.

Why Is It Important to Have a Well-Organized Onboarding Process for New Employees?

Attracting and hiring top talent is already a significant investment. However, a weak onboarding process can quickly undermine that investment

Here's why a well-organized onboarding program through an employee onboarding checklist is crucial:

Reduced turnover costs

Studies show a significant portion of new employees leave or decide to leave within the first few months, leading to costly (re)recruitment efforts. A structured new hire checklist reduces turnover by setting clear expectations, generating engagement, and making employees feel valued from day one.

Better ROI on new hires

New hires who receive proper training and support become productive team members faster. A well-defined new hire onboarding checklist ensures all essential steps are taken to get them acclimated and contributing quickly.

Improved employee engagement

New hires seek clear communication and a sense of purpose. Onboarding helps them understand the company culture, their role within the team, and how their work contributes to the organization's goals. A new hire checklist is key to achieving this.

💡 Did you know that a Brandon Hall Group report strongly suggested that organizations with strong employee onboarding can increase retention by 82%?

What Does a New Hire Onboarding Process Include?

A well-structured onboarding checklist is more than just paperwork and introductions. It's a strategic process designed to smoothly integrate new hires into the company culture, set them up for measurable success, and cultivate a sense of belonging. A way to guarantee its success is through a new hire checklist—an employee handbook.

Here's a breakdown of the key phases a new hires checklist must include:

Pre-boarding (Before the First Day)

  • Welcome and set expectations
  • Simplify paperwork
  • Workstation setup

Orientation (First Few Days)

  • Warm introductions and overview
  • Policy awareness
  • Initial training
  • Team-building activities

Integration and Ongoing Development (First Few Months)

  • Goal setting
  • Mentorship program
  • Continued learning
  • Regular feedback and check-ins

Let’s take a closer look at these new hire checklist elements.

The 20 Must-Have Steps of Every New Hire Onboarding Checklist

First impressions matter too much when onboarding new hires. Retaining new talent starts with a smooth and successful onboarding process.

This new hire checklist works as your welcome mat, ensuring a smooth transition and promoting a sense of belonging.

Pre-boarding: Setting the Stage

1. Warm welcome e-mail: HR sends a warm e-mail introducing the new hire to key contacts and outlining what to expect on their first day.

2. Personalized introduction: The hiring manager sends a personalized e-mail expressing excitement about the new team member joining.

3. Simplified paperwork: Forget stacks of new hire forms. New hires should electronically complete essential documents through a user-friendly portal.

4. Workspace ready: IT prepares the workspace with a computer, phone, and any necessary equipment, eliminating first-day stress. Also, they gather the login credentials—and make sure new hires have the adequate subscriptions to use their software.

First-Day Orientation

5. Genuine welcome: HR and the manager greet the new hire and try to make them feel comfortable.

6. Meet the team: Introduce the new hires to the team, promoting connections and collaboration.

7. Company compass: Provide a clear overview of the company's mission, values, and structure, giving them context for their role.

8. Policy pointers: Review essential company policies like dress code, benefits, and safety procedures, ensuring everyone's on the same page.

9. Tech toolkit: IT assists the new hire with setting up their essential software and tools, allowing them to jump right in.

First-Day Orientation

10. Early morning office tour: The new hire will arrive early, so set that alarm clock for the first day. Give the new hire a tour of the office and company facilities—they can’t miss the watercooler. This is better done by the manager than by the HR department.

11. Benefits breakdown: HR guides the new hires through benefits enrollment options. Benefits are easier to communicate and apply from a centralized hub.

12. Learning launch: Begin role-specific training to equip the new hire with foundational knowledge and skills for their job.

13. Team lunch connection: Schedule a team lunch to help the new hire connect with colleagues in a casual setting. This is not a luncheon—you need new employees to loosen up.

14. One-on-one with the manager: The manager should also sit down with the new hire to discuss expectations, answer questions, and ensure a good start. A 15-minute coffee break is enough.

Integration and Ongoing Development

15. Goal-setting collaboration: Collaborate with the new hire to establish clear performance goals for the coming months.

16. Mentorship match or “shadowing”: Assign a mentor or a “onboarding buddy” to provide ongoing support, so that your new employee can “shadow participate” in meetings and catch the lingo.

17. Lifelong learning: Provide additional role-specific training and development opportunities. This step is often overlooked, and companies that take it seriously do well. Take Adobe, which uses its Career Check-In program to encourage employees to make professional development plans.

18. Regular check-ins: Schedule regular meetings with the manager to provide feedback, address concerns, and ensure the new hire feels supported.

19. Feedback focus: Send a short survey to gather feedback from the new hires about their onboarding experience, allowing for continuous improvement.

20. Bonus: Remote Onboarding Process

While core onboarding principles remain the same, creating a sense of connection is extremely important for remote employees. Since you can't tour the office, consider these special steps for your new hire checklist:

  • Welcome them home: Hook them up in style with a special delivery of company swag so they can post a first-day-at-work pic on LinkedIn.
  • Tech Q&A: Start with a live session to ensure comfort with equipment and logins. Not everyone is used to having an encryption client on their laptops!
  • Beat screen fatigue: Schedule regular breaks throughout virtual onboarding sessions. It's good if their first week goes smoothly.

One of the ways to make sure you hit every checklist item is with onboarding software. Onboarding software can simplify many of these steps of the new hire checklist, especially because it could have a profile of the new hires already created by the time the new hire paperwork is signed and sealed. Let’s explore its benefits!

The Benefits of an Onboarding Software

Onboarding software is a digital platform designed to streamline the process of integrating new hires into your organization. It automates new hires' tasks, making their experience less stressful and more organized.

Here's how onboarding software benefits both hiring managers and new hires:

  • A streamlined experience: If the onboarding software is the same as the recruiting software, it’s just another step in the recruitment lifecycle.
  • Clear and simple communication: A single hub for getting recruited and then getting into the company makes the conversation easy to follow up for everybody. It’s also better for your employer brand.
  • Improved retention: A good onboarding can make employees stay up to three years. That’s how powerful the onboarding is. HR software will streamline it.
  • Gathering metrics from the start: If the onboarding software also has people analytics, you'll get data about how the new employee is doing from the moment they say “Hello, world.”

Implement Onboarding Software to Take the Most Out of The New Hire Checklist

What do we mean by saying to take the most out of the new hire checklist? Since the focus is on the outcome, we mean effectively retaining your new employees and improving your business productivity. Onboarding software is a great tool for achieving these goals of the new hire checklist.

TalentHR offers onboarding software within a comprehensive HR solution. This solution provides a single platform to efficiently manage your workforce, track specific employee data, and easily onboard new hires.

You can use it to build out your employee onboarding process, define your training program, automate onboarding tasks, store employee records, and so much more. What’s better—it’s the same platform on which you ran the ad, so you won’t be hopping between plenty of HR tools.

Register now for free and automate HR tasks as soon as possible.

To learn more about how software can improve a company’s onboarding process for human resources, visit TalentHR.

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