This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Onboarding new employees is the process of integrating a new team member into your company culture, ethos, policies, and teams. The goal is to provide the new hire with the tools and information needed to become productive and help them feel welcome. Prepare your new employee for success by:
- Confirming new hire data before first day
- Providing welcome materials
- Introducing new employees to other team members
- Holding a formal orientation
- Defining job responsibilities
- Discussing strategic growth
- Providing company training
- Scheduling regular performance reviews
Our new hire onboarding checklist is designed to provide you with the best practices you should follow when onboarding your new employees. It can be downloaded and customized to fit your business needs.
Step 1: Prepare for Your New Hire
Before your new employee begins their first day with your company, we suggest mapping out your onboarding plan. Ensure you have all the pre-hire paperwork and have
- Confirmed all documents from the hiring process have been signed and verified, including the offer letter
- Verified the salary and start date
- Set up all IT systems and equipped the new hire to use office equipment, including computer, printer, building access keys, company software, and more
- Prepared a welcome packet that includes new hire paperwork, payroll information, a summary of benefits, the employee handbook, etc.
Additionally, prepare the new employee’s schedule, especially if they are an hourly employee who may work during different shifts throughout the week. Consider using scheduling templates and software—they can help streamline your employee scheduling demands overall. We recommend:
- Homebase: Best for brick-and-mortar businesses (such as retail and restaurants); free for one location
- When I Work: Best for shift-based workplaces (such as medical and professional services); free 14-day trial
Considering the unique challenges of developing a robust onboarding program, we have found that partnering with outside providers, like a professional employer organization (PEO), can greatly help with managing your team members.
Step 2: Provide Welcome Materials
On the first day on the job, your new hire should receive welcome materials that include paperwork and a generalized exposure to their new role. Give your new hire time to digest the new employee forms and fill out needed documents.
All of the personnel information that you need should be included in the first section of any packet (even if it is an electronically shared packet). The welcome materials packet should have:
- Payroll related forms—such as W-4, a direct deposit form, and Form I-9
- Personal information and contact numbers (create an employee data sheet with emergency contact information)
- Employee handbook (have the employee review and sign it and ensure they understand your employment at-will policy)
- Company policies unique to your business that aren’t covered in your employee handbook; examples include sexual harassment policies, maternity leave policies, and time off policies
- Confidentiality or nondisclosure agreement
- Employment contract
- Job description
- Background check authorization (if relevant)
- Drug screening approval (if relevant)
- Summary of benefits
- Organizational chart with important emails
Use a new hire checklist to ensure you are providing your new hire with all necessary documents.
Step 3: Hold a Formal Company Orientation
The new hire should participate in a new employee orientation, which orients them to the company culture. While the onboarding process can (and probably should) last up to a year, overall new hire orientation (including the presentation) should be established within the first week of employment. This can be a presentation via video or PowerPoint or simply a sit-down with HR.
The orientation should touch on the following:
- Company history and culture
- Mission statement—values and vision
Step 4: Clearly Define Job Responsibilities
Although your new hire may have experience in their assigned role, they may not have experience working in your industry or with your specific product or service. Be sure to sit down with them and discuss the job description and role requirements. We recommend utilizing both the employee’s job description and a company organizational chart when sharing with the new team member what their role is all about as the organization strives to meet its strategic goals.
The goal of effectively sharing the employee’s role is to first review what the details of their job are (using the job description) and who in the company their role will be impacting (using the organizational chart). The organizational chart shows who all team members are, and it is the supervisor’s job to connect the new employee’s role to the many other positions throughout the organization. It is important to show how their job impacts other roles and projects within the company—whether directly or indirectly.
Step 5: Discuss Their Strategic Growth Plan
Each employee within your organization should have a clearly defined strategic growth plan that outlines their goals and responsibilities. The growth plan should be specific and focus on the employee’s continued improvement within their position.
When developing a growth plan within a specific position, be sure to
- Set clear, SMART goals
- Add an educational plan for training and development
- Implement strategies for success
- Analyze results with performance management
Your new employee should clearly understand their role and responsibilities related to the growth plan and have a clear understanding of how to achieve those goals.
Step 6: Introduce the New Team Member
The new team member should be introduced to their immediate team and the entire company within their first week of employment. This helps to acclimate the employee to their environment and allows them to meet the employees they may need to interact with regularly.
If your company has remote employees, consider an all-company meeting where you can introduce new team members to the rest of the company via video conferencing (such as Skype or Zoom).
Step 7: Provide Role-specific Training
Throughout the first months on the job, the new employee should be exposed to education and training sessions specific to their role. This goes beyond the basic training performed during orientation (where the employee learns their role) and encompasses more detailed training sessions.
Personalized training provides the necessary education for employees and helps them keep track of their progress. Training management software can be used to deliver courses and track progress in one easy place.
Step 8: Schedule Regular Performance Evaluations
Throughout the first year of employment and as your new employee is getting settled into their role, it is important to schedule performance evaluations. This ensures the employee is following their growth plan and meeting metrics set for success with the company.
By the end of the first month on the job, your new employee should be aware of performance expectations. This is the time to check in with them to ensure they have the tools and resources to be successful. Have the supervisor sit down one-on-one with the new hire for an informal conversation and to answer the new hire’s questions.
- Ask them how training is coming along. What do they need more training on?
- Find out how they’re getting along with co-workers. Any early issues to address?
- Ask about policies, procedures, and work practices. Do they find anything confusing?
- Check if they understand and have completed their medical and other benefits enrollments.
- Determine if they have the contacts they need. Do you need to make introductions?
- Find out what they’re struggling with. Who can help them resolve or learn more?
- Ask if there are any tools or resources they need to be more productive.
- Review the performance management process. If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good time to set initial performance goals so that they’re clear on your expectations.
- Consider modifying your expectations during the first few months to focus on learning and mastery, rather than on meeting numbers-based performance goals.
The first 90 days on the job (considered the employment probation period) is a time frame when the employee and your business are determining whether the employee will be a good fit. The employee may be receiving follow-ups from job applications they made before accepting the position with your firm, so don’t stop selling them on the benefits of working at your company.
Here are several ways to engage and inspire the employee:
- Provide additional training and education: On-the-job training provides the most value to new employees so that they can learn their tasks. Off-site and online training are great ways to develop employee skills. Consider training on software, writing, safety, presentation skills, and leadership.
- Conduct performance reviews: A 90-day feedback session is a great way to share what you see that’s positive in the employee’s performance. Ask them what they need from the company or you. This is a time to establish performance expectations and find out what the employee needs to succeed. What could you or the company do better? How could processes be streamlined?
- Offer team building: Great companies provide opportunities for team members to build strong co-worker relationships. Consider ways to help the team build trust and appreciation, like hosting an after-hours event or a team lunch.
- Ask them to contribute to other projects: Once your employee has begun to understand their specific job, consider ways that they can contribute to projects. Projects expose them to other employees in the company and help them build relationships.
Onboarding shouldn’t end once your new hire passes their first 90 days. If you continue onboarding throughout the employee’s first year, you’ll have a much better chance of keeping them motivated, engaged, and productive.
Communicate with your employee about the following:
- Tasks that are ongoing during your new hire’s first year.
- Best practice HR activities, such as providing two-way ongoing feedback, giving the employee new training and development opportunities, and scheduling monthly sit-down conversations with their manager or with HR to “check in.”
- Discuss the employee’s job responsibilities. Are they enjoying the job? Are there personality conflicts between the new hire and the supervisor?
- Keep the lines of communication open. Schedule monthly conversations as part of onboarding that first year.
At the end of the first year, celebrate your new hire’s onboarding success with a company-wide announcement and perhaps a first anniversary gift. The end of the first year marks a transition from a new hire to an experienced employee. That’s worth recognizing.
Objectives of Great Onboarding
The reason for ensuring that you have a solid onboarding experience for new team members is because of the value it adds for the new hire and the organization. It leads to optimal organizational performance—which is how you can measure your return on investment (ROI). Successful onboarding also:
- Ensures legal compliance: A robust onboarding process includes many requirements and legal obligations.
- Deploys consistent experience: Maintaining an onboarding program that all new employees receive ensures that everyone gets a thorough welcome and direction.
- Makes new hires feel “at home”: The purpose of an onboarding program that offers a comprehensive experience is to embrace new employees so that they feel welcome at the earliest stages possible.
- Leads to better ROI: When a thorough onboarding process meets talented and ambitious new hires, companies get an incredible ROI.
- Improves employee retention: When you hire an employee you are investing in people. It takes money, people, and time to properly onboard new team members. Safeguarding your investment by retaining your top employees is critical to compete in business.
Rippling is a strong contributor to building solid onboarding processes, as its entire software is built to manage all human resource-related needs, including benefits management, time tracking, scheduling, and payroll.
Onboarding for Transitioning or Remote Employees
Although everyone thinks of new employees when discussing employee onboarding, there are a few employee groups that require a renewed introduction to parts (or all) of the company and its processes. Whether it is an extended period away from work or moving into another region of the company, large changes can more easily be embraced with onboarding processes.
Returning From Extended Leave
Employees who took unpaid time off (30 days or more) or have been out on medical leave for a long period (including new parents or primary caretakers for elderly parents), should get at least an abridged onboarding experience in the areas that have experienced change or been newly developed since their departure.
Returning Retired (Boomerang) Employees
Employees who have retired from their full-time job only to return to the same company and even their same team in a part-time capacity may need re-onboarding or perhaps to go through an interview process.
Temporary Workers or Contractors Hired Into Full-time Positions
Temporary staff typically do not receive full onboarding, but they will need some. Likewise, it is not uncommon for independent contractors to be hired on to the company’s payroll; thus, they, too, will need some onboarding.
Global or Cross-country Transfers
When employees are transferred to different states or another country, there may be some differences in the corporate culture between locations. Some work rules, aspects of company culture, and business products or services may look different. These employees may need re-onboarding.
The uniqueness of onboarding remote employees, although similar to in-person employees, lies in the areas of teaching them system setups and document sharing. It is important that you keep company documents secure when onboarding remote employees.
Onboarding your new team members is one of HR’s (or a supervisor’s) most critical roles. New team members’ first impressions play into how long they remain with your company and how they feel about leadership. Get the onboarding game right, and you will have an edge on your competition. The good news is that your company does not need to spend a fortune in getting a robust, polished onboarding program established and active.