How (and Why) You Should Structure Your New Employee Onboarding Checklist

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WISQ blog Creative Onboarding

A study by Jobvite found that 30% of employees quit their jobs within the first 90 days of employment.

Why, then, is talent quitting if the team is picking the right candidates? It comes back to the employee onboarding experience.

Employee Onboarding & New Hire Checklist

Ready, set, hire: you’re about to hit the ground running with a new hire. What’s your game plan?

Every great coach stores their plays in a handbook, and you should do the same when bringing new hires up to speed for a new position. Organizations that are successful at onboarding have a plan for the tactical, educational and social aspects of onboarding.

  • Tactical includes information around things like pay, benefits and the tech stack your company and team uses.

  • Educational aspects include learning about your company’s products, services and processes.

  • Social elements include meeting people important to the position’s success, meeting teammates and other employees.

Your first step to employee onboarding should be creating a central repository of information for new hires, which can include information on benefits, pay, and workplace rules. You should also provide points of contact prior to their first day with any questions.

Remember that both the information you provide to the new employee and the employee onboarding checklist may vary depending on if the hire is on-site, remote, or hybrid. Adjust these tips to fit your work structure and adapt them as needed!

Start a Pre-Boarding Checklist Ahead of a Hire’s Start Date

With a strategy in hand, you’re ready to train the hire directly. The planning for this onboarding shouldn’t wait until the morning of their start date, though. Here are some key tasks to include on your employee pre-boarding checklist.

Prepare New Hire Paperwork & Employee Forms

Forms and paperwork are a must. Make sure to have legal forms, job-specific documents, company-specific documents, and anything needed for payroll ready for signing. Legal documents will likely include a W-4 Form, I-9 Form, copy of offer letter, employment contract, and emergency contact form.

Gather Employee Job Materials

Gather necessary materials including all devices and equipment, especially computers that may require some set-up time. Collecting these items should be completed well before a new hire’s first day and shipped out for remote workers, if needed. If in-person, hook up any new equipment the moment it arrives. Lastly, contact IT about getting the new employee a company email, access to buildings or on-site facilities, and software needs.

Begin Planning Employee’s Initial Objectives

Reserve an employee's physical office, cubical, or workstation if they’re in-person. For hybrid employees, document the system in place for rotating workstations if needed. Order anything that the office is missing for your new hire’s welcome kit. This is also the time to schedule a new hire orientation and let them know what to expect on their first day.

Say Hello!

Don’t forget to email new employees prior to their first day with key information. Let them know when on their first day any orientation will occur, and what to do upon arriving at the office for the first time (or what time they’ll be expected on Slack or Zoom) For employees at an on-site location, don’t forget parking information, dress code, local spots for coffee and lunch, and a note about how you’re excited to have them start!

Employee Onboarding Checklist for an Employee’s First Day

The first thing on your employee onboarding checklist should be greeting them in-person. If the employee is remote or hybrid, you’ll still want to kickoff their day with an early email or instant message to welcome them in.

A new hire’s first day is a great opportunity to let a new employee come in 30 minutes after their normal start time or for you to come in early, so you’re guaranteed to be there before them. (Showing up at an office building with no idea where to go and nothing to do is always an alienating experience.)

First Day Checklist for Remote or Hybrid Employees

Day one for hybrid and remote employees involves a little more heavy lifting upfront, because there’s no delivering access to key info in-person. You’ll want to document all of the platforms, tools, and applications necessary for their job. Include their login information, as well as security info on secure passwords or two-factor authentication if needed. Our onboarding tips and tricks will help boost your employee onboarding checklist.

To go the extra mile, consider sending a welcome kit with first-day items or company swag to your new hire’s home address. It provides all the excitement of going into a new office — from their doorstep!

“[With onboarding] there’s a delicate balance to strike between what you push via technology and where you have a personal touch. You have to be thoroughly thoughtful about that… That personal touch cannot be underestimated.” - Danielle Monaghan, VP, Global Talent Acquisition - Google Cloud

First Day Checklist for On-Site Employees

Hybrid and on-site employees’ needs vary from their remote counterparts. For one, you’ll need a physical location for these employees to work. Double-check their workspace, including desk and chair, are clean. You may want to give them swag, like a workplace welcome kit or desk decor item.

On their desk, you can lay out essential items for their first day: access key, badges, or cards; Day One checklist; building and parking map. You may also want to include notes on how to access key locations such as HR, their point of contact’s office, labeled meeting rooms, bathrooms, break rooms, common rooms.

By the End of Day One, New Employees Should Have These Tasks Completed

Be introduced to their immediate team if not the whole team: No employee should start alone! Leading their initial welcoming to the company by encouraging connections helps set a new hire up to make friends and find mentors in the workplace.

Signed remaining paperwork, submitted forms, and possess training plans: Providing documents is not only a way to inform your new hire, but also a way to show company transparency. By including a training plan in their initial employee onboarding checklist, new hires will understand every part of their hire has been throughout…which feels thoughtful.

Understand workplace rules: New hires need to know what time to arrive, when to clock out, proper attire, and the basics of company culture. While most of this can be covered even before a new hire’s first day, recapping all the basics in their employee onboarding checklist reinforces the most important details.

Review organizational charts: New hires should become aware of who is in charge and a part of which team. It’s vital to begin understanding cross-disciplinary team structures as quickly as possible to ensure workplace efficiency. It’s also a good time to set up mentor meetings or coffee chats between new hires and more seasoned employees.

Understand how their role will interact with different departments: Beyond knowing who is in which department, it’s also important to align new hires with company workflow. Departmental handoffs and interactions look different in every workplace, so give new hires insight into when they’ll work solo, with their team, and cross-team.

Have a point of contact…or many: As a hiring manager, you can’t be the only point of contact on the employee onboarding checklist. Give new hires peers to chat with, contact information for immediate and extended higher ups, mentors, and even employees you think they’ll just click with. After all, building connection begins with onboarding.

Employee Onboarding Checklist for an Employee’s First Week

Once their first day is over, your job as a HR manager is to get your employee into the rhythm of the company throughout the rest of their first week’s onboarding. You’ll be making them comfortable in their new workspace, whether they’re completing their employee onboarding checklist in-office or from home.

You can make an effort to onboard employees to the social culture of the company as well. Introduce the new member during standup if you’re in-person. For remote teams, do the same via video chat. You could also send an announcement email, which may be departmentally-specific depending on the size of the team.

Keep Clarity at the Forefront of Your First Week Employee Onboarding Checklist

Your EOW task: make sure the new hire is completely sure of their definitive role. This includes how they’ll be incorporated into existing projects, or what tasks they’ll be kicked off on for their second week. Make sure it’s also clear to their department and related ones.

To further answer any questions, review the information you’re planning to provide the new employee, which can also include safety policies, technology policies, and where to go for help with technical issues. Initiate the task of completing company-wide trainings in the first week. This covers all legal courses, like inclusivity trainings. You should have also covered benefits, insurance plans, and payroll setups.

Support Your Employee Onboarding with Healthy Company Culture

As you onboard, make sure the new hire knows they can ask questions. A culture where new hires aren’t afraid to ask for help is likely to lessen stress and burnout down the line.

Use new hire feedback to determine areas of improvement. Remember that no employee onboarding checklist is perfect or complete — and each new hire offers a different, unique perspective to improving the process.

Set up a plan for additional check-ins over the next few months. Let employees know that these aren’t for progress reports so much as they are for HR reasons and understanding the role. This will encourage more honesty.

Employee Onboarding Checklist for Employees’ Day 30, 60, and 90

Many HR managers find it helpful to schedule a check in for a new hire’s 30, 60, and 90-day milestones. It’s a chance for your newest hires to share their thoughts, so you can continuously update your employee onboarding checklist.

See how employees are adapting to the role and what additional training or tasks would have benefitted them. If relevant, see if the job description needs adjusting for future employees.

Employee Onboarding Checklist for an Employee’s First Year

HR managers may want to review an employee’s goals and growth as they enter their second year. Assess their strengths and discuss future opportunities, as well as any possible promotions. It’s possible that a promotion may even be on the table.

Put Your All Into Employee Onboarding; Use Wisq

Trying to get to know everyone in the company can feel almost impossible, particularly for remote and hybrid employees.

Make new employees more comfortable using Wisq, a workplace-friendly social platform where coworkers form genuine connections with their colleagues.

When prematurely losing a new hire can easily cost even the most efficient companies tens of thousands of dollars, it’s vital to use preventative measures for lowering employee turnover. Wisq gives new hires the resources and social connections they need to thrive in the workplace, from one central location.

And because it’s separate from project management systems or productivity apps, employees are more willing to express their thoughts, concerns, and adjustments to the company.

Make a Wisq post part of your new hire onboarding checklist and watch as employees report feeling more connected with each additional check in.

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