Keep your process in check: The ultimate new hire onboarding checklist

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6 mins, 19 secs read time

What does your onboarding process look like? If it’s just a simple one-hour instructional meeting with bagels, you may want to rethink your strategy and follow a thorough onboarding checklist and process.

Most HR teams confuse orientation with onboarding and as a result the employee is left to figure things out on their own once the required paperwork is complete. Most companies will have an orientation, but those who onboard differentiate themselves.
–Hallie Pierson, former Director of HR Talent Operations & Rewards at Constant Contact

Rather than simply “orienting” in today’s hiring process so new employees can get their bearings, you want to help them fully onboard. This new hire onboarding checklist will help you build a highly structured approach that will help employees properly navigate your company’s waters and be ready to travel the distance.

The power of a great onboarding process

An organized onboarding process can improve employee engagement and satisfaction, which directly relates to employee retention. The Wynhurst Group SHRM presentation shows that 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days.

The Workplace Intelligence Report created by Greenhouse and HRWins’ analyst George LaRocque also shows us that upgrading your onboarding experience can even translate into customer gains. “Studies have long tied onboarding and employee experience to brand and customer experience. A PWC study claims it is ‘proven that employee experience leads to enhanced customer experience, and that starts with onboarding’.”

How Cheetah Digital improved their global new hire experience

Need more convincing? Leading marketing solutions provider Cheetah Digital recently underwent a massive transformation, merging five separate regional businesses into one cohesive organization. The team was faced with an inefficient onboarding process that required too many touchpoints in order to deliver a great new hire experience.

Once they implemented Greenhouse Onboarding, the team was able to create a defined framework and the clear allocation of responsibilities, and automate tasks and email reminders for new hires – all while strengthening the company brand and getting employees up to speed.

In the first 30 days, the team was able to seamlessly onboard 54 new hires, complete 526 tasks and save 12 hours in HR coordination, plus they received 100% positive new hire feedback.

This has been the smoothest, fastest, most efficient onboarding process of my career and, after bragging to friends, I think it’s safe to say this has also been better than any of their onboarding processes!
–Joelle McCalla, Contracts Administrator at Cheetah Digital

Are you ready to take the proper steps to elevate your own onboarding process now?

Your go-to checklist

Before day 1 (pre-boarding)

Ke$ha’s line, “The party don’t start ’til I walk in,” doesn’t apply here. You’ll need to set your new hire up for success long before they enter the building. Start with these essentials:

1 month before start date:

  • Have new hires fill out paperwork like your NDA, inventions agreement and tax forms. (Pro tip: Use an e-sign platform to help.)
  • Make sure everyone involved in the process (People Ops, Hiring Manager, New Hire Buddy, etc.) knows their role.

1 week before start date:

  • Provide new hires with a detailed schedule of their first day (including directions to the office, the names of the people they’ll be meeting, and what they should plan to do for lunch).
  • Share a copy of your employee handbook and guide to benefits.
  • Allow new hires to request their preferred desk/computer/equipment setup.
  • Give new hires access to your company intranet or onboarding software like Greenhouse Onboarding so they can familiarize themselves with their coworkers.
  • Share contact information for HR staff or employees who can address their questions before their start date.

1 day before start date:

  • Inform all employees of the new hire’s upcoming arrival (send out a company email or Slack message), and encourage everyone to welcome them.

First day

Your new hire is no longer in limbo between the offer and start date! Just like the first day of school, this is a time full of both nerves and excitement, so make this day as comfortable as possible.

  • Confirm with HR that the new hire has signed and provided all appropriate documents.
  • Make a company-wide announcement that the new hire is starting, via email or Slack.
  • If possible, have new hires start on the same day and report to the same room for a quick welcome gathering.
  • Have the new hire’s buddy give an office tour and take them to their desk.
  • Introduce the new hire to their manager and any other essential people they’ll be working with.
  • Have the manager share expectations for what the first week will be like so they aren’t twiddling their thumbs, worried about what to do.
  • Add the new hire to the appropriate Slack channels, whether team specific or interest specific (#puppies for the win).

First week

The first week is a crucial time for helping the employee integrate quickly. This is where you have to be radically inclusive to help the new hire be their true authentic self so they can excel.

  • The new hire’s manager should host a weekly 1:1 meeting to clearly outline progress and expectations. This is a great chance to discuss the new hire’s own career goals.
  • Assign work that helps the employee understand the company and the role.
  • Set up essential orientation meetings on their calendar (company values, benefits, IT instruction sessions, etc.).
  • Set up a team lunch for the new hire to get to know their team members.
  • Practice inclusion from the start and get new hires involved. Invite them to upcoming birthdays, happy hours, etc.

First 3 months

As you’re beginning to learn about your new hire, the new hire is also beginning to learn about your company. In a SHRM survey, 21% of employees leaving in the first six months said “more effective training” would have convinced them to stay. This time is key for creating an employee development plan.

  • Managers should discuss and set 30, 60 and 90 day goals with the employee, and track progress at each of the checkpoints.
  • Provide training sessions from teams that will impact the new hire’s specific role.
  • Have managers provide constructive feedback where appropriate so that the new hire is able to have a productive learning environment.
  • At the three month mark, send out an onboarding survey through a helpful platform like Culture Amp to measure the effectiveness of your initiatives.

After 6 months

This is a great time to look back and assess performance as well as look to the future.

  • Depending on the needs of the business, you should set up quarterly or biannual performance reviews with a performance management tool like Zugata.
  • Let the employee know you see their efforts! Recognize employee achievements in a manner consistent with your employer brand.
  • Create a formal employee career development plan, guided by the employee’s personal and professional goals that align with your company.

Pro tip for onboarding distributed employees

When onboarding employees who are distributed, be sure that out of sight does not mean out of mind. Over communicate your goals, allow them to video conference into onboarding meetings, send them welcome gifts and schedule video chats with teammates.

Challenge yourself and get as creative as possible with ways to include your remote employees. When people feel like their opinion matters in the small stuff, they end up feeling invested in the company.
Cecilia Landhol, former People Ops Manager

If you’re ready to build an exceptional new hire experience that begins the moment an offer is accepted, request a demo for Greenhouse Onboarding today.

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Micah Gebreyes

Micah Gebreyes

is a Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Greenhouse where she develops and leads the content strategy for Greenhouse blogs, social media and thought leadership newsletter, Modern Recruiter. When she's not working to bring the brand story to life, she enjoys spending time with her Pomeranian, Cashew. Keep the conversation growing with Micah on LinkedIn or through the Greenhouse LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.