Managing People

Create a master checklist for onboarding new employees

Onboarding is an essential part of bringing new hires on in your organization. It’s not simply about orientation, either: onboarding should be a comprehensive process that gives new employees everything they need to succeed in their new job.

A 2007 study from The Wynhurst Group found that employees who take part in a structured onboarding program are 58% more likely to still be with their company after three years. If you put a lot of value and effort into the onboarding process, the more likely your new employees will be willing to put effort into your company for the long haul. So, how do you create your onboarding checklist that fits within your company culture and ensures success for you and your new hire? Ask yourself these questions:

1. What needs to happen before their first day?

2. What do you need to know about your new hire?

3. What do you want to share about company history and culture?

4. What tools do they need to succeed?

5. What’s the timeline?

What needs to happen before their first day?

The onboarding process should start even before a new employee walks in the door. The first items on your checklist should be do deliver any necessary information they need to be prepared for their first day, as well as what you need to do to ensure they feel welcomed. The last thing you want is for your new employee’s first day to be full of confusion and awkward speed-bumps.

When preparing for your new hire’s first day, make sure you’ve answered these questions:

  • How do they get to the office?
  • What’s the first thing they must do when they arrive?
  • What should they bring that first day?
  • Does the company and team know they’re starting?
  • Do they have a way to welcome the new hire?
  • Does the new hire know the dress code?
  • What must you do to prepare for their arrival— such as setting up their desk, computer, and work applications such as email?
  • Do they know already where things like the restroom, copy machine, and cafeteria are located? If not, will you give a first-day tour, hand them a helpful map of the office, etc.?

What do you need to know about your new hire?

Just as your new hire needs to learn about the office and company right away, you should learn about them. For example, a new employee survey can help your new hire understand the company culture, and how they can contribute to it through their own, unique voice.When getting to know your new hire, make sure you’ve answered these questions:

  • How do they prefer to be addressed? (Do they go by a nickname — or not prefer one at all? Do they prefer their middle name, or last name? What are their pronouns?)
  • Do they know why you hired them in particular?
  • How will your team get to know them? An icebreaker exercise, or an employee survey maybe?
  • Have you set up a time or event for the team to meet the new hire?
  • How will the company get to know them?

What do you want to share about company history and culture?

Determine what your new employees must know in order to fit in and thrive in the business, and make sure you share that information with them. For sharing company history and culture, make sure you’ve answered these questions:

  • What does the new hire need to know about the company’s creation and history?
  • What’s the best way to teach them?
  • Have I set aside time for both them and myself to go through that information with them?
  • What should they expect, in terms of company culture?
  • What do you encourage them to add to the culture?
  • Who, when, and how will the new hire learn about company values?

What tools do they need to succeed?

Consider what tools that you need to provide so that new hires can truly succeed at their new position. Don’t assume your new hire knows your company’s vocabulary, especially if they’re coming from another industry or career.For creating the list of tools, make sure you’ve answered these questions:

  • Do they have a go-to support person for questions? (And who do they go to if that person is out sick, etc.?)
  • Is there a vocabulary list they should familiarize themselves with?
  • Have you explained to them your company’s most important clients, investors, competitors, etc.?
  • What resources can you create for your new hire?
  • What new skills will they have to learn and how will you guide them through it?

What’s your timeline?

Some companies’ onboarding processes take a week — some take longer. Sometimes that means the manager puts aside extensive onboarding time for a a week or two, but sometimes that means one-on-ones every few months. Your process can last up to a year. For creating the timeline, make sure you’ve answered these questions:

  • How often will you meet with the new hire that first week? Will they see you regularly for onboarding, or just on the first day?
  • Will you meet them regularly after that? One-on-ones can be key to good management; even more so for onboarding.
  • How often will your employee receive check-ins? Once a week? Once a month?
  • Have you figured out that schedule with them?
  • How can you help your new employee set goals, and how will you and they track progress?

Answering all of these questions will provide a roadmap for your onboarding checklist. It will be a fluid document that will shift and change as you learn what works and what doesn’t. Creating an onboarding checklist and implementing the program requires time and effort, but it’s sure to benefit your new employees, and your business overall.