Onboarding Checklist

A proper onboarding process will make the candidate feel welcome, comfortable, and understood. It will also communicate the accountabilities which the new employee will be judged on and gives them every opportunity to succeed. Daily business operations can be chaotic so religiously refer to your onboarding checklist to ensure you are not skipping valuable steps. Good management is a service you provide to employees, not something you do to them.

Employees are your most important investment. With great employees, your company will achieve far more. Attracting and retaining those great employees takes intentional hard work to be organized, communicate, and problem solve. You cannot expect greatness from employees unless you expect it from yourself.

This is a template. Many of these points are over communicated for clarity. Your business is unique. Please modify this checklist to suit.

Prior to start

  • Have their future team proactively welcome them, update them on the status, and involve them in any current events which will accelerate their usefulness and sense of ownership. This will also help their team to embrace them faster. Do not share confidential information.

  • Consider an automated email campaign to new hires which sets their expectations and reminds them of first day objectives

  • Print their business cards and have them shipped to their house. It is cheap and meaningful.              

  • Assign them a mentor who will meet them on their first day, help them get settled, and be a ‘point person’ in their familiarity with the company. This can be a manager but it may be helpful to delegate to a hospitable team member who does not have authority over the new employee. This will make the new employee more comfortable asking questions they would not bother their manager with.

  • Setup their company digital identity before they arrive and place a form on their desk which provides their login information.

    • Build a checklist for their login creation

  • Email the candidate a simple agenda for their first day so they walk in the door knowing basically what to expect. Intros, paperwork, training, and any production which will be expected of them.

  • Consider any specific departmental onboarding procedures.

Start day

  • Their mentor greets them at the door and welcomes them to the office, provides intros and a tour, and gets them settled at their desk. Onboarding is a whole-company exercise, not just for HR.

  • Provide a nicely published employee handbook which stresses the company mission, values, intended culture, company-wide procedures, and company reporting structure, and FAQ.

  • Follow the agenda.

  • Their manager explains the criteria they will be judged on as a new employee. These criteria will change as they gain competence. To start it may be as simple as showing humility by listening carefully and learning quickly. If you plan to hold them accountable, kindly communicate the standards beforehand. Encourage them to ‘manage up’ as Peter Drucker writes in “On Managing Oneself”. Expecting conformity with company norms without communicating those standards is one of the three most common sources of early turnover. “They just fit in”.

Each week for a month

  • Explain the company’s strategic goals and how their effort supports those efforts.

  • Establish and developing mature KPIs the employee will be supported towards and held accountable for.

  • Each week, and possibly more often, the manager should sit down privately and ask them what they think? What has been surprising? Has anything been different than they expected? The manager is not asking for critical feedback as much as checking to see if the employee is perceiving the company as the company intends to been seen. If there is a disconnect, identifying it fast and its cause gives the manager more time to proactively and thoughtfully respond.

  • Recognize both performance successes and failures. Provide actionable feedback.

Three Months

  • Formal employment review

Six Months

  • Formal employment review

  • Ask for critical feedback on the onboarding process now that the employee understands the company culture.

  • Don’t stop onboarding!