Onboarding Checklist: How To Onboard Your Employees The Right Way

Man carrying an onboarding checklist in his briefcase

Does your onboarding checklist consist of introducing yourself to the new employee, showing them their desk, and then telling them someone will be around shortly to get them started? If that sounds familiar, you’ve got a lot of room for improvement.

That’s what we’re here to do: help you improve. In this article, the experts at Sling will show you how to onboard your employees the right way so they feel comfortable and confident. We’ll also provide an onboarding checklist to make the process even easier.

10 Steps To Onboard Your Employees The Right Way

shaking hands

1) Prepare The New Employee And Your Existing Team

It’s important to begin the onboarding process well before the first day your new employee arrives. The best way to do this is to stay in communication with your new hire.

The week before they are scheduled to arrive, send them an email that includes essential information, such as:

  • Start date, time, and location
  • Driving directions
  • Parking instructions
  • Tentative first-day schedule
  • Name of contact person
  • Documents to bring
  • Suggestions for appropriate dress

It’s also good practice to keep your current employees informed as well. Soon after sending the new employee a welcome email, send an informational email to your existing team. Be sure to include information such as:

  • New employee’s department
  • New employee’s team
  • New employee’s job title
  • Start date, time, and location
  • New employee’s work experience, education, skills, and interests

By preparing your team members for the arrival of a new employee, you can make the transition easier for all involved.

2) Set Up The New Employee’s Personal Space And Equipment

It’s also critical to give yourself enough time to prepare your new employee’s personal space and equipment before they arrive.

If you manage a restaurant, you may only need a few hours the day before to clean out a locker, assemble the pieces of their uniform, and set up a new POS or time clock account.

But if you manage an office, you may need several days, or even a week, to prepare everything your new employee needs. Where relevant, be sure to include items such as:

  • Computer
  • Phone
  • Other necessary IT equipment
  • New business cards
  • Relevant human resources documents
  • Office key or ID card
  • Access to team calendars, mailing lists, and other online information

When you prepare everything ahead of time, your new employee can hit the ground running and won’t be delayed waiting for critical tools.

3) Greet The New Employee And Make Them Feel Welcome

There’s nothing like greeting your new employee personally to make them feel welcome. Don’t delegate this responsibility to someone else. If you have been their main contact so far, you should be the person to guide them through their first day on the job.

It can also be beneficial to organize some type of welcome event when the new employee arrives. A morning coffee or other “get-to-know-you” event for the new hire and your existing team members is an easy and effective way to get everyone on a first-name basis right from the start.

And if you have the means, include a small welcome package in their locker or at their desk to let them know you’re glad they’re joining the team.

This gift doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Even simple items like office supplies that will help them get started (e.g., notepad, pens, and other essential items) go a long way toward making the new employee feel at home in your business.

This may seem like too much to pack into an already busy day, but remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Even if the new employee only works a half or a quarter of the day after all is said and done, that’s OK. The welcome activities will set them off on the path to being a valued member of the team.

4) Divide Your Onboarding Into Small Components

Restaurant worker setting a table

The first day of a new job is a daunting experience. That’s why it’s important not to overwhelm the new employee with too much information and paperwork all at once.

Instead, divide your onboarding process into small components of 30-60 minutes. If you fill out forms for an hour, follow that with a 30-minute tour of the office space in which they’ll be working.

5) Provide An Employee Handbook

You can do much of the onboarding work beforehand by creating an employee handbook and supplying it to the new employee when they first arrive. This reference will answer many of the employee’s initial questions and provide information on such things as:

When you cover the most frequently asked questions in your employee handbook, you don’t have to spend valuable time verbally communicating that information to the new hire.

6) Make Sure The Job Description Is Up To Date

Your new employee will (obviously) have a general idea about the job you hired them to do. But during their first day, give them a more detailed look at what they’ll be doing by going over their specific job description.

That, of course, means you should update all of the company job descriptions periodically to incorporate new responsibilities and new aspects that weren’t included before.

7) Set Goals

Representation of goal-setting as part of an onboarding checklist

When they’re new, your employees need something to work toward. That’s why setting goals is an essential part of the onboarding process and should be on everyone’s onboarding checklist.

The goals you set for your new team members should be in harmony with the other strategies you’ve set for your company (corporate level strategy, business level strategy, and functional level strategy).

8) Get The Team Involved

Your new employee’s success depends largely on the support of the people around them. So get the team involved right at the start of the onboarding checklist.

Not only will this ensure the smooth integration of the new employee, but it will also improve the work performance of your existing team members. Don’t wait until the end of the onboarding process to introduce your team — do it first thing.

9) Reveal “A Day In The Life” Of Your Customers

One of the best ways to help a new employee understand their job is to show them what a day in the life of a customer looks like. It will give them context for what they learn during the onboarding process and help them connect their work with the value your company creates.

10) Schedule Periodic Performance Reviews

Coworkers discussing their onboarding checklist

Onboarding a new employee isn’t simply giving them a few brief instructions and then turning them loose. For your employee to be successful in their transition into your business, they need guidance on a regular basis.

That’s why it’s vital to schedule periodic performance reviews. In these meetings, be honest with your employee about their performance and ask for honesty in return. Tell them what they’re doing well and what they can improve.

Lastly, if they’ve met the goals you set for them during their first few days on the job, come up with new goals to keep them focused and engaged.

Onboarding Checklist Template

Below, we have prepared a general employee onboarding checklist. You may use it as is or alter it to better fit your onboarding process.

We’ve divided the checklist into four sections:

  • Before the first day
  • First day
  • First week
  • First month

That way, you can spread out all the activity so it doesn’t make the employee feel overwhelmed with information and paperwork.

Prior To Employee’s First Day

  1. Prepare their paperwork.
  2. Appoint a supervisor or mentor.
  3. Discuss new employee’s role, goals, and projects with the mentor.
  4. Prepare employee’s desk or workstation.
  5. Arrange for access to computers, shared drives, servers, software, and any other tools they may need.
  6. Supply required reading materials (if any) in enough time that the employee can read them before their first day.
  7. Arrange their benefits package.
  8. Create (or update) a detailed job description with specific responsibilities.

Employee’s First Day (Day 1)

  1. Welcome them to the team.
  2. Lead them on a tour of the office.
  3. Provide them with introductory training material.
  4. Outline and explain your performance expectations.
  5. Have Human Resources explain basic work processes, such as:
    • Company dress code
    • How to access the building
    • Parking arrangements
    • How to clock in
    • When work starts and ends
  6. Introduce the new employee to their supervisor or mentor.
  7. Take employee (and mentor) out to lunch.

Employee’s First Week (Days 2-7)

  1. Give employee their first project.
  2. Review expectations for the first project (and the month to come).
  3. Have Human Resources meet with the employee and complete necessary forms (e.g., W-2).

Employee’s First Month (Days 8-30)

  1. Schedule a meeting to go discuss any issues or concerns the employee has. Use this time to offer constructive criticism and advice on their performance so far.
  2. Explain long-term corporate strategy and how it applies to the new employee.
  3. Suggest reading material for professional growth.
  4. Organize extracurricular activities to ensure that the new employee socializes with the team.
  5. Toward the end of the month, review your onboarding process to see what does and does not work. Ask the new employee for their opinion.

Your Onboarding Checklist: A Path To Success

Manager going over onboarding checklist with new hire

Don’t view your onboarding checklist as something you need to get through before you can get back to your “real” work. Instead, view it as a path to success — for your employees and, ultimately, your business.

When you put the same importance on your onboarding process as you do on your strategy implementation plan or your project plan, you’ll start to see improvements in the way your employees work. That will translate into the improvement of your business overall.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

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