A Comprehensive New Employee Onboarding Checklist for Your Business

Onboarding Checklist

The coronavirus pandemic had severe ramifications on businesses both large and small. Some smaller businesses are still feeling the effects, with over forty percent of small business owners stating that they cannot fill their current positions.

The situation becomes even direr when one considers that, without proper onboarding, those few employees that do accept positions will not stick around for long. Let’s face it: Employees don’t like being thrown into the wilderness from day one, and like being treated as if they’re little more than a number or data on a form even less.

Our onboarding checklist will help you establish some critical points to bring your employees into the fold and keep them there, even during these tumultuous times.

Before the First Day: Pre-Boarding

Many employers believe that onboarding only starts on the first day. Those employers would be wrong. The onboarding process begins as soon as your new hire accepts the job offered to them. From then on, it’s up to you to build the foundation upon which your working relationship will stand.

If your new hire feels that your company is disorganized or doesn’t know what it’s doing, chances are, that will reflect in their performance and their attitude. Likewise, if you keep the process going smoothly from start to finish, they’ll be at least relieved if not impressed by your efforts.

Getting Those Pesky Documents Done

Many temp agencies take the tactic of running all of their legal and tax documents digitally through their own software or some other company program. If you want HR online made easy, companies like WorkBright and others can simplify the legal documentation portion of this process.

However, make sure that you have someone readily available to assist new hires in completing this documentation, whether it’s physical or digital. It will save your company future headaches from the IRS and make sure your employee understands the forms they’re signing.

Set System and Building Access In Advance Where Possible

This is not always a possibility due to customer and information security concerns. However, where possible, you should try to set up building and system access in advance.

Nothing holds up the progress of a first day more than waiting for hours to get buzzed into a building. And nothing grinds your training and onboarding process to a halt quite like your employees not having access to the systems they need to learn their jobs.

Ensure the Hire Receives All Relevant Information

Another key element to this preparation for employee onboarding is ensuring that they receive all the information they need. Where and when they’ll be expected on their first day, and who they need to report to are some of the major questions your new hires need to have answered.

While it’s not required, it would also help you to answer whether or not they should bring lunch and offer a point of contact if they have further questions. This can establish goodwill and show that you’re looking out for your employees’ best interests.

Have Desks, Cubicles, or Spaces Assigned, Cleaned, and Ready

This has become all but a necessity due to the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but try to have any spaces the employees will use cleaned, assigned, and ready before they come in. It makes you look more prepared and makes the employee feel more valuable, not like they’re slotting in where someone else once worked.

Onboarding Checklist for Day One

Now that all the preparation work is done, let’s talk about how to handle onboarding new employees on day one. The first day can go a long way towards establishing whether or not a job fits a new hire. And, as they say, you can never get a second chance at a first impression.

So, if you want to make your first day for new employees a valuable one, make sure that you:

Make Your Employees Feel Welcome and Valued

As much as you’re evaluating your new employees, you can bet that they’re evaluating your company as well. They’re searching for any major red flags to decide whether or not it’s worth staying. If you and your team seem stressed out, disinterested, or actively hostile towards the new hires, it can be off-putting.

Likewise, don’t lean too far in the opposite direction and put on almost cult-like happiness in the effort of crafting a positive first impression. Some gifts are nice, but showering new hires in gifts and swag is also ill-advised. That type of love-bombing might wow and impress new hires at first, but doesn’t pass the long-term sniff test.

Tour the Office and Answer Questions About Relevant Locations

Think back to when you worked for someone else. Nothing was more frustrating than not knowing where to go to get things done, or having to ask some hapless colleague for the location of the bathroom or breakroom. So, on day one, make sure you provide your new hires with a full tour of the facility and highlight important locations for their duties.

Introduce Hires to Their Colleagues and Supervisors

It’s best to establish a good relationship between your current staff and new hires from the ground up. Some companies have a strange sense of hostility towards new people, which is only detrimental to the long-term goal of any company: Growth. 

Plus, by introducing new hires to their colleagues and immediate supervisors, they have a team surrounding them that can answer questions they may have throughout their first ninety days. Employees then know where to go for answers, and don’t have to flounder around in the dark.

Present All Relevant Rules and Expectations to Employees

Day one should also be the part of your onboarding process where you present the rules they need to know. This can include company-specific rules, laws relevant to their specific positions, or general safety regulations. Make sure to dig deep and answer questions regarding any ambiguous wording.

Employee Onboarding During Those First Three Months

So, the person you hired made it through the first day and didn’t quit at lunch. However, your onboarding doesn’t end once day one draws to a close. During the employee’s first ninety days, it’s your job to:

Establish Training Expectations

Some jobs train faster than others. We understand that.

However, your employee might not understand why you expect them to perform at the level of a veteran team member after their first week. Make sure that you’re establishing expectations for their training progress from the beginning. This gives them an idea of how much mental real estate they may need to devote to learning their job while on shift.

Make Check-Ins a Regular Thing

Checking in with your employees to see how they’re feeling, how well they’re comprehending their duties, and if they have any questions is an excellent practice. However, it’s easy to go overboard and make the people you’re onboarding feel like you’re either micromanaging them or babying them.

Consistency is the key to making regular check-ins work. Keep them brief and scheduled, for the most part. Don’t hesitate to poke your head in if you notice that an employee is struggling. However, if you do, make sure you do so for all of your employees, old and new.

The last thing you want is for these check-ins to breed resentment.

Make Sure to Review Pain Points Without Judgment

Many employees have an almost Pavlovian response to getting summoned for a meeting with the boss, cultivated by years of associating a call from authority figures with trouble, gossip, and negative consequences. If and when you must review places where an employee lacks or struggles, attempt to do so without judgment.

If attendance or tardiness has been a consistent issue with an employee, try to reach out to them to understand why it’s happening. Remain firm in your rules and expectations, but do not speak without empathy.

When you go in like you’re scolding them or about to discipline them during a warning meeting, it can have the opposite effect of the one intended.

Continue Nurturing Social Bonds

Another key part of any onboarding checklist during the first ninety days is to continue nurturing the social bonds you introduced on day one. However, we must caution that there are positive and negative ways to make this happen.

Some bosses become overly involved in the lives of their subordinates and use that to manipulate bonds around the office. That sort of office politicking drives good workers away from well-paying jobs. Don’t engage in it.

You should also, to the best of your ability, try to build those social bonds with your team organically. Not everyone is all-in for the cheerleader-like team-building activities.

Those who aren’t, shouldn’t be shamed for their lack of participation. Find ways to connect with them outside the standard, extrovert-oriented team builders.

What to Handle at the End of Year One

Once an employee passes the first ninety days, the training wheels are off. For the most part, you’ve completed the onboarding required for this employee to stick around. Most employees that have issues with the training, policies, culture, or other elements of onboarding will have left before the end of the first year.

However, as they are still new to your organization, there are a few more steps you can add to your onboarding checklist to ensure that they stick around past their first year.

Review the Hire’s Performance and Check Their Progress

The one-year mark is the perfect time to sit down with your new employee and review their progress over the first year. It’s a great moment to celebrate their triumphs while also addressing any lingering pain points.

If the employee has gone above and beyond the call of duty, make sure you highlight that. If their performance on a particular project stood out to you, let them know.

However, if this conversation is a not-so-pleasant one, try to approach these pain points with sensitivity. You never know what might be causing your employee’s drop in performance.

Request Employee Feedback

At the end of year one, you should also take some time to ask your employees for feedback on this first year. How well did they feel the onboarding process went? Are there any policies or duties they feel need adjustment? Whatever they have to say, try to listen without judgment or defensiveness.

It’s easy to get a wounded ego when an employee criticizes something in the way your business is run. Take a moment to consider the power dynamic in the room, and that they likely hesitated to bring it up for fear of causing trouble or getting fired. Even if you, yourself, have never established that kind of corporate culture, your employee very well could have come from somewhere that did.

Pulse Check to See Where Employees Wish to Go

Too few employers pulse-check with their employees at their performance reviews to see where their people want to go with their careers. Don’t hesitate to ask the employees what they intend for the future, but don’t judge them if they seem either unsure or outright don’t know if they’ll remain with the company.

Not all relationships are meant to last forever. This includes working ones. If, at this pulse check, you hear that an employee is looking for an exit strategy, see what you can do to remedy the issue and otherwise support them as they find their career “fit”.

Looking for More Resources Like This Onboarding Checklist?

Onboarding does not begin and end with the first day, as many employers think. Your employee onboarding checklist should start well before your new hires set foot in your office, and span to the end of their first year. By planning for the long-term, you ensure not only that you get quality hires, but that you can retain them for the long term.

And, if you need more helpful resources like this onboarding checklist, feel free to check out the business section of our blog. We update each day with more educational and informative content like this!