Your Complete New Hire Onboarding Checklist

Finding the best candidates for your company is only half the battle. Once a new employee joins your team, it’s all hands on deck to create an employee onboarding checklist that properly equips your new hires as they start their careers in your organization.

According to research from Glassdoor, organizations with a solid and effective onboarding process improve productivity by over 70% and new hire retention by 82%. If you want to engage and retain your employees from Day 1, an effective onboarding checklist will help you accomplish that. It also helps new hires ramp up faster so they can be efficient as soon as possible.

In one of our comprehensive resource pages, “What is Employee Onboarding?” we talked thoroughly about what an onboarding program entails, its benefits, and tips to improve your process. In this article, we outline all the tasks you need in your onboarding checklist so your new hires get off to a great first start.

What is an Employee Onboarding Checklist?

Before we actually go over a strong onboarding checklist template, let’s first discuss its definition.

An onboarding checklist is so much more than just filling out paperwork. It’s the process of helping new employees adjust to their new roles smoothly and quickly by managing the early stages of their employment. Remember, the first days and weeks of a new hire need to be special, welcoming, and fulfilling.

Usually, hiring new employees comes with a pile of paperwork. But that doesn’t mean your new starter’s first day at work should be all about filling in documents and forms. Far from it actually. During their first day, they should be able to:

  • Align with the company’s workplace culture
  • Understand the organization’s mission, vision, and core values
  • Get to know the new faces and personalities they’ll work with on a daily basis, especially their teammates, managers, and clients.

If your onboarding process checklist embodies the bullet points listed above, you’re on the right track to ensuring you have the best possible onboarding experience for your new hires.

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An Effective Employee Onboarding Checklist Template

As there are many steps to prepare a new hire successfully, using an employee onboarding checklist will help ensure you don’t miss any crucial items during the hectic and exciting first few days, weeks, and months.

Here’s a comprehensive onboarding process checklist template that includes key interpersonal onboarding elements. Get a jump start on these essential tasks to make a solid first impression on your new employees.

Before their first day:

  • Extend the offer verbally before sending an email. Don’t hesitate to call the candidate to deliver the good news. An offer letter is exciting for both the applicant and your company, and a verbal offer creates a more personal connection. If the candidate expresses enthusiasm in your verbal offer, inform them that an official letter will be sent to their email with more details.
  • Send a personalized video message. There are many software programs available that let you record a short welcome video to new hires after they accept your job offer. With the pandemic changing the way hiring teams recruit and onboard new hires, a short video message is a great opportunity to highlight your company culture even when everyone is social distancing.
  • Share a link to an online directory. An online directory is basically an organizational chart that maps out the roles and relationships throughout your company. It’s a user-friendly database of contacts that keep staff in the know about milestones and key dates. This will help new employees get a clear idea of the team they’ll be working with and familiarize themselves with faces that will likely welcome them during their first days and weeks at work. Given that many companies are operating in a work from home setup, having this in your onboarding process checklist will prove to be extremely useful.
  • Collect personal information. Get their address, emergency contacts, dietary preferences, allergies, and even special needs.
  • Let new hires review the employee handbook. Invite your new starters to ask any questions and sign on the document to confirm that they’ve read and understood the contents.
  • Send policy-related documents. For instance, send the policies on time off and parental leave as well as the confidentiality agreement. Make sure they sign the documents.
  • Collect necessary forms and certificates. This includes withholding and payroll information, I-9 form, and any necessary certificates (for example: teaching certificates if you run an educational institution).
  • Set up your new employee’s workstation. You can even decorate their cubicle with balloons and a welcome card signed by all the members of their team. Also, make sure the computer has all the software and tools the employee needs.
  • Send a welcome email to the company introducing the new employee. This way, everyone will know the new hire and greet them warmly when they come in.
  • Plan the orientation day. To ensure the day is a success, set up one-on-one introductions, group meetings, and training sessions in advance. Just like how you use an interview scheduling tool when recruiting applicants, it’s best to clear everyone’s schedules beforehand so there will be no delays.

On the first day

  • Remind employees to bring the necessary eligibility documents to work. This should be the first thing on your onboarding process checklist when it comes to your new hire’s starting day. Send them a reminder in the morning before they come to work about the requirements such as at least two valid IDs, Employment Authorization document, and Permanent Resident Card. You will compare these documents to the information on their I-9 form to ensure they’ve filled it out accurately.
  • Introduce the training schedule. Show new hires the support they’re going to receive during their first few days, weeks, and months at work to make them feel confident and enthusiastic.
  • Have a small gift waiting for them. This can be anything from a cup of coffee from the nearby cafe or branded company merch such as mugs, lanyards, t-shirts, and stationery.
  • Assign a buddy or a mentor. This is to ensure they have a go-to person when they’re still learning the ropes of the workplace. You can also provide their mentor or buddy with a copy of your onboarding process checklist to ensure everyone is aligned. Their buddy should also give them an office tour. Have their buddy or mentor take the new hire out for lunch with the entire team too. Additionally, this is a good opportunity to teach the buddy or mentor some crucial people management skills, especially those gearing to be promoted as managers or team leads.

After their first week

  • Set up check-ins. Plan a brief check-in at the end of their first week. Check to see if they’ve signed all the paperwork and met all the people in their teams and departments. Schedule a longer, more formal check-in after their first month. This gives you ample time to assess training needs and see how they’re getting along with the rest of the team.
  • Send out a quick feedback form regarding their onboarding experience. Any employee onboarding checklist should have this step as it will help you pinpoint areas for improvement. It also shows the new hire that you value their opinion and well-being.

Once you follow the onboarding checklist template above, you can set the foundation for your new employee’s long-term success in your organization. With the right amount of support and guidance from your team, you can make a huge difference in their early productivity and performance, social integration, and long-term retention.

How is an Onboarding Checklist Helpful?

Yes, building an employee onboarding checklist from scratch can be intimidating. However, overcoming what appears to be an overwhelming or monotonous challenge results in many benefits. Your team and new employees will thank you for the time and effort you put in completing your onboarding process checklist with due diligence.

Here are the top three benefits of an effective employee onboarding checklist.

Your time saved

This may be hard to see at the beginning but after you complete your onboarding checklist, you will no longer have to panic when you have new hires coming on board in the future. Everything will be seamlessly sorted out once you already have your onboarding checklist template. It’s an investment of time at the start but after you get the ball rolling, you’ll keep employees engaged and motivated all throughout their onboarding experience.


Once you’ve created your employee onboarding checklist, it ensures that each new hire is brought onboard with the same activities. This means they have a collective experience with the rest of your employees, helping them feel like they belong. If you are unsure about a few things in your onboarding checklist, you can consult with other managers and employees. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, especially when it comes to the training materials and activities. You can also check out our article on creating an effective employee onboarding program for more expert tips.

A great starting experience

The new employee transition should be a smooth one since new hires are impressionable and malleable during this time. Opinions about your company culture have been made from the first in-person interview and you can continue to make a positive lasting impression with a great onboarding program.

Once you start using your new employee onboarding checklist, you will understand how much better the onboarding experience will be for your new starters. You no longer have to look at your team and say, “What did we say we were going to do?” and you definitely don’t have to look at your new employees and go, “So what do you want to do now?”

With an onboarding process checklist, you’ll make the overall onboarding experience a pleasant one rather than a hassle. You also quickly make your new hire feel like a core part of the team, helping them become productive members of your organization.

Create Your Employee Onboarding Checklist Today

Remember, onboarding doesn’t stop once your new hire sits at their desk, signs the necessary documents, and watches a few tutorial videos. If all the steps listed in the employee onboarding checklist above sound like work, that’s because it is! Getting onboarding right demands enthusiasm, preparation, and motivation to help make it all happen.

But the payoff is huge. When new hires are onboarded effectively, they work harder and are less likely to leave the organization. It will create a virtuous cycle of engagement that propels your organization to stand out as a choice employer.