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Episode 11:
Employee Onboarding | 5 min read

The ultimate employee onboarding checklist

Does your business have an employee onboarding checklist that is used consistently and thoroughly? Despite the value of an onboarding new hire checklist, it is too often overlooked in the busy process of hiring new employees. If your business has a steady stream of new hires, it’s likely even harder to make sure the checklist is used correctly every time.

However, it's not a good idea to let the onboarding procedure fall into a meaningless pile of paperwork. The checklist doesn't have to be long, boring, or frustrating to work well. It does, however, have to be informative and include some essential details.

Here's what you need to know about how you can create and implement a checklist that will smooth out your onboarding process.

Why is an Employee Onboarding Checklist Important?

A good employment onboarding checklist is an essential element of the hiring process for a couple of important reasons. Once managers realize how much money and frustration a good checklist can solve, they make implementing an employee onboarding checklist a priority.

Clarify Responsibilities

An employee onboarding checklist lets new employees know what their role will be, how that role interacts with other employees, and where responsibilities lie. Without employment onboarding checklist procedures, it is much more likely that there will be disagreements between employees about responsibilities or lapses where a new employee didn't realize they were responsible for something important.

Create Uniformity Across Training

Having an onboarding new hire checklist maintains consistency across your new hires and your company, setting everyone up for a streamlined experience. Without this kind of consistency, employees will have different impressions of your business, which can lead to misunderstandings and difficulty feeling a shared company culture.

Furthermore, a consistent onboarding process enables you to more accurately gauge how well employees are adapting and learning compared to an average, eliminating the onboarding process as a variable in employee performance.

Avoid Lost Time

If your company is like most, you dedicate a certain amount of time to training. If a new hire takes longer to train, it will cost not only the employee’s lost time, but also the lost time of whoever has to stop what they're doing to help them. A good onboarding process ensures as many questions as possible are answered and prevents gaps in understanding from creating confusion down the road.

Characteristics of a Good Employment Onboarding Checklist

  • Straightforward and to the point
  • No longer than necessary, without unnecessary information
  • Asks for feedback to verify that each step is being accomplished
  • Organized into different stages of hiring and onboarding
  • Flexible, able to be changed and adapted as onboarding needs change
  • Consistent, able to be referenced down the road 

What Does an Employee Onboarding Checklist Include?

A good onboarding new hire checklist isn’t something to fill out quickly on the new hire’s first day. It should be continuously incorporated from the beginning of the job search until the end of the onboarding process. Every checklist will include different elements depending on exactly what your business is and what the new hire’s job will be. However, here's an idea of what a good checklist might cover:

Whatever Forms New Hires Might Need

The hiring process inevitably includes a fair amount of paperwork you’ll need to prepare ahead of time. The employment onboarding checklist should cover a list of paperwork to prepare and arrange a folder for the new hire to have on their first day. Some documents might include:

  • Contracts that need to be signed
  • Tax documentation
  • Information about payroll and how paychecks should be handled
  • Benefits package
  • Information about emergency contacts, mailing address, etc.
  • A copy of the job description


Welcome The New Employee Before They Arrive

The first day is not the first time to begin significant communications with your new employee or with your business about the new employee. Make an announcement to your employees that there will be a new hire and in what area they'll be working. Send a thorough email to your new employee welcoming them and getting them acquainted with all of your procedures.

This is a good time to assign a mentor to help the new hire navigate the onboarding process. A peer mentor can be a more neutral point of contact the new hire feels more comfortable talking to than a manager. Be sure to introduce the new hire to their peer mentor in the welcome email.

Along with the welcome email, consider including any paperwork that doesn't need to be filled out at the workplace to get it out of the way early.

Make Sure the New Hire’s Workspace is Ready

When your new hire gets to work, you don't want to find out that their new computer needs to update for several hours or their office desk is malfunctioning. Make sure that you have a current employee try out the equipment and get everything ready so that the new hire can dive right into work.

This preparation doesn't include just the physical aspects of the workspace. The employee needs to have access to keycodes for restricted areas of the building, passwords for digital folders and data, and whatever else is required for them to get to work. Setting up these kinds of passwords and user accounts can take some time, so make sure your onboarding list prompts IT to be contacted as soon as someone new is hired.

Provide Guidelines for Shadowing

A big part of most employees’ first couple of days is the tour and shadowing. This is an important step, during which a new hire learns about the physical location they're in, where they can access essential things like the water cooler, bathroom, break room, where to put food and drinks, etc.

Unfortunately, shadowing often becomes an opportunity for employees to get to know each other. There's nothing wrong with that, but if information is being overlooked and the new hire doesn't know things they should have learned, this part of the onboarding process isn't being handled properly.

The employee onboarding checklist should include information about exactly what needs to be covered during the tour and shadowing process, with informative steps that can be checked off one by one to be sure that the employees aren’t being distracted.

Remind and Guide Check-ins

An employment onboarding checklist doesn't stop when the first day is over. An effective checklist includes information about what will happen down the road. It's a good Idea to have a check-in at a week, a month, 60 days, and 90 days out.

Make sure to ask the same questions at every check-in, for every employee, and ensure that the questions are as consistent as possible over time. Naturally, some questions will be different as time goes on, but it's a good idea to have many that are the same so you can get a sense of how your employee is handling the work over time. Here's an example of some good questions to ask at check-ins on day one and as the months go by:

  • How is work life balance going for you? What could be done by the company to improve the balance, if anything?
  • Are you confident of what your responsibilities are and feel able to meet them? If not, what do you feel is getting in the way?
  • Do you feel that you work well with your teammates? What could be done to improve your relationships at work?

An Employment Onboarding Checklist Makes Hiring Easier

Regardless of the level of turnover in your business, hiring new employees is always somewhat stressful: for the new hire, for management, and for existing employees. An employee onboarding checklist is a great way to make sure that everybody is prepared for the new hire’s arrival and that every second of onboarding is used as effectively as possible. You want your new employees to be on the ground doing their job without delay. An onboarding new hire checklist is the best way to make that possible.

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Employee Onboarding


Workstream is a hiring platform that helps employers get 4x the number of qualified applicants. The world's most trusted brands use Workstream to optimize job board postings, automate screening and interview scheduling, communicate via text message, and streamline the onboarding/training process. See what all the buzz is about by scheduling a demo or email us info@workstream.is!

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