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Employee Onboarding Checklist: The Ultimate 7-Step Guide – 2021

BY -

Ishvana Hans

October 5, 2021

Want to grow your HR tech knowledge 🤓?

Finding the right candidate for your company can be a difficult task. So it only makes sense that you do your best to retain such an employee. According to research, up to 20% of new hires leave their jobs within the first 45 days of their employment. The reasons? Feelings of alienation, lack of clarity about the new role, no indication of career advancement, among other things.

A well-thought-out onboarding program can help solve the above problems and ultimately reduce employee turnover. While every company's onboarding process would be unique, consider this your ultimate new employee onboarding checklist that covers all the essential bases. Feel free to tweak this checklist template and don’t forget to share it with your HR team!

1. Paperwork

  • Forms: After an offer letter has been accepted, it becomes imperative for Human Resources managers to ensure that the new hire complies with all the applicable legal norms. This would differ from place to place, but for the majority of the United States, Form I-9 for confirming the eligibility to work in the U.S. and Form W-4 for determining federal income tax withholding are two important government-mandated documents. Most companies also have a job application form to collect an employee’s data pertaining to work history, education, health information, etc. 
  • Drug test record: Some companies require their employees to undergo a drug test every once in a while. If your company has a drug testing policy, inform your incoming employee and get their record before they join. 
  • Employee handbook: An employee handbook is a vital document that lists the company policies, procedures, code of conduct, and other important elements of a business. After you hand this manual to your new employee, make them sign an acknowledgement form.
  • Bank account details: Although salary is usually credited at the end of the month in most companies, setting up a new salary account might require multiple visits to a bank. This is why it’s best to get this part of the work done at the earliest for a seamless onboarding experience. 

2. Pre-boarding

  • Welcome kit: You only have one chance to make a first impression. Welcome kits can help you make a good one. While big tech companies such as Google and Dropbox are known for their extravagant welcome packages, you don’t necessarily have to shower your new hire with fancy gifts. Thoughtful gestures such as sending your incoming employee a book with a personalized note are equally appreciated by employees. If your company is remote, this employee onboarding process might do wonders for your employee engagement.
  • Email to the new employee: Your incoming employee might be wading through a sea of ambiguity before starting their new job. As a Human Resources professional, it’s your duty to counter their confusion with information. Send them a welcome email delineating everything they need to know before arriving, such as start date, start time, directions, first day schedule, things to bring, and details of the contact person.
  • Email to the team members: It’s good to give your existing employees a heads up about the new hire. Send an email to your employees describing the background of the new hire, the team he or she would join, and their joining date. 

3. Office Prep 

  • Equipment: What constitutes equipment would vary from job to job, but you don’t want your new employee to scout around for work essentials on their very first day. Make sure the new hire’s workstation is set up properly and has all the required items, such as a desktop, office phone, office ID, keys, and business cards. If your company is remote, send the work computer to your employee’s address well in advance.
  • Software and accounts setup: Create the new employee’s email account; add them to mailing lists, calendars, and social platforms; and install all the relevant software on their computer. Consider sharing the onboarding plan with them by making their account on any of the top onboarding software platforms. This would help them prepare better for what’s to come.

4. Intros and tours

  • Meet with the team: This ideally happens on the employee's first day of work. However, some companies have adopted the practice of informally meeting the new employee prior to his or her joining. Whatever your process may be, spend a substantial amount of time making the new joiner feel included. In order to have clarity about their own work, the new employee should know what the other team members specifically do. Assigning a buddy or a mentor would also be very helpful in acclimating the new employee. 
  • Meet with the leaders: Introduce your new hire to the managers, CEO, and other leaders. The leaders would be able to better explain about the company’s history, mission, values, and future plans. This would also help the new employee feel involved.
  • Office tour: Give a tour of all the important areas of the office to your new joiner on day one. This includes but is not limited to the restroom, HR office, kitchen, parking space, work station, and the clinic. 

5. Training

  • General training: Before you start your new hire training process for a specific job description, it’s good to educate a new employee on the company culture, processes, expectations, objectives, and their role in making an impact. This step in the new hire onboarding process would give the employee a sense of direction and motivation to perform well.
  • Job-specific training: Every team has its own culture, unique workflows, and different tools used for work. The work of a writer would be vastly different from that of a marketer. This is why, for a successful onboarding, mentors must teach the nitty gritties of their craft to the new team members. For instance, sales people need to get a comprehensive idea about the company before they can start with their sales pitches. Likewise, developers need to spend time understanding the codebases and architectures. A good learning management system is paramount for effective onboarding. Our thoroughly researched list of best learning management systems might help you choose.

6. Check-ins

  • First week check-in: With so much to learn and so many things to get a hang of, the first week at a new company is usually always overwhelming. Check in with your new employee at the end of the week to ensure they feel welcomed and are comfortable dealing with new software. 
  • First month check-in: By now, your new hire has started to get the hang of work. Although managers should have regular check-ins throughout the first year of the new hire, the first-month milestone is particularly important. Ensure that your employee received their first paycheck on time and check in with them to see if they’re getting along with everyone and making work progress.
  • Three-month check-in: 86% of new hires decide to leave or stay within the first six months. If you want to improve your retention, check in regularly with your employee for the first three months. Review their work frequently, give them thoughtful feedback, schedule relevant training, and organize social gatherings.

7. Performance review

  • Feedback and appraisal: The entire onboarding process usually comes to an end after the first year. If your template for onboarding was thoughtfully curated, it would probably reflect in the performance of the employee. Give constructive feedback and discuss any changes to compensation.
  • Future development: Encourage your employee to share his or her future aspirations and help create a roadmap for the same.



An employee using a computer


Integrating a new employee into your company can look like a daunting task but doesn’t have to be. This onboarding template has been made after hours of research and draws inspiration from companies that boast of a great hiring culture. Use it to improve your employee satisfaction and retention rates.

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