The essential employee onboarding checklist (free template included)

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Whether it's remote or back in the office, there's no reason why a company shouldn't have a proper employee onboarding checklist for its new hires in 2021.

If you've ever experienced a poor onboarding experience, you understand why it's so critical to have your ducks in a row for every new employee. In fact, you're more likely to have experienced subpar onboarding than not.

Research from Gallup found only 1 in 10 employees strongly believe they had a great onboarding experience at their organization. Throw a global pandemic in the mix and that number might even be lower.

We get it—there's a lot to go over, and adding too much information for new hires might feel counterintuitive. But first things first, you have to create a clear and easy-to-follow employee onboarding checklist for new hires to follow so you know you've covered every last little thing.

A great checklist includes relevant company information, scheduled time to meet the team, training docs, so much more. Luckily, we're here to help you set up your employee onboarding checklist with only the essentials.

What does an employee onboarding checklist really do?

Employee onboarding checklists are created to streamline employees into their new roles so they quickly and easily learn how your organization operates. Great onboarding doesn't just pull back the curtain for someone new.

Instead, the experience should be comfortable, welcoming, and exciting. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm and scare away a new hire—especially if your company just spent several weeks on the interview process and decision.

Not only does a great onboarding experience make new hires feel welcomed, it gives them confidence in your organization with access to important documents, processes, and optimized workflows. Some industry folks say onboarding is the true last phase of hiring.

Make it your organization's time to shine

If you really consider the experience you create for new hires, onboarding is a great opportunity to show off your company, culture, and inner workings one last time to seal the deal.

For those that don't create a good onboarding experience, data from Digitate suggests employees are 2 times more likely to search for new job opportunities shortly after joining.

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New employee onboarding checklist template

Help new employees get up to speed quickly with our employee onboarding template — or create your own checklist template to showcase your unique company culture.

Try our employee onboarding template

It's so important to get things right the first time and a well-developed employee onboarding checklist ensures you're doing everything to help new hires.

The 4 essential stages of your employee onboarding checklist 

Listen, every company is unique. But there are some common goals and stages that make sense for most organizations when it comes to onboarding.

Whether you want to cherry-pick from our checklist or use the Teamwork new employee onboarding template, we've got you covered.

Stage 1: Before the start date

  • New-hire forms for HR

  • Work equipment and resources

  • Logins and account details

  • Office information

  • Swag details

Stage 2: Essentials for day one

  • Meet the team

  • Coffee buddy system

  • Office tour

  • Workspace setup

  • Security run down

  • Team responsibilities

Stage 3: Day-to-day training

  • Software training

  • Invitations to weekly meetings

  • Daily tasks

  • End of week check-in

Stage 4: Ongoing cultivation

  • 30, 60, 90-day check-ins

  • Scheduled evaluations

  • Software review

  • Future training and goals

  • Meet the CEO or founder

After the interviews are completed, candidates are picked, and they've accepted their offer, it's time to get things in order to bring them on board. This includes all the boring documents, but getting these forms out of the way first gives you more time to spend with them on day one.

In your employee onboarding checklist, the first areas for a new hire to check off include things like:

  • New hire forms for HR: This includes documents like direct deposit forms, NDAs, emergency contact information, tax documents, medical history, background check forms, equity information, and other necessary contracts required before starting. 

  • Work equipment and requests: If you offer Apple and Windows computers, make sure these forms are sent out beforehand (with delivery address information for remote workers). Additionally, if you provide any other work equipment, get this out the door now.

  • Logins and account details: It's smart not to give every login under the sun until they officially start, but access information to email or other essential tools like project management software to see their first day and know what will be expected.

  • Office information: Send out the essential information for the employee’s first day–even if it feels redundant. This should include the office address, parking information, dress code, the actual start date and time, who to talk to first when they arrive, an update on their first day's lunch, or anything other important things to actually get there.

  • Swag details: If you provide some branded swag, this is the perfect time to ask for t-shirt sizes so you can start gathering all the knick-knacks for their first day.

Stage 2: Essentials for day one

Everything needed to start should be in order, but now it's time to actually welcome your new hires. This area is what can make or break your onboarding experience.

Here are some things you might want to do during the employee’s first day or week:

  • Meet the team: Schedule time in the new hire's calendar to meet the rest of the team individually, have a welcoming lunch, coffee, or a virtual meet-and-greet.  

  • Coffee buddy system: First days are a bit nerve-racking, so this is a great chance to start a coffee buddy system. This allows the new hire to meet with an existing employee who can show the ropes of the organization in the first week.

  • Office tour: Give your new employee a grand tour of your facilities like break rooms or restrooms, and don't forget to give them any codes, key fobs, or access cards for the office. If they’re remote, you can walk them through the behind-the-scenes of your company to give them a deeper insight.

  • Workspace setup: Show your new employee their workspace and make sure they’re comfortable with the equipment you’ve provided. Let them know where they can keep their personal belongings and where they can find important files and resources. 

  • Security run down: Make sure the new hire knows about fire escapes and safety protocols in the building.

  • Team responsibilities: This is a great chance to introduce team leaders from around the organization so new hires can understand how each department operates. 

Stage 3: Day-to-day training and scheduling

When a new employee is finally settled at their desk, met everyone they need to, and has a good grasp of the company’s protocols, you can move on to training them.

The amount of training a new hire needs will depend on their experience. But it's usually best to treat all levels of new hires similarly so you don't assume they know something important.

Here are some things you can consider doing at this stage: 

  • Software training: Introduce new employees to any software you use or what kind of task management solutions they'll use to manage their own team. Give them access to demos or show them first-hand how to use them. 

  • Invitations to weekly meetings: Team members should know the relevant weekly meetings expected for the new hire. Make sure they're properly invited on their calendars to attend and observe or catch up.

  • Daily tasks: The first week is all about getting a new employee settled, but you can give them daily tasks to do that will help them get a feel for their new role. This could be as simple as completing software training or spending more time with your own product or service.

  • End of week check-in: Try to put some time on your new hire's calendar to meet with their direct manager in the first week. This should be a very casual meeting and simply work as a way to check in on their progress.

Stage 4: Ongoing cultivation 

After the first week, your new employee should have a good understanding of your company and their role in it. Now, it’s a case of making sure they remain happy and giving them the resources and support they need to thrive. 

Here are some things you can do at this stage:

  • 30, 60, 90-day check-ins: If possible, hiring managers should have a separate 30, 60, and 90-day check-in to ensure the role is going smoothly. It helps to have someone not directly on the team ask these questions and work as an outside facilitator.

  • Scheduled evaluations: Set goals early on and make sure you regularly check in with the new employee to see how they’re getting on with them. Most organizations have quarterly, or bi-annual evaluation periods. 

  • Software review: Make sure the new employee is comfortable with the tools and software you use. They might want another demo or walkthrough, particularly if they are starting to use the tool for something different. 

  • Future training and goals: Map out a training and goal schedule for new employees to give them a look at what is expected over the next few months.

  • Meet the CEO or founder: Again, no matter what the level of the position, every employee should get the chance to meet with the CEO or founder. If you have an open-door policy, this dramatically helps ease tensions and shows new hires your dedication to the team.

Creating your own employee onboarding checklist

It takes a lot of time to welcome new employees and bring them up to speed. If you regularly hire new staff, it can become time-consuming trying to make sure you’ve done everything you need to.

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New employee onboarding checklist template

Help new employees get up to speed quickly with our employee onboarding template — or create your own checklist template to showcase your unique company culture.

Try our employee onboarding template

Teamwork’s employee onboarding template gives you an overview you can replicate time and time again. Each item in the checklist can be ticked off once complete, giving stakeholders the chance to see what’s been done and what still needs to happen. You can also take a look at how Teamwork uses Teamwork for recruiting and onboarding for more insights.

Once you’ve got your template set up, you can re-use it for every new hire. This creates a slick and streamlined onboarding process that not only saves you time, but that also gives new employees a great first impression of your company.

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