The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist.

Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist.

Featured Bonus Content: Download the Onboarding Checklists For Different Employee Roles at your Company! Click Here To Download It.


Hey there, congratulations on your new hire! But this is just the beginning. Now you have to run through your onboarding checklist to get your new hire settled in.

But wait. Do you have an onboarding checklist prepared for your new employee?

If the answer is NO, then you should read this guide.

What is an onboarding process?

Onboarding is the process of welcoming your new employee into your organization and ensuring they have all the necessary tools, resources, support and knowledge to become successful and highly productive at your organization.

According to a study carried out by CAP, the cost for replacing an employee is about 16 percent of the annual salary of low-income earners and sometimes as much as 213 percent for executives. Therefore, if you do not get the onboarding process right, you will lose a lot of money to employee turnover.

If you do not have an onboarding process yet for your new hires, then you should develop one. This guide will walk you through the steps to develop an onboarding checklist to help integrate new employees as quickly as possible. It covers the A to Z of onboarding with checklists you can adapt for your organization; by the time you are done with reading, you will have a clear picture of how to develop a seamless onboarding process for your organization.

However, you should not mistake onboarding for training. Organizations believe in training new hires to acquaint them with the daily tasks they will be facing when they begin work. The focus of training, however, is too narrow. Onboarding, on the other hand, entails every single detail and aims to establish a smooth working relationship between the new hire and other members of the team.

Most organizations are always in a hurry to fill up vacancies and often get carried away without giving the new hire the attention, tools, resources and knowledge that will help them at their new job.

What’s Included (Chapter List)

Chapter One: Why You Need Onboarding to Get Better Results From New Hires

Chapter Two: 10 Onboarding Facts and Figures You Need to Know Now

Chapter Three: Key Benefits of a Standard Onboarding Program for Organizational Transformation

Chapter Four: Formal vs. Informal Onboarding – Understanding the Best for Your Organization

Chapter Five: Top 8 Onboarding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Chapter Six: The 5-Step Process to Developing an Effective Onboarding Program

Chapter Seven: Adopting a Timeline Sequence to Keep Up With Your Onboarding Process

Chapter Eight: Pre-Orientation Before Day One for a Good Start

Chapter Nine: The Onboarding Checklist Strategy for a Hitch-Free Onboarding Program

Chapter Ten: Custom Onboarding Checklists for Different Employees

Chapter Eleven: Top Onboarding Planning Tools for Best Results

Why You Need Onboarding to Get Better Results From New Hires

Why You Need Onboarding to Get Better Results From New Hires

The workplace is a beehive of activities, and when a new hire joins your team, they will find it difficult to blend into the stream of activities going on around them. We don’t want an employee looking lost and feeling confused on their first day, now do we?

I bet your answer is “No.”

Put yourself in their shoes and imagine coming into an organization for the first time to join the team. How would you feel if on your first day of work, you were presented with few details on what is expected? Or if nothing was prepared for you and you have to just sit and watch everyone going about their activities as though you didn’t matter?

Not good, right?

In a survey carried out by the Allied Workforce Mobility, only 39 percent of companies took time to define the role of their new hire, and this has left new hires with the challenge of getting things right from day one.

New hires need to feel wanted, and this should start even before they come onboard. Proper onboarding reduces the chances of new hires developing second thoughts about joining your organization and helps them give their best from day one.

So by now, I hope you’ll agree that your organization definitely needs an onboarding process.

Still need more proof? In the next chapter, we look at some onboarding facts and figures that will amaze you.

10 Onboarding Facts and Figures You Need to Know Now!

The need for an effective onboarding program for your organization cannot be overemphasized. Here are some points worthy of mention about onboarding programs and their effect on retention, turnover, performance and productivity.

  • New hires who go through a well-structured onboarding orientation process were 69 percent more likely to remain at the same company for up to three years. Poor onboarding programs leave a new employee in a state of confusion, alienation, and lack of confidence, which can eventually cause them to leave the organization (source).
  • About 35 percent of organizations indicated they do not have a budget for onboarding new employees. This means they are spending a lot to hire someone, but spending nothing, in addition, to keep them productive; this is a very bad move (source).
  • About 30 percent of organizations, who constantly update their onboarding process, are more like to respond better too new employee trends and industry indicators (source).
  • It costs an organization 16 to 20 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace them (source).
  • The best companies or organizations will begin their onboarding process before day one 35 percent of the time (source).
  • About 22 percent of organizations do not have any formal onboarding program in place for their new hires. This sets the employee up for failure from day one (source).
  • Companies and organizations in the U.S. and U.K. are estimated to spend $37 billion annually for employees that are not productive because they do not understand their job (source).
  • Having a well-organized, onboarding process sets up an organization for up to 50 percent new employee productivity and performance (source).
  • An organization with a longer onboarding program produces employees who gain full proficiency 34 percent faster than others with shorter programs (source).
  • When employees pass through formal onboarding training, they boost their managers’ satisfaction by 20 percent and this, in turn, increases performance (source).

This infographic  has all the most important onboarding facts and figures.

10 Onboarding Facts and Figures You Need to Know Now!

Want to embed this infographic on your website or blog? Copy and paste the following code:

<b>++ Click Image to Enlarge ++</b><br /><a href=””><img src=”” alt=”The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist.”></a><br />Source: <a href=””>The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist.</a>

This brings us to the question: Of what benefit is a standard onboarding program to your organization?

Want to know?

Read on as we take a look at the key benefits of a standard onboarding program and how it can help your organization.

Key Benefits of a Standard Onboarding Program for Organizational Transformation

The need for a standard onboarding program cannot be over-emphasized as it can make or mar the outcome of your new employee. After all, 90 percent of employees decide whether to stay or leave their new jobs within the first six months. So the first six months is crucial, and as an employer, you have the power to influence the decision of your new employee via an excellent onboarding process that helps them settle in a timely and comfortable manner.

In a survey of employees carried out by Office Team, more than half said they had experienced one form of mishap or another; this can be linked to a poor onboarding program. About 33 percent of employees said that technology was not properly set up, 22 percent said they didn’t receive the necessary supplies, 16 percent did not get an overview of the company and its policies, 15 percent said they were not introduced to their coworkers, and 14 percent reported that they were not given a tour of the office. All of the aforementioned points can hinder the performance of a new hire and should be avoided (source).

The survey results of employees regarding their onboarding process.

Image Source: SocialTalent

An effective onboarding program has a domino-like effect. When an employee goes through a proper one, they perform better. More productivity means better results, and this moves an organization closer to its goals.

Key benefits of a good onboarding program include the following:

  • A reduction in turnover: Proper employee onboarding helps with employee retention and saves your organization the time and money that would have been spent on another set of new hires.
  • A boost in business growth: An employee who goes through proper onboarding is better engaged and aligned with the goals of the organization from day one. According to Gallup, they also have a 147 percent increase in earnings per share than their competition.
  • Encourage open communication and trust: With a proper onboarding program, new hires understand the need for communication at every step, and they learn to trust the organization and put in their best effort too.

Onboarding is an all-encompassing process and should be done properly. How should you go about it? The formal or the informal way? Which is the best choice? Read on as we look at the best way to set up your onboarding process to maximize your employment efforts.

Formal vs. Informal Onboarding – Understanding the Best for Your Organization

Formal vs. Informal Onboarding – Understanding the Best for Your Organization

The onboarding process adopted by every organization is a function of its existing culture. There is no single method for creating a general onboarding program. Each organization has to create a unique onboarding process based on the goals they want to achieve with their new hires.

The formal form of onboarding involves taking actions at given timelines, and this yields better result. Informal onboarding, on the other hand, has no hard and fast rule; the process often makes new hires feel neglected. It does not involve proper documentation or working with timelines, which makes it difficult to track progress and feedback from new hires.

In 2008, First Horizon National in Tennessee suffered a large number of employee layoff and needed to restructure. Their HR was challenged engage the employees in new tasks as soon as possible and get them to fill the new void. There was a need to use an onboarding checklist. They went for the formal onboarding process. This allowed them to get started immediately and improve based on feedback as time went on.

Informal onboarding leaves too many facts to chance, while formal onboarding mandates employees to follow a pattern without making them feel overwhelmed. The result proves that employees had a stress-free transition with their new roles. This led to increased efficiency.

Generally, formal onboarding programs are better. To further help, the Society For Human Resources (SFHR) has come up with established components that should be included in your onboarding program:

  • Compliance: This covers the basics in your organization with regard to policies and acceptable procedures. This forms the lowest level of integration of new employees into your organization. They are taken through the details on safety regulations, confidentiality needs, company policies, departmental procedures, as well as harassment prevention.
  • Clarification: This process involves detailed explanation of the duties and expectations of the new employee. They get to know the organizational/team goals and their relevance to achieving these goals. This sets them up for what lies ahead so they know what is expected of them as well as the implications of not getting their job done.
  • Culture: Exposure to company culture commences even before new hires start working at your organization. They learn about your organizational culture from your websites or during interview sessions. New hires should become familiar with your organization’s values, mission and vision. They should also have a good knowledge of company history and mode of communication in your organization.
  • Connection: New hires should be properly integrated with team members and subgroups. There should be proper development of interpersonal relationships and communication channels to help them settle in nicely. Managers can also assign a guide or mentor to new hires; this will help them scale through the first few months of joining your organization.

One final step is feedback. Ensure that you get feedback from new hires and periodically check back to see how they are coping with their new role.

Next up are the common onboarding mistakes organizations make. Keep reading to find out if you are guilty of any of them!

Top 8 Onboarding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It’s true that the cost of employing a new hire is on the increase, so organizations should be spending more time and money on determining how to achieve their goals for business growth, instead of spending it on interviewing potential new hires.

Therefore, it’s important to get your new employee onboarding process right the first time to save your organization the trouble of dealing with increasing turnover. So what can you do to establish creative employee onboarding process?

Top 8 Onboarding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Let your organization be like the wise man and use these proven onboarding checklists to get it right the first time. These tips can help organizations avoid making common mistakes with new hires and learn some unique onboarding ideas to adopt:

1) Starting Too Late

Do you plan to commence onboarding of your new hire from the first day they start work?

Well, that’s too late! Surprised? Don’t be.

The best time to start onboarding your new hire is before their first day. Doing so helps them prepare and familiarize themselves with what is expected. Moreover, they also get the chance to pinpoint any gray areas where they might need further clarification to be sorted out before they start.

2) Poor Prioritization of Information Delivered

Have you informed your new employee about the vacation policy or insurance options in your organization? While it is necessary for new hire to know the former, you should start with more vital information and details during the onboarding process. Make sure to discuss goals and expectations of them. They should also know who to report to in case of problems

3) Relying on a Paper System

Have you handed over the updated employee handbook, benefits policy and employee paperwork to your new employee? With the shift to digital formats, it would be a waste of resources to send out bulk paperwork to new employees.

Don’t make this mistake. Adopt digital forms and software to make the process easier and faster! HR can email digital forms to new employees so they can fill out their paperwork from wherever they are, instead of waiting for them to go through papers and documents.

4) Letting Go Too Early

Does your new employee seem comfortable within the first few days? Have you stopped checking on them because they seem to be doing fine?

It is bad onboarding practice to let new hire stand on their own too soon! Even if you know that they have the experience to pull through, you should still follow up and get feedback. This helps you catch any issues that might crop up and ensures a smooth onboarding process.

5) No Warm Welcome

Do you lead your new employee straight to their desk and expect them do dive in straight away? Going straight to business is great, but remember that new hires are human and would appreciate a warm welcome.

The truth is, you never forget how nice you were treated on the first day at work, and this can transform the attitude of a new employee.

One way to give a warm welcome could be by placing a welcome sign and having their desk completely stocked and ready. You can also go the extra mile and have a co-worker take them out to lunch on the first day. I bet they will reciprocate the kind gesture and put in their best at your organization.

6) No Grand Tour

Nothing is worse than the feeling of being lost and not knowing how to find your way around at a new job. This can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant. Therefore, you should organize a tour for new hires so they can feel more comfortable and relaxed in the office.

7) Not Getting Help

Onboarding new employees can sometime be overwhelming. If your organization has its hands full, then you should consider bringing in a third party to help you design a process and onboard your new employees with programs that fit your company’s goal. Failure to get help when necessary might cost you the loss of employees with the possibility of increasing employee turnover.

8) Skipping One-on-One Intros

Introducing your new employee to their team members or co-workers in a meeting or crowded conference room is not ideal. New employees often feel overwhelmed and might not remember everyone easily. However, a gradual one-on-one intro helps them get to know team members and other co-workers better; this also makes it easier for them to remember each person individually.

Employee onboarding is an intensive and long program that should be taken seriously. Knowing about common pitfalls gives you the chance to avoid them in your onboarding process while embracing more friendly and creative ways to bring on new hires.

Are you ready to transform your new employee onboarding process and organization? Then, read on to see how to develop an effective onboarding program.

The 5-Step Process to Developing an Effective Onboarding Program

Onboarding programs are usually unique to each organization. This is because the culture of organizations differs. Therefore, you have to develop an onboarding program that helps you achieve your organization’s set goal. For instance, a new employee might be used to working with minimal supervision and giving only monthly report at a previous job.

If, however, the new job requires submission of weekly reports and this is not defined, it would appear as though the hire is not keeping up with what is needed. When you help the new hire understand the culture in the new organization, they blend in easily.

But you need to develop an onboarding program to help you capture all the details. Then, then you can adapt it further to suit the exact position of the new hire, and this becomes your onboarding program template that you can use for several other new employees with a bit of modification.

For example, RehabCare wanted to improve the efficiency of new hires and opted to have a new onboarding program developed. The new system developed adopted a lot of automation and centralized systems. They reduced paperwork and made necessary information available online for new hire to go through at their convenience prior to starting their new job.

In the end, the organization end up with a better program and reduced their bulky, twenty-plus-page new employee packet to a one-page welcome and orientation sheets to guide them through the process. Now, new hires would have a better experience during the onboarding process, which leads to more efficiency.

Want to have same results for your organization? How about developing a program that’ll work for you? Here is a five-step process to follow:

1) Carry out an assessment

Carry out an assessment

To develop an effective onboarding program, you need to work backwards. What this means is that you should project and imagine where you want your organization to be in the next three to five years.

Then, assess what you need to get there and identify the issues preventing you from achieving this. These issues can be the required skill or tasks that need to completed to get you to your goal. List and match them with an employee who can handle it.

2) Decide on a suitable program design

Decide on a suitable program design

Now that you understand the requirements to achieve your goal through your new hire, then you can list out duties and responsibilities.

Come up with a structure that will help execute tasks to reach your goal. However, make sure that this is realistic and achievable. Adapt it to reflect the current culture in your organization, but do not make it complicated.

3) Organize your content

Organize your content

Decide what should be done first, which tasks are urgent? Also, identify and procure the tools and resources needed to ease the execution of these tasks.

For example, if you want your new hire to use software to execute a task, then you should have it ready and have their profile created with a brief training on how to use it.

You can send these details ahead of time to ensure that they go through them before reporting to work to ease the communication and delivery process.

4) Set up a feedback process

Set up a feedback process

Figure out how to get feedback from new employees. What period is best and how soon should they get back to you? These details will help you track the progress of your onboarding program so you can make adjustments before things go from “bad” to “worse.” Do so weekly or twice a month, depending on the volume of work available.

5) Evaluate and adjust

Evaluate and adjust

Besides a feedback system, you also need one to evaluate employee progress. What are key indicators of positive effects of your onboarding process? And if it is not working, do you have a plan B?

Sometimes, things might not turn out the way we planned. During evaluation, you should be able to put things back in perspective to get everything back on track. Having more than one option makes the adjustment a whole lot easier, and your new employee can easily bounce back to their journey on achieving the set goal.

Follow our five-step process to come up with a workable onboarding program. Next, adapt it to reflect your targets and organizational goals! Let’s see how you can keep things in check.

Adopting a Timeline Sequence to Keep Up With Your Onboarding

Adopting a Timeline Sequence to Keep Up With Your Onboarding

When it comes to onboarding, there is no “one size fits all.” Therefore, every organization needs to come up with a strategy suited to their needs.

The timeline should be something that works for both your new employee and business goals. It should feature a breakdown of what the new employee should be doing and when they should get it done. Additionally, the sequence should include office procedures, software training, team training sessions, as well as any other skill-building they need to be effective.

When you have good timeline, it helps you develop an effective training program that fits in line for better results. The sequence of your timeline can be as follows:

  • A pre-first day schedule
  • First day
  • First week
  • First month
  • First three months
  • First six months
  • First year

When you define what you want to achieve during each period, then you can outline the tasks that need to be carried out to help you reach this goal.

With the timeline figured out, you may be thinking of activities to include at each phase of your timeline. Well, we’ve got you covered. Stay tuned as we take a look at what you should be doing at each stage of the onboarding process.

Pre-Orientation Before Day One for a Good Start

Pre-Orientation Before Day One for a Good Start

Image Credit: Julien Bachelet from Pexels

For your onboarding program to be effective, you need to start early. This means commencing the process even before the employee has their first day. Waiting until the first day is not as effective as starting a day before.

Even big giants like Google start early and have adopted the use of onboarding checklists to help them. In fact, Google’s HR was able to accelerate employees’ time-to-productivity by 25 percent. The HR team simply sent out e-mails on Sunday before new hires started, reminding the managers to consider five tasks that Google has identified via data analysis to be very important for the success of the new hire. The managers then follow through and carry out these tasks without feeling pushed to get it done. This simple technique has made a major difference for Google.

Here is a pre-orientation to-do list so you know what you need to do early on before day one:

  • Send a welcome e-mail or letter. This should be personalized. You may want to follow up with a phone call to brief them on dress code, company policies and a run-down of their expected schedule on the first day.
  • Complete pre-employment physical checks.
  • Carry out a complete background check.
  • Determine the set-up of the employee’s desk as well as location and type of furniture.
  • The IT department should handle access to phones, computer, and profiles to ease the pressure on day one.
  • Create a nameplate, employee ID and business cards, if necessary.
  • Send out an email to concerned existing staff to announce the arrival of the new employee.
  • Update relevant team lists and documents, such as staff schedule lists, birthday lists and organizational charts.

Share this checklist with team members who will be directly responsible for the tasks listed.

Provide Resources, Support and Follow Up

Once you have a to-do list, ensure the resources needed to execute every step is made available to team members directly involved in the process. For example, if a particular team needs to handle a project, then you should send out the details of the project way ahead of time so that they can digest it and be able to provide meaningful contributions when the need arises. Provide support along the way and put in corrective measures to ensure compliance.

This brings us to how to simplify your onboarding process. Do you have an onboarding checklist? If your answer is “No,” then stay with me as we cover the checklist strategy for your onboarding program.

The Onboarding Checklist Strategy for a Hitch-Free Onboarding Program

The Onboarding Checklist Strategy for a Hitch-Free Onboarding Program

The process of onboarding a new hire can be burdensome, if not done properly. You must make sure every step is carried out and no stone is left unturned.

To help you with this, create an onboarding checklist that lists all the tasks that need to be done and when. It is the most important tool to ensure a smooth onboarding program.

Top 5 Benefits of Having a Checklist for Your Onboarding Process

  • Great for duplication of processes. All new employees joining your organization are treated equally.
  • Helps you keep track of your new employee and monitor their progress.
  • Ensures you do not forget to pass on critical information to your new employee.
  • Helps retain top talent and make the best use of their time.
  • Makes the first months of new hires run a smooth course as they are gradually integrated into your organization.

One challenge is that each employee job description differs and so does their onboarding process. That’s why we discuss specific checklists to suit different employees in the next section.

Custom Onboarding Checklists for Different Employees

An onboarding checklist varies from one job position to another. For instance, a checklist suitable for a manager might not be suitable for IT personnel. For this reason, we have come up with several onboarding checklist templates that caters to different employees.

1) New Employee Onboarding Checklist

New Employee Onboarding Checklist

Download the “New Employee Onboarding Checklist” here.

2) New Manager Onboarding Checklist

New Manager Onboarding Checklist

Download the “New Manager Onboarding Checklist” here.

3) Onboarding Checklist for IT

Onboarding Checklist for IT

Download the “Onboarding Checklist for IT” here.

4) HR Onboarding Checklist

HR Onboarding Checklist

Download the “HR Onboarding Checklist” here.

You can download all the files for each template and adapt these templates to suit your needs and make the onboarding process seamless.

Do you want more tools and resources? The next chapter covers what you need to keep up with your onboarding program.

Top Onboarding Planning Tools for Best Results

Top Onboarding Planning Tools for Best Results

When you have the right templates, tools and resources for your onboarding process, you’ll find it easy to adhere to it. Imagine having to start everything from scratch. You waste time and resources that would have otherwise been used for other projects. Templates are great to keep you a step ahead and get things done more efficiently and effectively.

You should put together the following onboarding planning tools and resources:

1) Job Offer e-mail template

This should be set up based on the conditions of employment. It should cover details such as:

  • A Brief report on employee performance at the interview
    • Salary package to be offered
    • Details of benefits, e.g., vacation, insurance, 401k, etc.
    • Start date

2) New employee announcement e-mail template

3) Onboarding feedback form

Onboarding feedback form

Download the “Onboarding Feedback Form” here.

Feedback helps you keep up with the onboarding process so you can easily identify areas that do not deliver any value. The feedback form is an orientation evaluation, which allows new hires express themselves and tell you how the feel about the onboarding process.

Points to cover include:

  • The best part of their experience
    • The worst part of their experience
    • How they perceived the orientation process
    • Level of satisfaction with the process

Keep in mind the feedback form is meant for both existing employees and the new employee.

Download and customize these templates to use them for your onboarding program.

Although the employee onboarding process might seem complex, it is a simple way of ensuring your new hires get it right from day one. The long-term benefits are worth the effort; it helps you retain and integrate your new hires without much hassle.

We have put together all the templates discussed as well as the checklists in a downloadable PDF format so you can use them to develop your onboarding process without stressing out about the details.

Click the image below to download templates and here to download checklists

4 Easy to Use New Employee Onboarding Checklists

Have you been using an employee onboarding process in your organization? Share your experiences with us in the comments section!

Get Your Free Systemization Checklist

Systemize Checklist
5 Essential Steps To Getting a Task Out of Your Head and Into a System So You Can Scale and Grow Your Business!
Stop being the bottleneck in your company

4 responses to “The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist.”

  1. Bob says:

    Why put your text in light grey and some of it in light blue. Sure it looks good but very hard to read. I was planning to read through it, but moving on.

  2. stevesweetprocess says:

    trying to download the checklist..but it doesn’t go anywhere?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *