The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist For HR Managers

Key Steps to Simplify Your Onboarding Process

Onboarding plays a key role in shaping the first impression new hires form about your company. Unfortunately, many HR departments struggle to get it right, missing vital elements of the process and using systems that don’t create an optimal employee experience.

Small and medium-size companies often face distinct challenges with onboarding:

  • Antiquated workflows involving lots of paper-pushing.
  • Dealing with different systems that don’t sync up their data.
  • Struggling to stay up-to-date with compliance-related laws.

In a small business, onboarding may fall into the lap of a manager with little HR experience. Small and medium-size companies may find themselves using cumbersome, outdated processes because they believe a software solution is out of their budget.

According to a Gallup survey, only 12% of employees feel their company does a great job with onboarding new employees. That’s a serious problem as onboarding plays a key role in determining employee engagement and retention.

Employees who go through a well-designed onboarding experience are 58% more likely to stay at their company for at least three years.

Companies that implement a pre-boarding process retain 81% of new hires through their first year. Why? If you have employees fill out forms before they start working, you’ll immediately engage them and make them feel like part of the team from the moment they arrive on the job. They’ll focus on the human element and their role—not filling out a stack of onboarding documents.

We created a new hire checklist that also includes key interpersonal elements of onboarding. Get a jump start on key tasks using this employee onboarding checklist, and you’ll make a strong first impression on your new hires.

Steps to onboard a new employee:

  • Send the offer letter. If you use an onboarding system, you can easily generate a personalized letter from a template.

  • Send a personalized video message. Programs like Loom make it super easy to send a short video welcome message to new hires after they accept your offer. Highlight the company culture in your messaging.

  • Share a link to an online directory. This will help new hires envision whom they’ll be working with and show them which key players they need to meet.

  • Collect personal information, such as address and emergency contacts. Ask whether they have any allergies, dietary preferences, or special needs.

  • Have new employees review the employee handbook. Invite them to ask any questions that may arise and prompt them to sign off on the document to confirm they’ve read it.

  • Send policy-related documents to the employee. For example, send the confidentiality agreement and policies on time off and parental leave. Ensure they’ve signed off on these documents as well.

  • Send a preview of the benefits package. This should include an overview of health insurance benefits as well as additional options like life insurance and disability coverage. A quality HRMS system like GoCo’s can create this preview automatically, so you won’t need to manually create a new one year after year.

  • Collect any necessary certificates from the employee. For example, if your organization is a school, get their teaching certificates on file.

  • Collect withholding and payroll information from the employee. Have the employee complete the W-4 form as well as state and local withholding forms. (GoCo offers a free tool that you can use to collect the W-4.)

  • Complete the I-9 form with the employee. They must complete Section 1 by the end of their first day, and Section 2 within three business days of their first day of work. GoCo also offers a free tool for collecting the I-9. (If you’re hiring an employee remotely, read SHRM’s guidance on how to handle the I-9.)

  • Ask the employee to fill out a direct deposit authorization form. This form won’t be necessary if they’ll be receiving paychecks instead.

  • Prompt employees to bring the appropriate eligibility documents to work on their first day. For example, a U.S. passport, Permanent Resident Card, driver’s license, and Social Security card can help to establish identity and employment eligibility (see the full list here). Compare these documents to the information on their I-9 form to ensure they’ve completed it accurately.

  • Invite employees to select their benefits. Inform them of when the benefits will become active and let them know you’re available to answer any questions.

  • Set up an email account for the new hire and create business cards. Send log-in instructions by email so that the employee has an active email account from the beginning of day one.

  • Set up a fully functioning workstation. Make sure the computer has all the software that the employee needs.

  • Send out a welcome email to all staff with whom the employee will be working. That way, everyone will know who the new employee is and will greet them warmly as they come in.

  • Plan the orientation day. Set up one-on-one introductions and group meet-and-greets in advance to make the day a success.

  • Introduce the training schedule. This plan will show new hires the support you’ll provide to get them up to speed, making them confident and enthusiastic.

  • Set up check-ins. Plan a shorter check-in for the end of the first week and a more formal one 30 to 60 days after the employee starts working for you.

  • Send out a quick survey about their onboarding experience. Four to seven questions work best. This step will help you pinpoint areas that need improvement.

Using this new employee onboarding checklist, you’ll make onboarding a pleasant experience rather than a hassle. Place this list in an easy-to-access spot to serve as your onboarding checklist template for all new hires.

GoCo’s employee onboarding software streamlines all of the above tasks, allowing you to onboard new hires in 15 minutes or less. The platform automates the paperwork elements of onboarding, ensuring you receive all HR forms promptly. New hires can easily start the onboarding process right after receiving the offer letter. Better yet—instead of filling out the same info over and over, new hires just need to enter it into the system once. The platform will then automatically populate it through the different forms they need to complete.

You can take a look at GoCo’s platform by creating a free account here!

With this onboarding process checklist, you’ll quickly make the employee feel like a core part of the team. New hires will also love that you prioritize efficient processes centered on a great employee experience. Your new employees will soon become productive members of your organization who want to stick around for years to come!

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