New Hire Onboarding Checklist For HR Managers

A complete list of the essential tasks for a successful new hire onboarding – both in-person and remote

by Nick Schurk - May 23, 2022

Onboarding new employees is one of the most important parts of the new hire process, if not the most important of all. Successful onboarding will set the tone for a mutually respectful professional relationship and get your new team members excited about their new opportunity! However, the actual execution of a positive onboarding experience is much easier said than done.

According to Gallup, only 12% of employees feel that their company does a great job at onboarding new hires. That being said, remember that difficult does not equal impossible. We’ve put together a new hire onboarding checklist to elevate your process for bringing new people onto your team! And don’t worry – whether you’re in person, online, or hybrid, we’ve got you covered!

Download The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist

What are the 3 Phases of Onboarding?

In order to curate the ideal onboarding checklist, we first need to understand what all goes into the umbrella term of “onboarding” – what exactly is an adequate onboarding process? If we look closer, we see that we need to address the phases of:

  • Preboarding
  • Actual Onboarding
  • Follow-Up

Let’s talk about what these phases entail and go through some key points for each to make the ultimate onboarding checklist!

1. New Hire Preboarding

Preboarding is your chance to get an early win with your new hire. Make them feel appreciated before they even step in the door! Also, handle some administrative tasks beforehand so that their actual first day can be as full of fun as possible! Here’s how to welcome a new employee to the team prior to their official start:

Create an Onboarding Program with Goal Tracking.

Before you start bringing in new employees, create an onboarding plan through which you can provide training, and track the progress of employees to set them up for success.

This plan could either be a part of your larger employee onboarding strategy, or a separate plan just for remote employees.

In any case, such a plan should include:

  • A 30/60/90-day program list
  • Regular video and email check-ins
  • Goal tracking in real-time

A pre-built plan will let you onboard as many employees as the company needs, and focus primarily on training and developing the new team members.

Send the offer letter and make it special.

If you use an onboarding system, you can easily create a personalized letter from a template. Bonus points if you go the extra mile and include a personalized onboarding video as a follow-up to your candidate’s acceptance! Programs like Loom make it super easy to send a short welcome video to new hires after they accept your offer. This is also a great opportunity to communicate core values, give employees a preview of the awesome organization they’re joining, and highlight the company culture.

Whether you’ve gone fully remote or are staying in the office, getting a welcoming message out can make a world of a difference. Have existing employees record personal experiences for a warm welcome.

Collect personal information, such as address and emergency contacts.

Ask whether they have any allergies, dietary preferences, or special needs. Also, collect any necessary certificates from your employee!

Send Links to the Company’s Online Assets (training videos, culture articles, databases, etc.)

Before the employee joins formally, send them links to any and all relevant online material that will help them get an idea of what your company is about.

This means providing access to:

  • Blog posts/articles about the company’s culture, values, its place in the industry, and its goals
  • Videos and multimedia guides, such as explainer videos, and presentations
  • Links to published material from senior company members, experts, and thought leaders

Empower new hires with the freedom to calculate costs and enroll in benefits. We’ll help them find the right plan for their families

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 HR management system like GoCo’s can create this preview automatically, so you won’t need to manually create a new one year after year.

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 form.) Also, ask your employee to fill out their direct deposit authorization form. However, this won’t be necessary if they receive physical paychecks.

Complete the I-9 form with the employee and prompt them to bring the appropriate eligibility documents to work on their first day.

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.)

Necessary document examples include a U.S. passport, Permanent Resident Card, Employment Authorization Document, driver’s license, and Social Security card to help 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.

Run a background check on the new hire.

Ensure nothing surfaces that would prohibit the employee from working for your company.

Set up an email account for the new hire.

Send log-in instructions by email so that the employee has an active email account from the beginning of day one.

Send out a welcome email introducing the new employee to the team they’ll be working with.

That way, everyone will know who the new employee is and will greet them warmly as they come in.

Send a new hire swag welcome kit.

Make your new hire feel welcome with a creative welcome package that reflects your company culture.

These administrative elements can actually be made more efficient with an HRIS so that you can minimize the headache for both new hires and yourself! GoCo’s Workflows feature allows you to streamline things like sending and signing the offer letter and other mandatory documents! We also offer the rest of the full onboarding suite – benefits administration, payroll set-up, and more!

Download The Ultimate New Hire Paperwork Checklist

2. New Employee Onboarding

It’s your new hire’s first day! You’ve warmed them up with some great preboarding measures and now it’s time to wow them with a great official start at your company!

Schedule a Remote/Hybrid Employee Orientation Session.

Set up a remote/hybrid orientation session, either with each individual employee, or in batches.

For such a meeting, you will need to:

  • Set up a video chat conferencing system that will send out reminders ahead of time.
  • Create an agenda for the meeting, and let every employee have it beforehand.
  • Provide digital copies of any documents (employee handbook, questionnaires, etc.) that employees will need for the discussion.

Individual remote orientation sessions will be better for employees who are coming in on a higher rank, or for a more important position within the company. These could be managers and junior executives. Group orientation sessions will be better for general team members, as they will feel like part of the team, from day one.

Invite employees to select their benefits.

They can also do this before their first day, but if they don’t, their first week is a good time to Inform them of when the benefits will become active and let them know you’re available to answer any questions.

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.

Give your new hire a tour.

If your new team member will be in the office for their first day, have their manager take them around the premises and show them everything your space has to offer!

Take your new team member out to lunch.

You can structure your day so that the tour of the office ends in a lunch outing! Not only is this a nice treat, but it’s also a great opportunity to get to know your new hire and start building that professional relationship outside of an office environment.

If it’s feasible, invite the rest of the team that the new hire will work with so that everyone can start getting acquainted! Another thing you could do is group some new hires together so that they feel less isolated and can build some bonds!

Schedule an HR Orientation.

After you have held the initial meetings, set up an orientation session with human resources. This is when employees can review and digitally sign HR documents.

These documents can include:

  • Company policies
  • Employee requirements
  • Details regarding PTO and benefits
  • Company account setup details, etc.

Again, since not all new remote employees will be entitled to the same benefits and perks, make sure to hold group HR orientations with employees of similar rank to avoid disparity.

Give Employees a ‘Review Period’.

Your remote employees will need to review all the material you have provided thus far. Give them some time to do so before proceeding with the onboarding. Depending on the number of assets they have to review, you can give them up to a week’s worth of reviewing time.

During this time, you can start onboarding other remote employees, so your time can also be optimized.

In case you’re bringing several employees on board, make sure to provide the same time period to everyone, regardless of how quickly one or more of them finish reviewing.

For more tips on how to truly go above and beyond for your employee’s first day, check out our eBook on Creating a Great First Day!

3. Follow-Up & Career Development

Set up check-ins.

Plan a shorter check-in for the end of the first week and a more formal one after the first month the employee starts working for you. A solid structure for these check-ins would be at the 30, 60, and 90-day marks. These touchpoints ensure that the employee is on track and can allow them to express any concerns that they may be having during the early stages of their time with your company. The employee’s manager should also schedule regular 1-1 meetings with them.

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, as well as show the new hire their opinion matters when it comes to improving company culture.

Follow through with your promises.

Onboarding is a time when managers make a lot of claims and promises in order to get their new hire excited for all that’s to come! The true test will be your ability to fulfill these promises in an accurate and timely manner. Truly great employers will overdeliver, so HR and management should always strive to exceed expectations in terms of the employee experience!

Onboarding Best Practices For Remote New Hire

Remote onboarding is a bit different and requires some additional thought to make the experience valuable. Here are some of the items you can do to make your remote employee onboarding process effective and impactful.

Start the Onboarding Process Early.

Add employees to communications groups early on. Send them onboarding documents, orientation videos, and other valuable learning material to improve their overall skills before they even come in. This will ensure you don’t have to spend as much time helping them complete paperwork, or training them later on.

Adjust them to the Company Culture Beforehand.

Make sure the employees know the culture they are stepping into before they actually meet any of their coworkers on the first day. Remote employees also need to understand and agree with the company culture, despite their remote status. This is to prevent any issues during regular employment.

Create a Sense of Teamwork and Belonging.

Your remote employees may never have in-person interactions with their coworkers and teammates, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be connected with them. Make sure you hold plenty of online team meets, and encourage everyone to communicate regularly, to forge an emotional connection between employees. If you can, assign a mentor or orientation buddy to each new remote employee or group of employees.

Download The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist

Provide Collaborative Learning Opportunities.

Arrange team projects, problem-solving sessions, or cross-training sessions between remote teams. When new employees work together early on, they not only learn essential teamwork skills but also gain experience in cross-team support.

Onboarding may seem overwhelming – there are a ton of crucial administrative tasks to handle and you want to make sure you make a great first impression with your new employee! However, it doesn’t have to be all that complicated. Hopefully, this checklist has helped you organize your onboarding process and given you ideas for how to go above and beyond for your new team members!

How to Build a Custom Onboarding Checklist With GoCo

We’ve covered the necessary steps in a complete onboarding checklist. Now let’s cover how to create a custom checklist and start automating! Modern HR software like GoCo helps HR managers automate routine checklists and workflows in minutes.

Build Your Checklist in GoCo

With GoCo, you can drag and drop to create a custom onboarding checklist template that makes sense for your company, or create specific ones for each team or role.

Within your template:

  • Add names, descriptions, and icons
  • Designate permissions levels for users
  • Create tasks for sending the offer letter, creating an onboarding video, sending digital payroll documents, or even your specific company welcome package. Make sure to include all the tasks from your onboarding checklists above!
  • Insert relevant form fields to collect all the information you need (e-signatures, acknowledgments, and more)

Collaborate with Your Team in GoCo

  • Assign tasks to other departments or teammates, to keep everyone in the loop.
  • You can set custom owners, due dates, and approval flows that make sense for your onboarding workflow.
  • Group tasks by employee, manager and department

Track Progress of Your Onboarding Checklist in GoCo

  • Get an at-a-glance view of all of your onboarding employees, and track outstanding tasks
  • Trigger alerts and view task completion status in regards to your new-hire checklists!

Try our onboarding platform and create custom onboarding templates.

See how GoCo can simplify your HR