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The Essential Guide to Hiring and Onboarding in Tennessee

Ensure you follow all the steps to stay compliant while onboarding in Tennessee.

Anna Coucke

by Anna Coucke - April 3rd, 2023


Onboarding is an exciting time for everyone involved, but it also requires some not-so-exciting tasks – namely, paperwork. For those hiring and onboarding in Tennessee, we've put together this handy guide to help make the hiring and onboarding process as straightforward as possible, so you can focus on providing the most positive experience for your new employee.

Download The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist

Benefits of an Effective Hiring and Onboarding Process In Tennessee

Before they even start on their first assignment, new hires are sizing up your organization and deciding if they want to stick around. This is a critical time, with companies losing 17% of their new hires within the first three months of employment. Implementing effective hiring and onboarding processes ensures your new employees are in for the long haul.

Implementing a new hire onboarding checklist keeps new hires feeling confident and supported in their new journey with your company. It also ensures that HR is always on top of essential tasks like paperwork and compliance so they can focus on a positive onboarding experience for new employees.

Learn More About Your State's Compliance Requirements

Tennessee New Hire Paperwork

In Tennessee, the required new hire paperwork is similar to that of other states:

Some employers issue employee handbooks and/or forms related to specific company policies during onboarding. These might include but are not limited to:

  • Drug testing and background check consent

  • Direct deposit

  • Notification of workplace security or surveillance

  • Dress code policy

  • Pay deductions

  • Remote work policies 

  • Corporate travel

  • Performance review notifications

  • Other workplace regulations

If you don’t need to keep a signed copy of those forms, consider having the employee sign a single acknowledgment that they received the notices and will be accountable for them.

Tennessee Payroll & Tax Reporting Requirements 

Although Tennessee doesn’t have a state income tax, there are federal and miscellaneous income taxes that are required to be reported.

  • Federal income tax withholding – based on the information provided in their W-4, employees will have a portion of their wages withheld by their employer to pay federal income taxes.

  • Social Security & Medicare – under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), half of these taxes are paid by the employer, and the other half is paid from the employee’s wages.

  • Unemployment insurance – state and federal unemployment insurance are paid by the employer and is based on a percentage of each employee’s salary.

  • Worker’s compensation insurance – all businesses in Tennessee with employees are required to carry worker’s comp insurance.

Employers in Tennessee need to familiarize themselves with local labor laws that they must follow. While Tennessee is an at-will employment state, the Labor Standards Unit enforces six labor laws that help to protect Tennesee employees:

  • Child Labor Act

  • Wage Regulations Act

  • Prevailing Wage Act

  • Illegal Alien Act

  • Tennessee Lawful Employment Act

  • Non-Smoker Protection Act

While you don’t need to know these laws inside out, familiarizing yourself with requirements and what they mean for your organization is vital to stay compliant while hiring, onboarding, and beyond.

HR Duties Before the First Day of Work In Tennessee

Once you make the job offer and the candidate accepts it, you can’t sit back and relax until the employee’s start date. There's a lot of work to do in preparing for their arrival, all while juggling your other HR duties.

Here’s a rundown of the steps Tennessee employers can take now for a smooth, seamless first day:

1. Set up the new hire on payroll

If your payroll system allows, set up the new hire before their first day. This way, they can clock in as soon as they arrive for work. Plus, it saves you an extra step later by not having to adjust their timestamps manually.

2. Connect with the new hire’s manager and team

Your new hire’s manager was likely involved in the hiring decision. Still, it’s a good idea to connect with the manager (and the rest of the team) once you know their start date. This gives everyone time to prepare for the employee’s arrival and make them feel welcome. Get them involved in the onboarding experience so your new hire feels right at home.

3. Make arrangements to set up their workspace

One task you may offload to the new hire’s team is preparing their workspace. Make sure they have all the tools they need to be productive once onboarding concludes. 

4. Prepare company tools like keycards or codes

If your new hire will be working on-site, they may need basic access codes, key cards, or other tools to navigate the workplace. Prepare these ahead of time so you can hand them over during onboarding.

5. Create a first-day onboarding kit

The Tennessee employee onboarding process takes a lot of paperwork, and you can save time by preparing it in advance. Print all the necessary forms and place them in ready-to-sign kits. Or, if you’re using HR software like GoCo, you can generate your new hire’s onboarding paperwork and send it to them before their first day.

6. Prepare a new hire introduction

Bringing a new team member on board is an exciting time! Make them feel welcome from the get-go by preparing a company-wide introduction. This might be a face-to-face intro at the morning meeting or an email announcement – whatever makes sense for your company.

7. Select a mentor

Mentorships are valuable tools for the first day and beyond. Assign your new hire a mentor who can help them learn more about the company, get a feel for the culture, introduce them to other employees, and feel confident in their new role. Speak with the mentor beforehand so they can feel prepared to lead your new employee. If possible, have the mentor reach out to introduce themselves to the employee before they start.

More Tips for Hiring & Onboarding Success in Tennessee

Preparing for your new hire’s first day can make the onboarding process more seamless. To complement your Tennessee employee onboarding, make sure you include these steps in the first-day experience.

Take an Office Tour

If you are hiring on-site workers, help them feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Conducting an office tour lets them experience your company's different areas. It also allows them to meet other employees they might not otherwise get to interact with. 

Even if you’re hiring a virtual worker, you can still give them the full office tour! This is a great way for them to get a feel for your company, even if they won’t be on-site every day. Let them meet their teammates and show them around the office so they can feel like part of the team.

Host a New Hire Luncheon

Stepping outside the company walls can take a lot of pressure off your new hires. You’ve just overwhelmed them with paperwork, policies, and processes, which doesn’t leave much time for conversation. Taking them to lunch (in-person or over Zoom) is a great way to get to know them personally. Invite the CEO and other higher-ups to make your new hire feel welcome.

Follow Up with Your New Hire

Once the workday is over, your new hire has hopefully gone home full of excitement for the next day. Consider giving them a quick call or end-of-day meeting to check in about their first day. See if they have any questions or concerns that weren’t addressed during the workday.

How GoCo Supports Tennessee Employee Onboarding

Tennessee businesses can gain more confidence in hiring and onboarding compliance with an HRIS that takes out much of the guesswork. GoCo supports state-specific hiring by staying in tune with current and evolving regulations for paperwork, reporting, and other legal implications. 

Our purpose-built HR automation tools give you a single source for employment forms, checklists, and requirements for employment eligibility and federal and state tax withholdings. You can automate state and federal tax withholdings and avoid the potential for missed deadlines and penalties. Create your own policies and paperwork with Magic Docs and track who has viewed and signed them. 

GoCo allows you to automate your new hire paperwork with workflows aligning with state-specific requirements. Even if you’re based in a different state and hiring employees in Tennessee, GoCo puts the right documents in your hands at the right times. 

As state and federal regulations change, you can stay worry-free because GoCo automatically updates forms and functions to keep you compliant at all times. Learn more about GoCo’s intelligent onboarding and how to achieve compliance from day one.

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