Orientation Checklist

New Employee Checklist for Onboarding

You might think in today’s digital world the humble “to-do” list is a thing of the past, but you’d be wrong! They’re still a great way to make sure you’re not forgetting anything related to a particular task, topic or program. To that end, this article is an extensive new employee checklist you can use when planning or overhauling your new hire orientation and training programs for pre-boarding and the all-important first day of work.

Pre-Boarding New Employee Checklist

Excellent onboarding begins before a new hire’s first day. Shocking, right? But there’s a good reason for it. When you reach the end of a hiring process and make a job offer and it’s accepted, there’s going to be some amount of time before the first day of work. The most typical amount of time is two weeks, but it’s often more and sometimes might be less. Whatever it ends up being at your company, if you “go dark” during that time and give your new hires the silent treatment, it’s not good! They start to question whether or not they really do have the job, which in turn makes them start feeling really nervous as their first day approaches. This is where pre-boarding can really help – it lets the employee know what’s coming and gives them lots of information and things they can do before their first day. And here’s the amazing thing: Companies that do pre-boarding retain 81% of their first-year hires! That’s according to research conducted by the Aberdeen Group. With that in mind, here’s your pre-boarding new employee checklist:

  • Email: Send an upbeat welcome email message that lays out all the things they can do before their first day and all the things you’re doing to get ready as well.
  • Employee Handbook: Give them an electronic copy of the company’s employee handbook so they can read it at their leisure and flag things they have questions about.
  • Paperwork: Whatever paperwork you have that can be accomplished electronically should be sent so there aren’t mountains of paperwork to plow through when they start.
  • Buddy: Find someone who can be their “buddy” for the first several weeks to show them how things work, answer questions, etc. Give them contact information for the buddy, and have the buddy send a welcome email as well so they have contact before starting.
  • Workspace: Put in your IT requests for the new hire’s workstation equipment to be set up as early as needed to ensure it’s ready on their first day. Make sure they have everything else they need in terms of supplies and so forth to get started.
  • Email account: Have IT set up the company email account for the new hire with a generic password they can change so they can see how the email system works.
  • Team announcement: Send an email to the new hire’s team/department welcoming the new employee and announcing their start date, and so on – and cc the new hire!
  • Contacts: Populate the new hire’s contact list with everyone on their team, helpful HR and IT contacts, etc.
  • Calendar: Same thing with the calendar – populate it with all recurring meetings/events.
  • Org chart: Send an electronic copy of the company’s organizational chart so they can see the big picture of all the moving parts.
  • Directory: Make sure the new hire knows where to find and can access the company directory with everyone’s contact information (phone extensions and email addresses).
  • HR meeting: Schedule a time for the new hire to sit down with HR to ask questions, fill out any remaining paperwork, receive insurance and benefits information and so on. But don’t have this happen on their first day because it kills the excited vibe you want to create on the first day. Have it happen on the second day.
  • First-day plan: Plan out the employee’s first day and make sure everyone who needs to be involved in it knows what’s happening and when.

If you take the time to accomplish the items on this pre-boarding new employee checklist, your new hire will come for their first day excited and ready to learn more about their job and their employer!

Day One: Memorable and Enjoyable, Not Overwhelming

When it’s time for the new hire to walk through the company doors for their first day of work, there’s a lot at stake. This is when you want to make the right first impression in person. The new hire is probably going to be nervous, so the idea on the first day is to keep everything relaxed and relatively informal. You’re not going to ask them to jump right into work since they’re not ready. You’re not going to parade them around the office and introduce them to more people than they’ll ever be able to remember. You’re not going to make them sign mountains of paperwork or make them sit through mind-numbingly boring company presentations. Please avoid all of that!

Here’s a first-day new employee checklist that will leave your new hire thoroughly excited to come back to work the next day:

  • Workstation: Come in early and decorate the new hire’s workstation with a welcome message and some company swag items. They’ll love it and immediately feel like their presence is appreciated. Include a hard copy of the employee handbook, an agenda for the day, and their nameplate and/or company ID, and business cards.
  • Greeting: Make sure you’ve figured out who is going to warmly greet the new hire when they arrive and bring them to their workstation.
  • Company announcement: Send a company-wide email announcing and welcoming your newest team member and say a few words about them.
  • Team gathering: Have an informal gathering with the new hire’s core team/department members with coffee and donuts. This is a time to just introduce the new hire to their team and have some informal interactions to get to know each other.
  • Company focus: The rest of the morning of their first day is the time to get into the details of the company’s big picture – vision, mission, priorities, organizational structure, etc. so the new hire can see where they fit into the larger scheme of things. Also, go over the most critical company policies.
  • Working lunch: Have a working lunch with the team that mimic’s a more typical team meeting. Include the new hire as possible but without pressure – they’re attending more as an observer so they can see how team members related to each other, what the current priorities are, people’s various projects and so forth.
  • Post-lunch one-on-one: After lunch is when the new hire can spend a couple of hours with their direct supervisor/manager. This is when they find out more about the specific details of what will make up their day-to-day work. This is about being clear around roles, responsibilities, and expectations.
  • Facility tour: Take a mid-afternoon break where the employee can be taken on a full tour of the company’s physical offices so they can get a feel for what and who is located where.
  • Wrap-up: Towards the end of the day, have another sit-down with the new hire to see what questions have come up for them throughout the day. These could be questions they have about what they observed at the working lunch, or they might have questions about other aspects of their work, company policies, and so on. If some of their questions need to be answered by human resources or other departments, get those meetings scheduled for them as quickly as possible over the next day or two.

The first day of work outlined above is a better way to get a new hire started than what typically happens at other employers. They won’t feel overwhelmed with too many details, they won’t be bored or feel neglected, and they’ll leave feeling like they can’t wait to come back the next day!

And when they do come back for day two, that’s when you can start the next phase of onboarding, which is focused on the job-specific training needed to get the new hire up-to-speed and ready to start making contributions to the team and the company. This becomes an iterative process of setting clear performance goals, training and regular performance feedback throughout their entire first year of employment. But it all begins with good pre-boarding and a great first day, so use the new employee checklist to make it happen.

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