Checklist for Making Sure Your New Hires Succeed on Day 1

Here are some tips and tricks to ensure you set your new employees up for success from the get-go.

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Checklist For Making Sure Your Employees Succeed on Day 1

Here's what you need to know:

  • Onboarding and orientation are different, but both are equally important
  • An automated onboarding workflow helps to streamline the process
  • Self-serve onboarding, via HR platforms, allows employees to enter and retrieve their own information

When an employee shows up on their first day, they should feel confident in their ability to do the job, regardless of whether they are working remotely or onsite. You likely hired them because you believe they are qualified. But a confident job candidate isn’t necessarily a confident new hire. Several things that can hinder a new hire’s confidence on their first day, such as not having the tools they need to succeed.

When new hires lack confidence, they are likely to quit out of frustration. Keep in mind that when an employee quits, it can cost 6 to 9 months of their annual salary to replace them.

If new hires lack confidence, they will likely quit out of frustration.

So, how do you ensure that new hires are set to go on their first day? The solution lies in effective onboarding and orientation practices. Before we get into these practices, it’s important to distinguish between onboarding and orientation.

Onboarding vs. orientation

These two are often confused as being one and the same, but they are different.

Onboarding is about integrating the new hire into the company and its culture and giving them the tools they need to become a productive team member. Orientation is about introducing the new hire to their role and coworkers, plus providing them with essential information about the company — such as policies, procedures, benefits, and work rules.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), “While orientation is necessary for completing paperwork and other routine tasks, onboarding is a comprehensive process involving management and other employees and can last up to 12 months.”

Both orientation and onboarding are vital to the success of your new hires.

Whereas orientation focuses on familiarizing the new hire with the company’s mission and culture — onboarding is a series of events aimed at making the new hire an asset to the company. Onboarding is more strategic and wide-ranging than orientation. However, both are vital to new hire success.

To set up your new hires for success from Day 1, we recommend implementing an onboarding system that includes orientation. Next is a checklist for accomplishing this.

Consider and answer key questions

Prior to implementing an onboarding system, it’s important to answer the following questions:

  • What should new hires know about your company and their working conditions?
  • When will onboarding begin?
  • How long will onboarding last?
  • What expectations and goals do you have for new hires?
  • Who will be involved in the onboarding process?
  • What information should new hires receive on their first day?

Responses may differ based on the employee’s role.

Create a secure, automated onboarding flow

Employee onboarding is an area that can be easily automated — resulting in a streamlined experience for both your new hires and people teams. With an automated system at your fingertips, you can build a repeatable onboarding flow for each of your worker types. This is essentially a flow chart of steps that each new employee must complete.

HR platforms can help make your onboarding process consistent and well-paced.

You can find an HR platform that will walk employees through the necessary steps, one by one — making your onboarding process consistent, well-paced, and entirely out the hair of your HR administrators.

Onboarding flows vary by company, but almost all enable employees to do the following:

  • Complete new hire paperwork, including tax forms, direct deposit, and benefits forms
  • Provide personal details for digital employee records
  • Sign employee documents with e-signatures
  • Familiarize themselves with various aspects of the business
  • Receive documentation, including employee handbook

As an employer, you have a legal duty to protect the personal information and data of your employees. You also have a significant financial and reputational incentive to take reasonable steps to maintain the privacy and security of the information. Make sure you choose an onboarding platform that’s built to protect employee data.

Empower employees through self-serve onboarding

A modern HR platform (such as Zenefits or Gusto) allows your new hires to access a self-service portal and input their HR-related information themselves. They can do this from an HR app, directly from their computer or mobile phone. This eliminates any need for emails and paperwork and brings the new hire up to speed faster. The employee can also retrieve documents digitally (including the employee handbook), whenever they need them.

Use a modern HR platform to take the hassle out of setting up new hires and managing their documents.

Not having to rely on HR for everything helps to instill new hires with a sense of autonomy and empowerment — which in turn fuels their overall confidence at work. 

What to look for in self-serve onboarding technology:

  • Integration with other systems — such as background check technology that simplifies the hiring process, productivity tools like Slack or Google’s G-Suite, and a learning management system that facilitates new hire training.
  • Updates to employee data (like change of address, title, etc.) are automatically reflected everywhere in the system.
  • Configurable templates, to make developing your own documents a breeze.
  • Event-triggered custom emails for manager nudges, employee engagement, and a smoother ramp to employee success.

Welcome and acclimate new hires to your company

  • Introduce them to their coworkers.
  • Give them a tour of the facility.
  • Make sure their workstation is ready.
  • Deliver the appropriate equipment and supplies.
  • Provide an overview of the company’s mission, values, policies, and procedures.
  • Explain your expectations, and goals the employee needs to meet.
  • Ensure new hires have all the resources they need.

Don’t forget your welcome letter

A great way to welcome new hires is to automatically send them a welcome letter on their first day. This is one of many key opportunities to reconfirm to your new employee that you’re committed to their success.

To streamline this step, you can use a digital template with editable and non-editable text fields. You may include information on work hours, location, and maybe even a seating chart and parking or commuter options. This letter can also include attachments for the new hire to request work tools and resources as well as keycard access to the building.

Keep your onboarding game strong with triggered custom emails

Ensuring employee success is an ongoing endeavor that should extend beyond week one. You can help managers keep a pulse on their new hires by utilizing HR software that produces automated nudges based on milestone triggers.

Onboarding isn’t just about week 1 — it should extend well beyond your new hire’s first week.

For example:

  • A week before start date: Remember to send your new hire a welcome gift the week before their start date.
  • First day: Remember to invite your new hire to a welcome lunch (or virtual lunch).
  • Day 7: Reminder! Set up weekly 1:1 meetings with your new hire.
  • Two-week reminder: Send a new hire survey to your new employee.
  • Day 90: Reminder! Collect 90-day performance reviews.

You can automate this — at scale — with custom emails and triggering events set up in your HR system. Best-in-class companies automate all of the above in a single workflow via a single People Operations platform.

Monitor your onboarding success

When done right, onboarding can result in higher job satisfaction, organizational loyalty, reduced turnover, greater performance levels, and lower employee stress. So, it’s important to monitor your onboarding process to determine the level of success and areas of improvement.

Generally, the following 4 elements are essential to maximizing new hire onboarding success:

  1. Self-confidence. Whether the employee will be productive depends on how confident they feel about doing the job. Providing mentoring and training can help boost their confidence.
  2. Role clarity. The employee’s performance and job satisfaction are likely to suffer if your expectations for the role are unclear.
  3. Social integration. New hires need to feel comfortable with their managers and coworkers. Encouraging healthy workplace communications, providing collaboration tools, and arranging social interactions (like lunches) can increase onboarding success.
  4. Organizational fit. It’s essential that the new hire understands and adheres to the company’s goals, values, norms, and culture. If not, turnover is likely.

To start preparing your new hires for success from Day 1, see Zenefits’ People Operations Checklist for New Hire Onboarding.

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