The Essential Components of an Onboarding Checklist

Creating a new employee onboarding checklist? This article details what goes into a new hire onboarding checklist from day one and beyond.


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The onboarding process isn’t just about paperwork and forms. it welcomes the new employees into the fold, immersing them in connections and culture. The result can mean getting past the initial ‘hump’ that often leads to high employee turnover.

Onboarding checklists help streamline the process, while ensuring each critical stage, phase and task is completed. Think of a new hire’s onboarding into the company as a rocket launch. You wouldn’t complete the launch without a good, vetted checklist.

Checklists essentially document a strategic plan, and the steps required to execute that plan. They provide a starting point for processes and procedures specific to the job and business needs. In a competitive talent market, checklists assure onboarding remains relevant, protecting the investment made to find and recruit talent.

What to Include in an Onboarding Checklist

Before you create a checklist for onboarding, it’s important to consider the stages and tasks you’ll need to include. This could contain a template for ramping up an employee over a long period to collecting necessary forms.

There are existing new hire onboarding templates you can download. But to make it your own, jot down all the small and big tasks required to fully integrate a new employee into your culture. Some factors to consider is type of workforce you employ, where the work is performed, and your industry.

Here are 5 examples of components to include in an onboarding checklist.


The Manager’s Checklist

Even before a new hire’s start date, a manager’s checklist reminds team leaders to complete required contracts or forms. This could include non-disclosure agreements, job descriptions, copies of certifications, etc. Reminders prompt the newest team member to bring employment verification or other paperwork, like licenses, in on day one. This will save you, and that new employee, time and frustration later.


The Compliance Checklist

Keeping all the necessary forms organized starts with a compliance checklist. I-9 Employee Verification, tax and withholding forms, employee classifications, pay period schedules, ACA and EEOC reporting forms will all be necessary. This aspect of the onboarding checklist reminds you to get these out of the way, while avoiding missing a costly step.  


The New Hire Welcome Email

A new hire welcome email announcing the news to a team helps bring talent quickly into the fold. Send a message to the team by email or text with the specifics about the new hire, their start date and position. A reminder can even let the team know a scheduled lunch to welcome their newest coworker has been added to their calendars.


The 30/60/90 Day Ramp Plan

Onboarding is an ongoing process. Even after the employee completes their initial training, keeping a close eye on them can drive integration to the team and culture, and a faster route to productivity.

Follow through is critical. You’ll want a long range plan, like a 30/60/90 day ramp plan. Start with the important connections the new hire must make in their first weeks and months. Begin with their immediate trainers and team members, but expand to ‘survival’ resources, like HR, Benefits Administration and Payroll. The checklist helps plan for and verify connections have been made.

Beyond these, other departments that overlap, even infrequently, with the new hire or their team are important connections. A view of the organizational chart provides employees a sense of place within the company. In today’s growth-oriented applicant market, a career path is an essential selling point when making a new hire.

You’ll want to track initial assignments and milestones. What processes should the new hire have mastered; and by when. Goals and projects on a checklist let managers quantify whether or not the employee’s development is on track with expectations. As you measure goals and expectations against the checklist, you’ll know training is on track and learners are getting the resources they need to succeed.

When the new hire reaches autonomy, you’re job hasn’t ended. A checklist reminds managers to continue creating meetings and touch points with the staff member to outline new goals and develop richer connections. Does your company encourage professional development? Set reminders to follow-up with new hires on their progress. If utilization of LMS modules is a priority: plan meetings to discuss possible career trajectories and the ways to get there.


The Employee Lifecycle Checklist

Onboarding is a process, not a project. You’ll want to follow through the program until you’re confident the new hire is fully assimilated into the organization, is as independently productive as possible, and is fully committed to the job. An employee lifecycle checklist guides you through every step.

Beginning with recruitment and initial hire, through pre-onboarding and ramp up, reminders assure every step has been taken. Team leaders and/or HR can track when the newest member is ready for growth in their role or a transition to a new role. Create actions and tasks to assign and achieve, including a manager’s role, HR’s contribution and details about knowledge and proficiency they must have to take the next step.

The last step in onboarding is the conversion from onboarding to offboarding to alumni. Checklists help recap the entire process, assuring every step has been taken and every opportunity for incorporation and growth has been done.

Measuring the ROI of Onboarding

How can businesses measure the success of an onboarding program? A checklist is invaluable here. They verify goals met, connections made, contributions and commitment. Checklists remind managers  to look for progress: not just in the initial work, but contributions to the organization overall as well as individual professional development.

Completed onboarding checklists give business the opportunity to analyze their processes. For one new hire or dozens, comparisons can be made so business can learn, adjust and hone their onboarding checklist to better meet the needs of new hires and the company. This quantifiable data can be invaluable in developing a rich, successful onboarding process that turns new hire into long-term employees.

Checklists manage your onboarding program efficiently and effectively. Whether team leaders are guiding the newest employee, HR is managing the process or a combination of both. They keep everyone on track, on task and in the loop. The results: an onboarding process that turns a new hire into a valued team member as quickly and professionally as possible.


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