New Hire Checklist: The Complete Guide

8 minute read

Posted by Chris Platts on 19 August 2020

Effective onboarding requires structured performance of a range of tasks. A new hire checklist is useful for ensuring that all new recruits undergo a consistent and first-class onboarding process. 

According to research, 20% of new hires quit within the first 45 days of employment, making candidate selection and new hire onboarding an issue for any recruiter.

To learn more about the importance of onboarding, BambooHR surveyed over 1,000 U.S. adults, comparing those who received effective onboarding to those who didn’t. The differences are striking. Employees who experienced effective onboarding were:

  • 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization
  • 30% more likely to feel strongly integrated into their workplace culture
  • 30 times more likely to have high job satisfaction

Also, organisations with effective onboarding had:

  • 38% more employees who were confident in their ability to do their job
  • 69% more employees who rated their organization as a strong performer
  • 33% more employees who felt engaged

We’ve compiled the ultimate new hire checklist for every stage of the onboarding process so you get the most out of your new hires.

Why do you need a new hire checklist?

An effective onboarding process reduces new hire attrition and shortens ramp-up time. Having a new hire checklist creates consistency, which helps with the following:

Employee turnover

Forbes estimate that it costs between $3,000 and $18,000 to replace an employee, however, the real cost is usually much more than that. You can use our cost of failed hires calculator to work out yours.

Vacant positions mean your business operates below maximum capacity, projects slow down, and customer relationships suffer. Ineffective onboarding can disrupt day-to-day operations; interruptions, missing information and distractions will affect a team’s productivity.

Speed to productivity (AKA ramp-up time)

On average, new employees take 8-12 months to reach full productivity compared to tenured workers. If you want people to perform well, you must get them off to a good start: in the UK and the US, $37 billion a year is wasted on unproductive employees.

Employer brand

Nothing can harm your employer brand quicker than a disgruntled ex-employee. Online review sites, like Glassdoor, allow bad onboarding experiences to easily spread to future employees. On the flipside, great employee and candidate experiences will also be shared and written about.

Manager satisfaction

Managers prefer to follow a structured onboarding process. A new hire checklist gives them this. According to research, manager satisfaction increases by 20% when employees have a formal onboarding process.

The complete new hire checklist

Before day one

Implement an effective preboarding checklist for your new hires to lay the groundwork for a great first day. For a more exhaustive guide to preboarding, read our step-by-step guide

Many of the tedious necessities of onboarding can be done before they start, so your new employee won’t have a first day that’s all paperwork! The list below is full of tips that will make that all-important first day as smooth as possible.

1. Order equipment

Save precious time by making sure all the tools and equipment your new staff will need are ready waiting for them. For example; office equipment, uniforms, laptops, anything that needs to be ordered should be done well in advance of their first day.

2. Set up logins

Setups, installations and new account setups often take longer than you imagine. Install the programmes they’ll need on their work laptop, or set up their work email and give them instructions to do it themselves. You’ll have enough on your plate explaining how to use all the new materials; don’t waste time watching a loading bar crawl across the screen!

3. Minimise paperwork

Nowadays, most of the necessary paperwork can be emailed or filled out online. Send your new hire their contract, health and safety information and other documentation in advance. In return, get them to send you their details, P45, national insurance number, or whatever information you need to get them ready to start when they walk through the door.

4. Employer handbook

First-day nerves seem to be a fact of life, but you can help mitigate this by giving your new employees all the information they could need before they start. Simple things like directions to the workplace, dress code information, and the contact details of their manager.

First day

You only get one chance to make a first impression; these steps will make sure it’s a good one.

1. A warm welcome

You can employ plenty of free and easy touches to welcome your new employee to the team. Perhaps their manager could meet them at the door and show them to their desk. Maybe you can put their welcome letter, handbook, and office equipment on their desk, ready for their arrival. Tying some balloons to their desk or office chair is a cost-effective way of making their first day memorable.

2. Meet the team

Your colleagues, team leader and your manager will make up much of an employee’s work life. Ensure these introductions are made on day one (if not before) so your new hire knows where to turn for help. This will not only help integrate your new team members but also have current employees there to help them on the first day, which will stop them from relying on trial and error and make them more productive.

3. Meet the culture

Invest time in getting your new hires familiar with their new workplace. As well as the obligatory office tour, you should also familiarise them with your company mission and ethos. Knowing a company’s history and future direction is a great way for your new hire to identify with the company early on and give them a sense of purpose in their work. Remember, your new hire chose your company for a reason, it’s likely they already think highly of your company, draw on that to foster loyalty among your new staff.

4. Set expectations

You don’t want to patronise your employees; they know they’re here to work. So, you should set goals and expectations early on. If goals are clear, your new hire can feel secure knowing that they’re performing as they’re expected to, whilst also encouraging them to exceed expectations from the first day. You can also tell them what responsibilities or projects they will have moving forward.

First week

Week one is an opportunity to keep up the momentum and push your new employee to increase their performance with stimulating tasks, constructive feedback and a workplace they can feel like an active part of.

1. Encourage contact

A feeling of camaraderie with your teammates is a great incentive to stick around. A social event in the first week can help cement early relationships into friendships. Research suggests that 70% of employees say having a friend at work is the most important factor in job satisfaction. If you’re working remotely, having daily virtual coffees over video conferencing over week one can help people feel like they are part of a distributed team.

2. Request feedback

At the end of week one, ask your new employees for feedback. You can use this information to tailor and update your recruitment process in the future. Not only that, but asking for feedback in the first week shows that you genuinely care about their input into the team culture.

3. Create a training plan

Training is one of the most appealing opportunities for new employees. It makes your employee value proposition stand out as it shows that you’re an employer willing to spend time and resources on their employees.

First month

Hopefully, if you’ve followed the new hire checklist, your “new” employee will feel like part of the family after a month, but that doesn’t mean the onboarding process is finished. There are still several ways you can get the most from your employees, even after they’ve settled in.

1. Hold a review

The end of the first month is the perfect time for a formal evaluation. If the first month is probationary, use this time to welcome your new hire formally to the team! A performance review doesn’t need to be stressful; it’s a great chance to reflect on the employee experience so far and see how they are integrating with the team.

2. Give credit where it’s due

If they’re still here after a month, your new employee has hopefully done a good job. So tell them! Most people choose a job that they think they will be good at. It creates a virtuous circle which gets reinforced with positive feedback. If it’s a formal passing of a probationary period, then make sure you celebrate it publically or privately with your new hire, depending on their preference.

3. Offer increased responsibility

Trusting people with more responsibility is a great way to motivate and retain new hires. After a month in situ, you could reward your new hire with new responsibilities; perhaps they could be in charge of welcoming your next new employee.

The first month should be about helping your new hire settle in. Your job after that is to keep them incentivised and challenged to keep their productivity and job fulfilment high.

That’s all folks

Onboarding is a long process. It starts before your new employee joins and extends well after their first month.

It’s your job to keep challenging and rewarding your employees to keep them engaged at work. Doing this effectively is a tough skill, but a strong new hire checklist is a good place to start.


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