6 Essential Elements of an Employee Onboarding Checklist
Providing new employees with a great onboarding experience is a key first step to engaging your talent long-term and improving employee retention. For HR and learning & development (L&D) leaders, there are many considerations to account for when developing a formal onboarding process. The scope of this initiative is growing as work evolves.
With such an important undertaking, you’ll want to make sure you’re checking every box. An employee onboarding checklist helps you develop a repeatable process that can be scaled across your organization.
Click below to download a free employee onboarding checklist, or keep reading to learn why it’s valuable and how each essential element plays a role.
Why should organizations have an employee onboarding checklist?
Developing a documented employee onboarding checklist helps provide consistency throughout the onboarding process. It ensures that all new employees receive the same essential information and training. This consistency creates a level playing field for new hires and prevents critical aspects of onboarding from being overlooked.
An organized checklist also streamlines the onboarding process, making it more efficient for both the HR team and the new employee. By reducing time and effort spent on organizing activities, employees can become productive faster, benefiting the company as a whole.
60% of organizations report that effective onboarding reduced time to productivity among new hires. (Leveraging Learning to Onboard Top Talent)
Finally, a documented employee onboarding checklist ensures compliance with legal and regulatory requirements associated with onboarding. From completing essential documentation to providing necessary safety training, a structured checklist minimizes legal risks and keeps the company in good standing. At the same time, it sets clear expectations for new employees, alleviating anxiety and uncertainty during the onboarding period. This positive first impression fosters a sense of belonging and contributes to increased employee engagement and retention.
Your role in establishing and refining these onboarding processes is critical to the company's success and the growth of its employees. An employee onboarding checklist that serves as a central source of truth will be one of your best assets in this regard.
How employee onboarding checklists support professional development
Using an employee onboarding checklist sets the stage for successful professional development, providing a structured learning path, enhancing skills, and setting clear performance expectations.
By accounting for specific skill development and career growth focuses in your checklist, you can offer individualized support through mentorship programs and encourage continuous learning, fostering a culture of growth.
This checklist enhances employee satisfaction, retention, and succession planning, ensuring a pipeline of capable leaders for the future. It also serves as a refresher for existing employees taking on new roles. HR leaders benefit from investing in a comprehensive onboarding checklist, empowering employees with the tools for success and contributing to overall organizational growth.
Elements to include on an employee onboarding checklist
As advisor and executive coach Don Phin explained in the LinkedIn Learning course Understanding HR Systems Features and Benefits, there are many components worth accounting for in your employee onboarding plan. Naturally, the specifics will vary based on the business and industry.
Still, there are some general items that most organizations of all types should be thinking about when onboarding new employees. These cover things like acclimating to the team, learning new systems and workflows, ensuring legal compliance, and setting up employees to grow.
Include these essential elements in your employee onboarding checklist:
Introduction to the manager
A strong rapport with their direct manager is instrumental to any employee’s long-term happiness, success, and growth in your organization. Take an intentional approach from Day 1 to lay groundwork for a great partnership.
“To make sure your new colleague really hits the ground running, there's a good bit of homework to do,” said Todd Dewitt in the course Onboarding New Hires as a Manager, which covers many of the key fundamentals through this lens.
Only 35% of learners were encouraged to learn by their manager in the past six months.
(Workplace Learning Report)
Connecting with coworkers
Getting to know new people and feel comfortable within the company culture is a key challenge for new hires. Assigning a mentor or buddy from the team can provide new employees with a go-to person for questions and support. Incorporating team-based projects or activities – such as social or community-based learning – in the onboarding program encourages new hires to collaborate with their coworkers, fostering positive working relationships from the start.
Communications access and setup
Every organization has its own methods of communication and collaboration. Whether it’s training a new hire on your phone system, establishing expectations for situational behavior, or walking them through the nuances of your company’s Slack channels, make sure you establish clear, consistent protocols and policies.
Forms and paperwork
Every job has its own set of associated forms, guides, and paperwork to be reviewed or completed. These can include HR documents, W2 forms, employee handbooks, confidentiality agreements, or otherwise. Be sure to have them all comprehensively listed on your checklist so nothing gets missed.
Initial job training and skill development
At a time where companies are increasingly hiring around desirable skills as opposed to tangible role-specific experience, it’s common for new hires to come aboard with skill gaps, or needing specific training for their job activities. Naturally, it’s important to have structures in place so they can get up to speed.
• Learn more: Employee Onboarding: Addressing Skill Gaps for New Hires
Career path roadmapping
New hires are most likely to find fulfillment working with your company, and to stick around, if you help them see the vision for their future growth in the organization. In addition to ensuring that your employee onboarding checklist accounts for training on skills requisite for their current role, you can also map out individualized career paths for each new hire to create a roadmap for their own growth and advancement in your organization.