Creating a seamless onboarding experience: Your comprehensive checklist
Of the new employees hired in 2023, a staggering 81% reported feeling overwhelmed during onboarding. In addition, 42% said it was difficult to find the information they needed because it was too scattered across different platforms (1). This is a major concern for retention and engagement because team members that receive great onboarding are 2.6 times more likely to indicate high levels of satisfaction with their organizations (2).
This prompts the question: What are companies missing in their onboarding processes? One part of the answer is simple — organizations that want to deliver high-quality onboarding need to utilize a thorough onboarding checklist. A thoughtfully planned, input-driven new hire checklist minimizes confusion, prevents key information from getting lost, and helps set new team members up for success. Furthermore, it shows recent joiners that you care about them, feel their integration is a priority, and consider them an important part of the team right off the bat.
To help you navigate the process of improving the new hire experience, this article discusses what an onboarding checklist is and what it should ideally contain. We also provide you with a downloadable sample checklist to get you started creating your own onboarding assets.
🛣️ A great beginning to the new hire journey
Use our downloadable checklist to make the onboarding process straightforward and stress-free.
👉 Download the checklist
What is an employee onboarding checklist?
An employee onboarding checklist is a document that outlines the clear steps that organizations should take when introducing a new team member to their workplace, in order to prepare them for their role. It’s ideal for companies that want to clarify their onboarding process flow, which is the set of tasks that recent hires complete during their first few months in a new position.
Employee onboarding checklists are essential because they prevent new hires from feeling overwhelmed, and organizations should ensure that they store and maintain them somewhere that’s easily accessible and preferably digital. That way, human resources teams, managers, and new employees can refer back to them and check off the tasks they complete as they go.
A comprehensive new hire checklist should cover every step of the onboarding process, including:
- Pre-onboarding preparation
- Orientation and paperwork
- Software, apps, and tech setup
- Role expectations
- Company culture and values
- Engagement and empowerment
- Introductions and guidance for teammate relationships and networking with cross-functional colleagues
- Job-specific onboarding, learning and development, and training
Why is a new hire checklist important?
“I’m a huge fan of onboarding checklists, and they’ve done a lot to make the onboarding process more efficient, effective, and engaging. One thing I love about using them is that they help me keep track of what’s been covered in previous [training] sessions, so I can make sure to touch on everything again. For example, if we covered how to schedule meetings before lunchtime, but then I don’t see them scheduling those meetings afterward, we’ll go over the process again in our next session.
This helps me ensure that employees are getting all the information they need from me and from their coworkers, which makes their transition into their roles easier and less stressful.”
— Gauri Manglik, CEO and Founder at Instrumentl
Think about the way your company treats new customers or clients. Your goal is to quickly establish a trusting relationship with them and help them feel connected with your organization’s mission, vision, and products. You also want to provide them with a seamless transition and enjoyable first experience with your solution or service. You’ve likely prepared an internal checklist with those objectives in mind to simplify this experience for your sales and customer success teams.
New team members deserve the same intentional, streamlined experience as new customers because they — as employees — are your most valuable resource.
If that’s not enough of a reason to create a detailed onboarding checklist, consider the impact poor onboarding has on retention. In-depth research into employee onboarding found that 20% of new hires leave their companies in the first 45 days of employment. That means organizations are wasting time and resources in hiring people who don’t stay. Plus, having new team members leave is likely disruptive to their colleagues’ workflows and adds to workloads. There’s also the financial toll of inadequate onboarding to keep in mind. By some estimates, losing an employee can cost employers up to 200% of their annual salary.
Everything an onboarding checklist should include
As remote and hybrid work becomes the standard, businesses need to make their onboarding processes repeatable and well-organized to avoid new employees feeling confused and left to navigate your tech stack and processes without a blueprint. Let’s explore how you can make your new team member checklist a resource that everyone in your organization can benefit from.
1. An initial welcome before day one
Start building a relationship with your new hire before they start orientation to demonstrate how organized your company is and how much you already value them as a team member. In a welcome email, let the new employee know that you’re ready to answer any questions they may have and prompt them to complete the essential paperwork and tasks you can’t leave for the first day, like signing a contract or setting up a company email address. Copy in the new team member’s manager, assigned mentor, and any other stakeholders they’re likely to contact during their first weeks so they can reply and send them a short welcome message as well.
Most crucially, send the new hire a schedule for their first day of onboarding and make sure they know:
- When they need to report for work
- Where they need to go, whether in-person or online
- What documents they should bring or prepare, such as tax forms or certificates
- Who they’re going to meet on the first day
2. Internal preparations
Consult with your people team, the new team member’s direct manager, their mentor, and your IT department to make sure you have everything you need ready for their first day. Create task lists for each department so your new hire won’t be left to their own devices — they shouldn’t have to waste time and energy tracking people down for usernames, passwords, essential links, or other basic information.
Before onboarding, it’s up to you and other stakeholders to:
- Ensure the new team member has signed their employment contract.
- Preemptively set up 1:1 manager meetings in your new hire’s calendar for the first month.
- Create a guide for the new employee to set up accounts for Google, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other relevant applications.
3. Tasks for the first day of onboarding
There are a lot of practical things to accomplish on the first day of onboarding, so it’s important to keep virtual and in-person meetings to a minimum. You don’t want your recent joiner to feel as though you’re trying to cram everything into their first few hours.
The goal for a new hire’s first day of onboarding should be to orient them in terms of your values, mission, and way of working. By the end, they should also know what learning and training tasks they need to complete before the onboarding period is over and who they can contact or what resources they can reference if they get stuck.
That’s why, among other key tasks on your checklist, you should:
- Verify they have all the necessary accounts and software set up
- Introduce your company’s onboarding course and explain how they can begin working through the tasks and activities
- Ensure they know where to find key information about your organization, like your org chart, core values, and objectives and key results (OKRs)
4. Introductions in-person & via Slack
If your organization operates remotely, this element is even more important. After all, remote work can increase loneliness by 67%, especially if you don’t take the time to help new team members build connections with their coworkers.
If you’re not sure how to make introductions that foster genuine relationships, consider these best practices:
- Share the new employee’s name, role, and professional background.
- Talk about why you hired them, touching on the values they demonstrated and the projects they’ve worked on.
- Explain what responsibilities and initiatives they’ll be focusing on after onboarding.
- Tag relevant team members or cross-functional colleagues in your internal chat so they’ll be prompted to respond and introduce themselves.
🔎 Don’t forget to make formal introductions between new hires and their peer mentors so they can get to know each other. As someone who’s gone through the onboarding process, a peer or buddy can answer questions, provide a unique perspective on the company culture, and fill in any current gaps your onboarding checklist may have.
5. Weekly manager check-ins
Managers serve an indispensable function during the onboarding process by answering questions, helping reports overcome doubts, and eventually, assisting new team members in creating a set of personal development goals to focus on moving forward. As employees ramp up in their new roles and begin executing tasks and projects on their own, team leaders also closely monitor their performance so they can give them timely, pertinent feedback.
That’s why you should build weekly check-in meetings into your onboarding checklist, with tasks such as:
- Leading an in-depth walkthrough of the new hire’s roles and responsibilities, especially at the end of their first month.
- Creating a set of simple objectives during onboarding so the new team member learns the company’s process for goal-setting.
- Reviewing the organization’s competency frameworks with new direct reports and discussing development opportunities.
- Conducting the new hire’s first performance review at the end of the first three months.
Your downloadable employee onboarding checklist
✅ Check “make onboarding a great experience” off your list
Make our new hire checklist your number-one resource for creating an onboarding process that everyone appreciates.
👉 Download the checklist
How to use Leapsome’s new hire onboarding checklist
We’ve made our downloadable new hire checklist as comprehensive as possible, but you’ll still need to determine a few things so it can effectively serve your internal teams and new hires. To make it work for you, you should:
- Tailor it to specific roles and for employees with different backgrounds — For example, you may want to create a specific learning path for managers that covers skills like coaching, exchanging feedback, making data-driven decisions, and conducting performance reviews.
- Set timelines and deadlines — Individual onboarding items should be carefully spaced out by the HR team to avoid new hire overwhelm, and clear deadlines help provide a more organized onboarding that doesn’t create unnecessary stress for individual people ops professionals — and lets them know when to check back in with employees during the process.
- Assign ownership — Determine who will complete each task and who’s monitoring progress. At the end of each onboarding phase, human resources or people ops team members should check in with task owners to make sure they’ve accomplished everything.
- Continuously evaluate onboarding experience — After 90 days have passed, prompt your new team member, managers, and stakeholders to complete an onboarding survey so you can learn from their feedback. You should also review training completion rates, engagement metrics, retention rates, performance scores, and goal progress after the first six months of implementing your onboarding checklist. This enables you to assess whether your new process has made a positive impact on the employee experience.
🛤️ Keep everyone on the right track
Our onboarding checklist helps you tailor the new hire experience for various roles and stakeholders.
👉 Download the checklist
Develop a seamless onboarding process with Leapsome
Since many companies are currently failing to provide a great onboarding experience, it’s a clear opportunity for your organization to stand out. That’s an exciting prospect when you realize that improving onboarding can be as simple as creating and following a detailed new hire checklist.
Onboarding is even easier when you use software like Leapsome to streamline internal collaboration, facilitate new hire training, and track results. Our integrated modules for conducting regular meetings and setting goals help stakeholders work together to design impactful new hire checklists. Then, you can use our learning platform and performance review modules to ensure that recent joiners stay on track with onboarding and seamlessly adapt to their roles.
Ultimately, adding Leapsome to your tech stack won’t just help you improve the new hire experience — it’ll also enable you to retain top talent through a better employee experience.
👣 Start new employees off on the right foot
Leapsome’s integrated platform helps you design a smooth, engaging onboarding process and leverage data to make it better as you grow.
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