The Essential Onboarding Checklist

When hiring a new person, you want to make sure they fit into your company as easily as possible. Here's how.
August 01, 2012

Congratulations, you just signed the paperwork for your newest employee—an indication that your business is growing. Now it is time to focus your efforts on effectively onboarding this person and making them feel like a member of your workplace family. Check the following steps off your list to ensure guaranteed success.

Before The First Day

Ready the paperwork. Kelsey Meyer, co-founder of Digital Talent Agents, a brand consultancy in Columbia, Mo., compiles every piece of new information that a new hire needs into a physical binder or in Dropbox/Google Docs folders. That way it's all in one place, and easily accessible.

Order business cards. This can take time, so try ordering personalized cards as soon as possible, recommends Scott Regan, founder and CEO of AchieveIt, a software company in Atlanta. Also remember to order a corporate credit card, if applicable.

Send a welcome package. Each time a new employee is hired at AchieveIt, Regan’s wife sends cupcakes and a card to the person’s family prior to his first day. “When our chief sales officer came on board, my wife sent cupcakes to his three daughters,” Regan says. “He’s been with us for one year now and still talks about how much those cupcakes meant to him and his family.”

Not the Martha Stewart type? Simplify your welcome packet with a card and information on first-day expectations.

Set up the necessary technology. As an employee, there’s nothing more demoralizing than arriving on your first day and the company is not prepared, says Regan. He recommends setting up in advance a phone, phone tree, e-mail address, computer, building key access code and any other technological equipment.

Introduce them to their mentor. The team at Digital Talent Agents matches each new employee with a mentor in a dissimilar department. Prior to their first day, Meyer sends an e-mail introduction to the newbie and mentor with an outline of weekly meetings.

“We like to match them up with someone who can answer questions that the new hire might be too nervous to ask their direct supervisor,” she says. “Weekly meetings help acclimate them to the new environment.”

 On the First Day

  • Complete paperwork. The minute the new hire walks in the door, Meyer recommends going over the employee manual and finishing any necessary paperwork.
  • Meet with mentor. After the paperwork is finished, usher them into a conference room or out to lunch to meet with their mentor. Leave the room and let them talk amongst themselves, Meyer suggests.
  • Execute one-on-one meetings with team members. Organize 15-minute meetings with each person in the company, she adds. This works best with small companies of less than 20 people (Digital Talent Agents employs around 15 people). Instruct team members to explain what they do and how it relates to the new employee’s position. “Our new hires tell us that this is their favorite part of their first day because it gives them a basic understanding of what is going on from all parts of the company,” says Meyer.
  • Take them to lunch or coffee. Continue the meeting theme by personally taking them to a one-on-one lunch. If this is impossible on the first day, slot it in for the first week or 10 days.
  • Give them something to do. New hires are eager to contribute as soon as possible, says Regan.

“People feel horrible when they are just sitting around, not sure what to do,” he notes. “We try to get them working on something, even if it is something small, as quickly as possible.”

 After The First Day

  •  Schedule regular check-ins. Onboarding doesn’t end at 5 p.m. on the first day. Some experts say the process can last well into the first year. In addition to weekly mentor meetings, schedule one-on-one meetings with your new hire after a few weeks and at 30, 60 and 90 days to check progress and assimilation.

What onboarding activities would you add to this list?