On day one of my first internship during college, I was given a brief, 20-minute rundown on how the organization was structured, and what my role entailed, from my boss. I was then placed in a cubicle and given my first assignment. I got to work, though I felt both largely unprepared and frustratingly secluded.
Who was on my team? Wasn’t I supposed to meet them? Were there other interns, and where were they? And what’s the culture like, really?
Granted, it was an internship, but nonetheless, it quickly taught me the importance of onboarding.
According to an infographic by O.C. Tanner, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years after a great onboarding experience.
Ultimately, your onboarding experience is your employees’ initial introduction to the company — if you don’t implement a memorable and helpful onboarding process that fully integrates new employees into your company, you risk higher turnover rates and less productive teams.
To ensure your new hires remain thrilled by your company and engaged in their roles long after the initial onboarding process, take a look at our onboarding checklists.
An onboarding checklist is one of the easiest ways to ensure your onboarding process includes all the necessary elements to fully integrate new employees into your company. However, it’s important to note, onboarding isn’t one-size-fits-all — a junior copywriter is going to need different tools to succeed at your company than a new marketing director.
While onboarding will vary for each employee, there are a few components you should include for any new hire.
The following onboarding checklists are for managers or HR departments to use when they are helping a new hire integrate into the company. Of course, certain tasks, such as necessary paperwork or required reading, will differ depending on the company or role.
Before The First Day:
1. Acquire necessary paperwork (W-4, I-9, Insurance forms, Direct Deposit forms)
2. Ask new hire to review company employee handbook, and sign non-disclosure agreement
3. Prepare a workstation for your new hire
4. Gather necessary tools, including technology such as a computer, and/or access to required software (i.e. Photoshop)
5. Provide new hire with company email
6. Give new hire reading material, including company-wide policies and procedures, an organization chart, and a description of her role, as well as the company’s values, mission, and culture (unless this is included in employee handbook)
Before the first day, you might also consider leaving a note on your new hire’s desk, welcoming her to the team. Or, perhaps you can put branded material, like a sweatshirt or mug, on her desk as a welcome gift.
Additionally, consider sending your new hire an email, cc’ing all team members, welcoming her to the team.
On The First Day:
1. Provide new hire with all necessary information, including dress code, where she can park, what time she should arrive, and what she should bring
2. Prepare team ahead of time — let them know the new hire is arriving, so they can greet her when she gets to her workstation
3. Reserve time on your team’s calendar for a “Welcome” lunch for the new hire, and tell the new hire ahead of time
4. Give your new hire a tour of the office, including bathrooms, kitchen, and support desk
5. Set up a 1:1 between manager and employee, so manager can explain what is expected of the new hire, how the department is structured, and answer questions the new hire might have
6. Assign the new hire a mentor, and ask mentor to set up a time to have lunch with the new hire
7. Give new hire a “30-day plan”, with reading material and important information regarding what is expected of her first month on the team
The first day will vary depending on how many new hires your company onboards at one time — one new hire, of course, will require a different process than a group of 30.
However, it’s important you keep the new hire busy and engaged. You don’t want the new hire to feel awkward sitting at her desk waiting for instruction. You want to demonstrate you’ve taken the time to plan a full, productive day for the new hire.
To keep the employee engaged and excited, you might give her a “30-day plan”. Among other things, the first month plan can include:
- Names of people you suggest she reach out to for lunch or coffee. These are likely people she’ll be working with closely, or people you believe can offer her guidance
- Reading material that will help her succeed in her new role — if she’s the new social media manager, perhaps you can include blog posts about social media you’d like her to read
- The manager’s expectations for her first month (i.e. “I’d like you to brainstorm and present one marketing video campaign idea by the end of this month”)
During Week One:
1. Consider asking both new hire and manager to take the DiSC, if they haven’t already — understanding work personalities can help 1:1’s go more smoothly
2. Have 1:1 with manager and new hire, in which manager explains how she expects 1:1’s to go, and how she wants new hire to prepare for each 1:1 meeting
3. Within first few days, assign the first project to your new hire. This will help her feel like a valuable asset to the team, and allow her to become more comfortable in her role
4. Ensure all required paperwork is filled out
5. Review employee performance evaluations, and set goals for month one
6. If necessary, set aside time to teach new hire how to use new software
As a manager, it’s critical you clear your schedule (for the most part), if you’re solely in charge of your new hire’s integration into the new team. Take the time to thoughtfully consider one-on-one lessons you can set up to acclimate your new hire to your software or work processes.
Additionally, keep her engaged in what’s happening with the larger team. Ask her if she wants to sit in on meetings that, while not directly relevant to her at the moment, might be useful to her as she grows in her role — or simply might help her get a better sense of what your team does, or what kind of culture your department fosters.
Ultimately, it’s critical she has a firm understanding not just of her own role, but how her role fits into the company as a whole.
For the First Month:
1. Set up weekly meetings to give your new hire constructive criticism regarding her first couple assignments
2. Provide her with additional reading material as you see fit — perhaps you suggest books related to her role, or articles you feel will help with her professional growth
3. Check-in that she is meeting the appropriate people and getting lunch or coffee with core members of the team
4. Ask for feedback from the new hire(s) — if its a large group, offer the option to fill-out an anonymous survey. If you have only one new hire, simply ask her what else she needs to succeed or what she wishes the company provided
5. Organize a team outing to help the new hire bond with the team — if dinner is difficult to plan, consider getting lunch with the team away from the office
6. Ask her mentor to check-in with her
During the first month, it’s important your employee have a firm understanding of what’s expected of her, and who she can turn to for guidance.
Additionally, your new hire likely has particular preferences regarding how she’d like to be managed. After providing constructive feedback during each one-on-one, ask her if she has any feedback for you as her manager.
Towards the end of the initial onboarding process, ask new hires to fill out a survey regarding the onboarding process. Your HR team can use these suggestions to alter the process for future employees.
While we’ve only covered the first month, it’s important to note studies have shown companies with less than one month dedicated to onboarding are 9% less likely to keep first-year employees than companies with longer processes. Your new hires need time to fully acclimate to their roles and the company culture. A good time frame is roughly one to three months minimum, but some companies choose to implement an onboarding process that lasts a full year.
Ultimately, a good onboarding process will take into consideration both what your team needs from your new hire, and what your new hire needs to succeed in her role. It might require flexibility and patience, but it’s worth it if you can show your new hire she’s a valuable asset to your team. You can also adjust your strategies as you learn more about her strengths and weaknesses.