Awesome tips for a new employee checklist

Last updated:
January 11, 2021
December 22, 2021
min read
Bev Campling
Table of contents

After a grueling interview process, you’ve just signed the best candidate, and with the offer in hand, it's time to focus on other things until they arrive, right? Not quite! Onboarding prep starts immediately an offer is accepted, and a new employee checklist is a must-have.

Whether you’re hiring in a major corporation or a start-up, proper onboarding is essential if you want your new staff member to last. Onboarding statistics show that employee onboarding can improve retention by a massive 82%. And quite shockingly, 88% of organizations don’t onboard well!

Is your company in that 88%? Don’t stress; it’s never too late to start employee onboarding and we’re going to tell you how.

What goes into designing a new employee onboarding checklist?

The purpose of the checklist is to ensure that HR and hiring managers take all the steps necessary to onboard new employees properly. Because the process usually involves different departments, it’s essential to consult across the board when creating a new employee checklist.

It’s easy to overlook peripheral requirements for making a new employee feel welcome, so cover all your bases carefully. Write timelines into your checklist. Confirm them with the hiring team, make team notes and use the team calendar in your applicant tracking system so that no one forgets.

Departments that can be part of the onboarding chain include:

  • HR
  • IT
  • Legal
  • Payroll
  • Training
  • Procurement

Not all new employees will have the same requirements. Design a comprehensive new hire checklist template that can be edited as needed.

Essential behind the scenes steps before the start date

Considering the departments listed above, include the following steps in your pre-start checklist.

The HR team

Confirm that the job requisition has been approved and that all HR requirements have been met. HR policies can require that qualifications were confirmed, background checks done or past employment references conducted before the appointment. Also, confirm whether HR needs documentation other than the employment contract to be signed. Individual roles could require agreements such as personal indemnity, non-disclosure, restraint of trade, etc.

The IT team

Part of making new employees feel welcome is ensuring that their workstation is set up correctly for them. It’s essential that they have email, passwords, and access to internal and external platforms ready and waiting for them. There might also be a need to replace or add equipment.

Confirm what timeline IT needs to get everything up and running. Also, if the new hire is inheriting a computer from another employee, get IT to check that it works well and that there are no unwelcome leftovers saved by the previous owner.

The legal team

If the position needs specific agreements, get clarity from the legal team. Also, consult them if the new employee has been placed in another state or country. Labor laws differ, and employers are obliged to keep within local law parameters irrespective of where the head office is based.

The payroll team

Advise the payroll team of the new hire, the start date and their compensation package. Further details required by payroll will include personal tax details, banking details and personal identity documents. Also, advise payroll of benefits and commissions or bonuses that have been agreed.

The training team

If the new employee needs training within the first few weeks of starting, check what the training schedules are. Advise the training team of the requirements and confirm training dates.

The procurement team

If you need to buy new furniture, equipment, tools, etc. speak to the procurement team to arrange purchase and delivery before that starting date.

Employee records checklist

Every employee has a personal file, usually maintained by HR that contains everything about them throughout their tenure. A personal file includes both electronic and hardcopy records starting with an original CV, signed offer, employment contract and all new hire paperwork that follows. Employee files must also include personal data, such as next of kin and specific health conditions in case of an emergency. Ensure that the data is up to date before the start date.

Employment contract

Check the accuracy of the employment contract. Make sure that the job description, job title, compensation, and benefits package is correct. Verify performance bonuses and commission targets if they apply.  Confirm the terms of employment and termination conditions.

Signed contracts

Confirm that all forms required by labor law as well as mandatory internal contacts have been prepared, completed and signed. Confirm who internally is responsible for signing individual agreements. It could be line managers, HR or the legal department. If an agreement is signed by an unauthorized party it could deem it to be null and void.

Employee benefits

Prepare the employee benefits documents if applicable. Ensure that each benefit document includes the terms and conditions that must be explained to the new employee before they sign. The most common benefits include health and life insurance, use of mobile phone, tablet or laptop, company car, and tuition reimbursement.

New employee first-day checklist

Onboarding new employees begin the moment they walk through the door on their first day. That means that everything must be in place and there must be someone there to meet them as they arrive. It should be someone that the new hire has already met like the recruiter or anyone else who was on the hiring team. Seeing a familiar face makes it more comfortable and welcoming.


Take the new hire directly to their workstation when they arrive so that they can put their personal belongings down or remove their coat. Their workstation must:

  • Be fully equipped and up and running.
  • Have an onboarding kit and a welcome letter.
  • Have a welcome gift (that can be a branded item).
  • Have an employee ID, nameplate or a set of business cards.
  • Have a copy of the employee handbook, including the code of conduct.
  • Have an agenda for the first day and a work schedule for the first week.


Once the new employee has put their personals safely in their workstation, take them on a tour of their direct working environment. While you’re doing that, introduce them to team members and direct line managers.

Later on, the same day send a welcoming email to the rest of the organization to introduce everyone to the new hire, detailing their role and department. Encourage staff to welcome the new employee. Also, invite the new hire to join relevant groups on social media or internal platforms.

Assign a mentor from within the team

Once you’ve done the tour and intros and the new hire is ready to return to their workstation hook them up with the team member who’ll be their mentor for the first few weeks. Select someone who knows the company and the department and who is also caring. The mentor must avail themselves to answer questions, offer guidance and introduce the new employee to staff from other departments. A caring mentor makes navigating the early days much more comfortable.

Explaining employment paperwork

Schedule a time to go through the new employee paperwork as well as the onboarding kit and details in the employee handbook. Ensure that all legal and mandatory internal documents are signed. Go through the benefits as well as the terms and conditions. When you’re done confirm that they have all the relevant copies they need. Also, give them the contacts of people to speak to if they have any questions later on.

At the end of the first day

Check-in with the new hire to see how their day went. Confirm that they have everything they need and also that they had an easy start with job responsibilities. If possible, check-in privately with team members to confirm that the new employee is comfortable and happy. If there are any red flags have them addressed immediately.

That’s not the end of onboarding

Your new employee checklist extends beyond the first day. Onboarding should be an ongoing process that continues throughout the first year of tenure. Over time it will gradually merge with the employee performance management process.

At the end of week one

Check-in with the new employee to see how they’re settling in. Confirm that all their equipment is fully functional and that they’ve been given work assignments. Also, ensure that they’ve been introduced to all key colleagues and internal and external role-players. Encourage them to reach out if they have any questions or concerns.

After one month

Touch base again and review the past month. Focus on getting feedback from the new hire instead of asking questions as you did after week one. Use open-ended questions and take note of the employee’s replies as well as their body language. Avoid yes/no questions because you’ll learn very little. You want to know if they’re settling in well. Ask things like:

  • How is the working environment?
  • What do you think of the rest of the team?
  • How are your colleagues supporting you?
  • What work has been assigned to you, and how did it go?
  • What do you think of the company as a whole?
  • What can we do to make things easier for you?

After three months

Schedule another face to face meeting after three months. You should, however, regularly touch base informally in-between as well. After three months, you can include a casual performance review and also discuss performance goals.

Confirm that the employee has received all the training that was scheduled at the start date. Also, discuss whether any further training is required. Ask for feedback and give honest feedback in return. Look for red flags of discontent and don’t ignore them. Probe them and see how they can be resolved.

After six months

By now, the employee should be settled in and able to function independently. Have another formal meeting that encompasses everything discussed at the end of month three. At this point you can also ask them if they have any ideas on how systems and processes can be improved within their department and even in other departments.

Again, keep an eye on any red flags of unhappiness or loss of enthusiasm. If they are there, ask why and discuss what can be done.

Find out what they’ve learned about the company and what new skills they’ve acquired. This should give you an idea of how engaged they are. Set performance goals for the next six months and ask the employee to contribute ideas and solutions to achieving these goals.

After one year

Arrange a final meeting to conclude the onboarding process. After a year, you can conduct a formal performance review based on progress, growth and overall contribution. By now the employee should be working at full-speed, be totally involved and they should be growing in the position.

If they’re engaged, the employee should be making recommendations and have their own goals in mind. Feedback should be spontaneous.

Give recognition for their contribution over the past year and discuss a salary raise as well as any changes to their benefits.


A new employee checklist must never be a static document, and you must amend it for each role and also improve on it as you go. There’s always room for improvement, and each new hire can teach you something new about employee retention.

A new employee onboarding checklist has two prime objectives: ensuring that you don’t overlook any legal and internal process requirements and helping the new hire settle to become a happy and productive staff member.

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