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The Must - Have Onboarding Checklist

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In this hyper-competitive day and age where the war for talent is raging on, now more than ever companies need to seamlessly bridge the gap between candidate experience and employee experience. Onboarding is critical to the successful integration of a new employee into your organization, and a smooth onboarding process can help set your company apart from the competition.

Sloppy, poorly planned onboarding can result in decreased productivity, disengagement, and wasted resources. Smooth, robust onboarding procedures are an obligation for an effective employee experience that elbows out recruiting competition.


In a study by Bersin & Deloitte, researchers found that a sizable amount of turnover happens within the first year. Can you guess the average amount of employees who leave after one year? A whopping 25%.  Furthermore, the study showed that the cost to the company to replace new hires turning over in less than 1 year was 3x the salary of said employee.


It Takes A Village

What can you do to set yourself and your company up for success when onboarding new employees to your organization? Plan, Plan, Plan! An onboarding checklist is a document used in the new hire process that lists every single action item needed to successfully integrate a new employee into your organization.

Contrary to popular best practices, HR is not the sole party responsible for onboarding.  Your new hire checklist should include action items that span across departments. Companies could enlist the help of functions such as Recruiting, IT, Finance/Payroll, and Facilities, for example.  The key to having a successful onboarding plan from start to finish is mapping out your new hire checklist in detail. Then make sure that the stakeholders involved in your onboarding plan are held accountable to complete the needed actions. As the old saying goes,"it takes a village" and some good ole' cross departmental collaboration.


What to Include in a New Hire Checklist

An effective onboarding checklist includes critical tasks that no new hire can function without. Such essential tasks might include hosting a new hire orientation, organizing a "Week One" agenda for your new hire and completing new hire paperwork like the federal I-9 and W-4 forms. In addition, your new hire checklist should also include items that make your company special and welcome your new hire in with open arms into the company culture.


  • You should strive to weave your company brand and culture into  your onboarding process. Items that might be unique to your company's new hire checklist might include: 'Meet the New Hires' company wide happy hour where team members are invited for happy hour to celebrate the newest hires to the team,

  • A workshop about getting to know the company core values,

  • A monthly group coffee with the CEO.

Choose items that make your new hires feel welcomed, celebrated, and part of your unique culture. Contrary to popular belief, the onboarding process starts well before your new hire’s first day. (That's why new hires can acces the HR Cloud Onboard Portal, prior to a start date.) The period of time to plan for when developing an onboarding checklist begins right after a candidate accepts their offer. Depending on the needs of your organization, your new employee and your industry as a whole, onboarding timelines can range anywhere from less than a week to nearly a year. The key to having a solid onboarding plan is to develop a sturdy, well-tested structure that’s just malleable enough that you can personalize the process for each hire.   


Onboarding Themes to Remember

There are three main themes to successfully onboarding a new employee, and you want to make sure that any of the action items on the onboarding checklist can refer back to one of these three themes:


1.) Tactical Onboarding - any onboarding task that allows a new hire to gain tactical or operational information necessary to function as an employee. (i.e. Is my equipment set up on day one? Do I know the WiFi password? Is my parking pass ready? Did I receive instructions with my schedule for my first day?)

2.) Job Knowledge & Organizational Context - any onboarding task that allows a new hire to gain knowledge and understanding about their role in their new company and/or industry. (i.e. Do I understand my role on my team and in the greater organization? Have I been offered the training necessary on X to perform my role successfully? Do I understand my goals or the contributions required of me?)

3.) Cultural Embrace & Branding - any onboarding task that allows a new hire to gain understanding of the Company's voice and values. (i.e. Do I feel a sense of belonging to my new company? Have I gotten to know my coworkers? Do I understand the cultural values?)


Building on these these themes within a timeline for HR, IT, Managers and Payroll can be complex and  HR Cloud's flagship product Onboard helps make it simple for you and of course, your new hires. To receive a FREE Onboarding Checklist click here so you can have a specific itemized Onboarding Checklist for reference when building your new onboarding process. We look forward to hearing from you! 


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HR Cloud is a leading developer of HR software & HRMS solutions for small and medium size businesses that have high turnover. HR Cloud's Onboard is market leading technology for effective new hire onboarding and Workmates enables employee engagement simply and easily. Founded in 2012, our HRIS empowers teams to easily onboard new hires, manage employee data, create a company social network and support employee development.

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