The importance of retail employee onboarding

New employees who were offered a well structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to remain in the company for up to 3 years. Unfortunately, most retail firms don't have a proper onboarding process in place. Many companies are informal or distant about the way they induct new employees, which results in statistics like these:

•     Half of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months in a new position
•     Half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first 120 days

Failures like these can be avoided with a good onboarding system. According the SHRM onboarding research paper, Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success, good onboarding was found to lead to:

  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Organizational commitment
  • Lower turnover
  • Higher performance levels
  • Career effectiveness
  • Lowered stress

Retail employee onboarding is often done en-masse, through training presentations or remotely, through videos. Employee orientation sessions, as they are often called, usually include information about the brand, the values of the company and how/why the company started up in the first place.

Connection, Clarification, Culture, Compliance

The Four Cs are found in different ratios in different levels of onboarding: passive, high-potential and proactive.

Passive: much of the process is automated.
High-potential: includes culture and connection - seeing work on an interpersonal level
Proactive: "systematically organizing onboarding with a strategic human resource management approach" - investing in people.

This guide teaches the proactive approach, the most effective approach according to SHRM.

Part of the point of such exercises is to get the employees into the spirit of the brand, but also adding education about your products can be a big boost for your company. According to Onboarding Trends Report:

"30 percent of businesses who continually update their onboarding programs, are more likely to be positioned to respond to industry indicators and employee trends. New studies in the team productivity improvement efforts allow for new adjustments to an onboarding program" 

A fully automated onboarding process is not proven to be the best tactic, but dealing with new employees on a personal level, is. This checklist can also be seen as a guide to onboarding best practice. It will run through everything you need to do to ensure success, according to credited sources and case studies.

(Hiring Manager) Before Start Date:

Record employee information

First off, you need to record the basic information of the employee for ease of access. Fill out the form fields below manually, or integrate them with your employee database to automatically shift the data.

Collect vital forms

When hiring a new employee you need to remember the basics - all forms must be intact and passed on to the HR department. Save copies of these vital forms using the form fields below.

If you require some examples of the necessary forms, see below.

  1. Intellectual property and assignment agreement (Customizable example)
  2. Non-Disclosure agreement (Customizable example)

Call employee

Make an informal checking-in call to address any last-minute issues and clear up any questions your new employee might have. The sub-checklist below contains the basics that you need to ensure that they are aware of.

  • 1
    Confirm start date, time, place, parking, dress code, etc
  • 2
    Identify technological needs and requirements
  • 3
    Arrange any prerequisite training ahead of time

Bear in mind that most of the problems they are likely to bring up will be solved in the orientation session.

Schedule meeting times

Schedule appointments for you and the new employee on his/her calendar (as well as yours). Record the date of (at least) two meetings using the form fields below.

For the first two weeks you should be the one updating this calendar, but later on have the employee set it up too so they know the meeting schedule.

Go to and click on the correct time/date slot.

Add the employee's email address and save the event to send them a notification inviting them to add the event to their calendar, too. If anything changes, the event will automatically update for them to see.


Notify relevant department

Ensure anyone who will be reported to by the new employee is notified. This can be done by sending out an email to all relevant parties, such as the one we have provided below in the email widget.

Include departments and individuals who will be affected by the onboarding procedure or new hire such as:

  • Receptionist
  • Security personel
  • Close co-workers

Arrange meetings with team

Arrange the new employee to meet their managers and other important members of their new team. Record the dates of these meetings using the form fields below.

In the early stages of employment (up to 4 weeks) it is important for new employees to meet with team members and managers on a personal level to encourage teamwork and a pleasant working environment.

You can schedule these using Google Calendar and share the event via email, as detailed in task above - "Schedule meeting times on employee's calendar".

Add employee to email lists

Next up, you need to add your employee to any email lists you have for the rest of the team.

If your internal mailing list is powered by MailChimp or another similar service, you are likely to be familiar with the process already. If not, it's highly recommended to use Mailchimp for both internal notifications and marketing campaigns.

An alternative to email is Slack. If your company uses Slack, it's as providing your new employee with the link. For example, anyone who uses a [email protected] email address can join

Send welcome video

A welcome video can be incredibly useful in breaking the ice and setting the tone for your new employee; you should now send yours over.

If you don't have a welcome video, Zenput provides advice in this blog post:

"The key is to be human. If your new employee won’t be interacting with the executive team, why is there a guy in a suit talking at her? Try creating a custom message. Your regional manager can take a short video with his smartphone and upload it to the portal. The message can be simple:

“Hi, Mary. Welcome to [name of company]. I’m excited to have you on board, and I’m looking forward to meeting you on my next visit. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call.”"

Prepare for orientation session

The general orientation session should clear up any questions the employee has without taking too much time going into specifics such as training. Prepare for the session by going through the employee manual, and upload a copy of (or link to) this in the form fields below.

Much of what's written in the next sections of the checklist will be in writing form in the company's Employee Handbook. If your company doesn't have one, here's a post from Inc. explaining the content to include. 

Even though the employee handbook will detail sick leave, parking, etc., make sure still to go through it in person, following the steps below.

Use Evernote for a paperless employee handbook.


Prepare a mission statement

If your firm hasn't solidly decided on a mission statement yet, this post outlines what makes a good and bad one. 

If you have one already, it's as simple as providing a copy to your new employee. This could be in the handbook, or in the slideshow of the orientation session.

Set goals and objectives

Go deeper into the key ideas laid out by the mission statement and explain the goals and objectives of your company. 

This includes the value you try to provide to customers and employees, as well as the job performance standards you try to maintain.

Create an organizational structure

Explain further the employee's job description and the relationship of their position to others in the business. Let them know who reports to them and who they will be reporting to.

Clarify future plans

Share relevant sections of your business strategy with your employees (if applicable). This will let them know what you expect from them and what to expect from you.

You can use shareable checklists with rich media to keep track of your company's progress.

Company policies and procedures:

Explain dress code

Does your company encourage any of these levels of dress? As stated by Business Insider, explain to your employee which level you require and whether they can dress +1/-1 around it to their preference.

Inform about reporting procedures

You should also inform the employee about the reporting procedures in your company. Start by completing the dropdown below.

Depending on experience and superiority, you might customize a different report frequency for each new employee, or may want to standardize it.

How should it be done?

What is your company's go-to service for messaging? Slack, email or another service? Try to keep everything in one place for easy reference and to minimize time wasted checking different places.

Talk about smoking restrictions

Outline the smoking areas and times appropriate for employees to smoke.

Does your company have a smoking cessation program? For obvious health reasons, everyone wants a smoke-free workplace. Read about the idea on

Discuss expense claims

Outline your policy on expense claims. This document from Financial Ombudsan gives you an idea of the kinds of things an established company allows claims for, and could be used as a guideline.

Notify about legislation

To avoid legal issues, make sure you notify your employee in writing about any and all legislation you enforce

The employee handbook is a great place to put this.

Go over safety procedures

Refer to this guide if you don't have hazard prevention in place in the office already:

Fill in emergency procedures template

Download this template and fill it in for your employees so they know what to do in case of emergency. Upload the completed template to the form field below for later access.


Teach how to operate telephone system

If you use a landline telephone system, make sure you get your new employees familiarized with the system including:

  • Extensions
  • Transferring calls
  • Calling different departments
  • Using the answering machine

Note down who to call for repairs

In the event that something goes wrong, you need to also let your employee know who to contact and how to get through to them. Fill in the form fields below with the relevant details to then pass on.


Leave a note with your employees with the name and telephone number of your repair staff or general IT department.


Include instructions on who to call in case of non-technical breakages.

Make a list of used software and hardware

Collate a checklist of the different software and hardware they will need to use so your employee can check off what they already know. This is the perfect time to create your own sub-checklist!

We've provided a few basic items in the one below, but go through and edit it to your requirements.

  • 1
    Cash Register
  • 2
    Card Machine
  • 3

Address training for any new systems over email or in the next meeting.

Arrange training dates for any unfamiliar technology

Any unchecked boxes on the software/hardware checklist should be addressed and training time should be scheduled either on the job or before the start date, depending on the employee's flexibility and your needs.

Be careful with the CRM, especially if it is Salesforce or another traditionally complicated application.

Benefits and leave:

Explain the benefits package

Do you offer any of the below perks to your employees? If so, explain the specifics of each.

  • 1
    General Coverage 
  • 2
    Medical Insurance 
  • 3
    Dental Insurance 
  • 4
    Vision/Eye Care Insurance 
  • 5
    Life Insurance 
  • 6
    Accidental Death Insurance 
  • 7
    Business Travel Insurance 
  • 8
    Disability Insurance 
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
    Sick/Personal Days 
  • 12
    401(k) Plans 
  • 13
    Pension Plans 
  • 14
    Profit Sharing 
  • 15
    Stock Options/Restricted Shares/ESOPs 
  • 16
    Tuition Reimbursement 
  • 17
    Health Clubs 
  • 18
    Dependent Care 
  • 19
    Employee Assistance Programs 
  • 20
    Overtime/Travel Premiums/Comp Time 
  • 21
    Parking Reimbursement 
  • 22
    Commuting Cost Reimbursement 
  • 23
    Expense Reimbursement 
  • 24
    Mobile Phone Reimbursement

Discuss leave

Along with benefits, you need to discuss leave with the employee.

Mandatory leave
FMLA, ADA, military leave, workers’ comp, and jury duty.

Non-mandatory leave
Non-mandatory types of employee leave include vacation, personal days, holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, disability leave, and paid time off.

Sick leave
Sick leave (or paid sick days or sick pay) is time off from work that workers can use to stay home to address their health and safety needs without losing pay.

State leave laws
Some have their own medical, pregnancy, childbirth, and military leave laws. Search in Google for "what are the leave laws in + state".

Working environment:

Tour facility and work areas

A full tour lets new employees feel comfortable in the area while giving them a chance to meet their co-workers. During the tour (perhaps using your phone) tick off the below sub-checklist items to make sure you don't miss anything.

  • 1
  • 2
    Break/lunch rooms
  • 3
    Kitchen, including any department procedures/norms
  • 4
    Closest dining hall, coffee/tea location, and vending machines
  • 5
    Local lunch options and locations
  • 6
    Supply room, including any department procedures/norms
  • 7
    Emergency and first aid supplies
  • 8
    Photocopy, fax machine, and scanner (including instructions on use)
  • 9
    Mail Room
  • 10
    Transportation services and stops


Introduce employees

You also need to introduce the new hire to your existing employees.

According to Alexander Kjerulf, “Socializing with your coworkers is essential for your career".

The process of feeling like you're building something together is something that will make your employees feel great about doing their job.

Arrange for socialization in and out of the work environment - maybe go for a meal or have a group brainstorming meeting together to encourage communication, bearing in mind some are shyer than others.

Identify safety equipment

Identify and locate the following safety items.

  • 1
    First aid kit
  • 2
    Fire extinguisher / blanket
  • 3
    Fire alarm
  • 4
    Window hammer
  • 5
    Panic button
  • 6
    Relevant section regarding safety in the employee handbook

Job clarification:

Describe job responsibilities and performance expectations

Refer to the original messages (job advertisement or proposal email) and clarify that the employee has understood his or her responsibilities.

Relate to the previous session regarding company goals and objectives to explain what kind of performance you expect from your staff in order to achieve your goals.

Provide manuals for operating equipment

If necessary after the employee handbook and soft/hardware training, provide full documentation to your staff for all unfamiliar equipment.

If further clarification is needed, organize extra training sessions if appropriate.

Detailed software induction:

Enroll into company software

First, create a company email address. Record this in the form field below.

Use this to sign them up for all of the below services, and any extra ones you might use:

Train to use more advanced software

If your employee hasn't used a particular piece of software before you need to arrange a training session with them to go through on how you use it at your company. Make sure they are at the same level as everyone else before expecting them to use it properly.

After the initial rundown and training in the basics, evaluate who (if anyone) needs more help getting into the software.

Transitioning from training:

Assign first task

After the employee has been trained you need to assign them to their first task. Record this task in the form field below.

The first assignment is an important part of retail employee onboarding. If everything goes as planned, it will give employee and employer alike confidence in each other and lay the foundation for a successful working relationship.

According to MIT, when conducting a first assignment you should:

Explain the expected outcome(s) of the assignment.

  • What will be the end result of the assignment? Will it be newly created or updated?

  • What will the desired outcome look like? (Provide examples, if possible.)

  • How will success be measured?

Clarify the importance of the outcome(s).

This will help the employee connect the assignment to the overall organization.

  • Where do the results fit in the larger organizational picture? (Consider missions, goals, and priorities). This will help the employee understand the impact the job has on the organization.

  • Who will benefit from the results (students, faculty, staff, alumni, external stakeholders, others)?

Describe the key features of the assignment.

  • What actions or steps are required?

  • What resources or resource limitations may apply?

  • What are the deadlines? Will there be milestones to meet prior to the final deadline?

  • What is the priority of the assignment for the employee?

  • How will progress be monitored?

Define the level of authority the employee will exercise throughout the assignment.

  • Should the employee carry out exact instructions?

  • Should the employee bring recommendations to be decided by the manager?

  • What recommendations should the manager and new hire decide together?

  • If the new employee has the authority to make decisions, should he/she inform management before acting?

  • Will the new employee have the authority to make decisions, act, and then inform management of the outcome?

Let the employee know who else will be involved in the assignment.

  • Who can influence success?

  • Who will the employee need to consult with? (Ensure that the employee knows how to contact any relevant individuals.)

  • Who will the employee need to get resources from, if needed?

Identify potential issues, and determine how they will be addressed.

  • What could possibly interrupt or stand in the way of success in this assignment?

  • How should any potential issues be resolved?

Continued communication

After the orientation session, or just whenever is convenient for you, make sure to note down how the employee likes to be contacted so you can tailor your continued communication in a way that suits them. In-person, phone, email, or something else?


  • When meetings will be
  • How often you are going to be checking in
  • Whether you have an open door policy
  • How you handle issues your employee would like to discuss

First performance review:

Set out expectations for the meeting

Talk about upcoming opportunities for growth in the company overall, mention that you will be giving detailed feedback about areas of success and areas for improvement. Don't forget to say you are also looking for ways you can make the employee's time at the company even better.

Ask for the employee's perspective first

Establish a dialog and show that it is a give-and-take relationship. The employee may tell you that they fear they are under-performing in a certain area, or about what they really like doing. All of this is good information to take into account for the next section and the rest of your time working together.

Give specific examples

Start by focusing on the main areas of work and commending your employee for well done tasks. Start positive, but remind them there is always opportunity for growth. Be specific about areas you feel could be improved - being vague is no use and won't trigger an improvement.

The future

Let your employee know if they are being considered for promotion or a raise. It will let them know they are valuable and they will feel better overall about their job. If not, what kind of behavior might help them get where they want to be? What kind of behavior will not?

Ask for questions

It's best to get as much insight as possible on your employee's mindset. It can never hurt to know more about their concerns.


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