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Onboarding Checklist: Employee Retention in 5 Easy Steps

Employee onboarding is extremely important. Hot take, I know. But seriously, with the Great Resignation and the trend of quiet quitting affecting organizations all over, now is not the time to skimp on good onboarding.

Just in case you need some convincing, let’s look at the numbers.

Data shows us that 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days of the job. Employees are also 18 times more committed to an employer when they had a good onboarding experience. Not only that, good onboarding can improve employee retention by as much as 82%.

However, only 12% of employees think their organization has good onboarding. 

That last number even shocked us and we’re complete nerds for onboarding. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you revamp your onboarding with our favorite tool ever: checklists.

This article will go through everything you need to know about onboarding checklists, covering:

  • Onboarding checklist steps
  • Benefits of using an onboarding checklist
  • Challenges of using an onboarding checklist
  • Best practices for using an onboarding checklist
  • Onboarding checklist software

Onboarding checklist steps

First let’s go over the steps that go into building a great onboarding checklist. Checklists keep track of everything you need to accomplish in your employee onboarding process down to the last detail. 

Step 1: Do the pre-onboarding work

Before your new hire’s first day, you need to make sure all the paperwork is in order. Your checklist should include all of the forms you and your new employee need to fill out. These documents include things such as:

  • Your new hire’s personal information (name, address, email, phone number, etc.)
  • W-4
  • I-9
  • NDA
  • Direct deposit forms
  • Insurance forms
  • Background check 

And any extras we missed, of course. It’s important to get these things squared away as early as possible. Good onboarding starts with good organization on the part of the HR manager so make sure these are all laid out in your onboarding checklist.

Include setting up the employee’s workstation, creating their accounts, preparing the benefits package, and anything else that helps your new hire’s first day go smoothly.

Step 2: Welcome the new employee

Making your new hire feel welcome is an essential part of the onboarding process, which is why the steps to do so need to be included in the onboarding checklist.

The new employee should be introduced to the team, given a tour of the office, and maybe even taken out to lunch on the first day. If the new hire is remote, spending some time with them on Zoom is a good way to make a personal connection and get to know them a bit better.

Of course, making your new hire feel welcome doesn’t mean you can’t also be productive. On your checklist, you can include:

  • Giving the new hire training material
  • Walking them through the company culture
  • Having a conversation with them about your expectations of them and vice versa 

Remember: Even the smallest recurring task should be included in your onboarding checklist.

Step 3: Give the employee a mentor

Every new hire should have a mentor. This can be anyone; it doesn’t even need to be someone within the new hire’s department. 

Ideally, a mentor should become your new hire’s first work friend. Mentors are also there to offer moral support, advice, and tips on who to sit with in the cafeteria.

Mentors are even more important if your company is remote. 

Make sure this step is in your checklist and introduce your new hire to their mentor on their first or second day of the job. 

Step 4: Assign the employee their first project

During the new hire’s first or second week, they should be assigned their first project. What that project is depends on their position, skill level, what the company needs.

You don’t need to include details of the project in the onboarding checklist. A simple approval when the project’s been completed will cover that. 

And since the new hire’s manager will be the one walking them through the project, they can be the one to give that approval if they are assigned to the task on the checklist.

 At the close of the new hire’s first week, make sure to sit down with them and set expectations for the rest of the month. This step is important because it helps the new hire know what’s coming and what they need to be prepared for. 

Step 5: Plan for the future

As your new employee settles in during their first month, you may feel that it’s time to end the onboarding process and get those last tasks ticked off the checklist. But hold your horses there, mate.

Even as the onboarding process draws to a close, you’re not done with your checklist just yet. You need to add a few more tasks to make sure you don’t forget to:

  • Plan check-in meetings. They can be weekly for the following month, bi-weekly for the following two months, or whatever works best. Just make sure you’re not throwing your new hire into the deep end. Give them plenty of opportunities to voice their questions and concerns.
  • Explain long-term goals. This ties back to setting expectations. When employees know what it is they’re working towards, it gives them something to strive for. Your new hire should be on the same page as everyone else.
  • Provide educational materials. These can be hard copies of things like the employee handbook, or even reading materials for personal growth. 

Free onboarding checklist template

To help you put this all together, we’ve made an onboarding checklist template, which you can access for free below. It includes everything we covered above, plus some extras. 

This template lays everything out in the most effective way for a great onboarding experience. It’s ready to use as-is or it can be completely customized to suit your specific needs.

⚙️ Click here to see the MSP client onboarding checklist.


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