New hire checklist: How to onboard your new employee

Congratulations! You’ve successfully hired a new employee and they’re set to begin. What’s next? The steps you take in the next few months will be very important for your new hire and their department for retention.

Ensuring that your new hire is equipped with the tools they need for success is essential, not just for their satisfaction, but for your company’s overall health, as well. A report produced by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), half of all hourly workers leave new jobs in the first four months, and half of senior outside hires fail within 18 months

Orientation

When you first hire your new employee, start them off with an orientation, which is a different process than onboarding. Orientation is an entry process that lasts a short time, while onboarding (if done well) should last up to a year.

Before you get started with an orientation, you’ll want to figure out the key elements. Consider answering the following questions:

  1. What are the takeaways you want to leave them with on their first day, and first week?
  2. What parts of your company’s culture do you want to impress upon them? (Though likely, this was covered in the hiring process.)
  3. What role will your managers, supervisors, HR reps, and coworkers play in the new hire’s onboarding process?
  4. What goals will you set for your new employee, and how will you measure their success and progress?

Consider creating an online portal or written guide. Orientation will vary depending on the organization’s structure and size. For example, fully remote organizations may want to lean into a user-friendly online portal or reserve two days of the workweek for new-hire group calls.

First-day checklist

The first day is always overwhelming, even if in the most positive sense. You’ll be throwing a lot of concepts at your new hire, so be patient and take it slow. Besides the logistic necessities like completing new hire forms, issuing ID badges (if applicable) and giving them a tour of the facility (if non-remote position) is a great time to clearly set your expectations for their performance.

Though not required, it would be wise to take them to lunch with coworkers, if possible, to get to know them and begin welcoming them into your team. Make sure to clearly express what their role within the team, and overall company, will be. Schedule a one-week check-in to reconvene after the bulk of their orientation has been completed. Send out a company-wide email welcoming them on board, and make sure they feel welcome.

First-week checklist

During this first week, you’ll want to get a lot of the logistics and administrative items taken care of. This means going over any safety plans, benefits, insurance, payroll systems, and in-house procedures. At the end of the week, conduct your scheduled meeting. Check-in with how they’re doing, what the process has been like for them, and how you can assist with getting them acclimated.

30/60/90-day plan

After you get through the first week, creating a three-month plan segmented by month is important to your new hire’s success. This tiered plan allows you to be there every step of the way and assures your employee that they are already a valued member of the team and are set up for success. Further, ensuring their longevity at the company means putting in the work to retain great talent.

First 30 days checklist

During the first 30 days, your new employee will be dipping their toes in the proverbial water. New hires will spend this time getting accustomed to their role and its accompanying responsibilities, their coworkers, their environment, and the company culture. Assigning them a mentor is a great way of helping to not just ease them into their team more seamlessly, but also help their coworkers get comfortable with them more quickly.

At the end of their first month, meet with your new hire to discuss their experience so far. Address their likes and dislikes about the position, any highlights of their time to that point, anything they may be unclear about, and any surprises that may have come up. Ask them if they understand the goals set for them and if the deliverables are clear. Lastly, let them know you’re there to assist them if they have any questions or concerns.

First 60 days checklist

With two months under their belt, the employee should be starting to gain confidence in their role. Encourage them to start taking the initiative during team meetings and sharing their opinion with the group. Schedule another meeting with them at the end of the second month and use this opportunity to check in on some more detailed questions:

  1. Do they feel they are given an appropriate amount of time to complete their work?
  2. Do they feel they’ve been well-equipped to complete the tasks assigned to them?
  3. Do they see the value their job has to the overall mission of the company?
  4. Now that they’ve spent some time in their role, do they find that it closely matches the job description they were given?
  5. How is their relationship with their coworkers progressing?
  6. What accomplishments are they most proud of so far?

Set them up for some home runs early on. Give them the chance to succeed, even if just on minor projects, so they can build the momentum they need to hit their stride.

First 90 days checklist

After three months, your employee should be getting comfortable. Understand that like all of us, they’ll encounter some hiccups and learning opportunities. Continue to assure new hires they have the opportunity to assume a higher level of responsibility. At your three-month check-in, let them know you’ll be having scheduled meetings moving forward, and clearly state what they can expect in those meetings. Usually, quarterly meetings will focus on how the employee feels they’re doing, how their goals are progressing, and in what areas they’d like to take on more responsibilities. Be sure to let them know what to expect from these meetings moving forward.

Ultimately effective communication, that sometimes may feel like overcommunicating, will create the best environment for new talent to the company!

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