HR Administration

Employee onboarding checklist: the basics [Free Template]

By Jana Reserva

Oct. 26, 2023


You’ve been recruiting for a vacant position, and a candidate finally accepted a job offer. That’s great! But now comes the more crucial part — onboarding. Believe it or not, onboarding new hires involves more than a welcome email and signing an employment contract. 

Webinar: Best Practices for Onboarding Hourly Staff

Employee onboarding sets the tone for new hires; employers must show competency, inspire trust, and reduce friction. It is also where new hires get their first impression of company culture and see if the work aligns with what was discussed during the recruitment stage. 

*Psst! Click here for a free onboarding checklist. It’s comprehensive and all you should need to get started. 

The make-or-break stage

Half of hourly workers leave a job within the first four months or 120 days, according to SHRM. Turnover like this can be mitigated with proper onboarding techniques. 

While primarily an administrative process, onboarding is also an experiential process – this cannot be overlooked.

The most surface-level way to fulfill the experiential part of onboarding is to make it feel good. You also need to make it easy. Consider whatever system you use for onboarding; does the user interface (UI) delight the user? Is the user experience (UX) easy to navigate?

The experiential aspect of onboarding does not end after a pleasant-looking checklist is completed. You also need to integrate new hires successfully into the team and provide them with a sense of belonging. Typically, this takes at least 90 days.

Attracting candidates is only half the battle. The other half is retaining them, and that starts with onboarding.

How to improve your employee onboarding process

Employee onboarding can be daunting, especially considering its administrative and experiential aspects. A new hire checklist goes beyond gathering direct deposit information and signing tax forms. Here are some best practices to help you navigate this stage and ensure better employee retention.

Use employee onboarding software

If you find paperwork tedious, so does your new hire.

An effective onboarding platform significantly reduces the admin burden for the human resources team, hiring managers, and incoming employees. It streamlines the necessary paperwork and ensures data integrity by taking out manual processes.

Ideally, most onboarding-related admin tasks should be accomplished before the first day. For instance, with the onboarding system, new hires can upload the necessary pre-employment documents before they begin work. That means that contracts, W-4s, bank details, and employee personal information are all lodged into the system well before their start date. When these are done, you can focus on making a new hire’s first day more meaningful and productive. 

Prepare equipment and tools ahead of time

Aside from lengthy paperwork, you also need to ensure that tools and equipment related to the job are ready before a new employee’s start date. This includes uniforms, access to company systems and software, office equipment, or even vehicles if they are working on-site. 

The last thing a new hire should face on the first day is incomplete equipment or confusing guidelines. Welcome merch is all fun and good, but having the necessary work items and equipment ready can help your new hire settle in faster.  

Answer potential workplace questions before day one

Taking on a new role is exciting, but it’s normal for new hires to feel anxious about a new job. Much of this anxiety comes from the anticipation of meeting new teammates, acclimating to a different work environment, and easing into the organization’s culture.

Aside from discussing new hire paperwork and eligibility for benefits, it also helps to review smaller things like dress code, shift swap policies, unavailability, and day-to-day tasks.

Give managers support

Employee onboarding is a tall order, and the onus is on the team leaders and managers to ensure its success. 

Ensure managers have the support and tools to help them successfully onboard new team members. One way to do this is to let new hires fill out their own onboarding information rather than HR. When this kind of admin burden is taken from managers and placed on the employee, managers can focus on creating a better and more personalized onboarding experience for their new hires

Integrate onboarding with recruitment

Recruitment is how you attract top talent. Onboarding is how you keep it.

Recruitment is not just about selling the role to potential candidates and finding the best fit. It’s about setting expectations and painting a picture of what the position entails and what working for the organization is like. While the goal is to attract top talent, it’s detrimental to over-promise in terms of benefits, work environment, and growth opportunities.

Onboarding is the stage where the organization must meet the expectations set during the hiring process. This is the stage to follow through a good first impression. If employees find that the work is far from what was described during recruitment, they tend to quit even before they are fully onboarded. 

Recruitment and onboarding must go hand in hand. You must integrate them to avoid unnecessary recruitment costs, staffing issues, and high turnover rates.  

Set onboarding milestones

Tracking new hire onboarding success is best done with a roadmap that includes a set of milestones

What do you want new hires to learn or achieve within specific timeframes? Typically, onboarding programs last at least 90 days. If that’s the case, you can set milestones for 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. Goal setting is crucial for successful onboarding. A roadmap provides new hires structure and specific objectives to focus on and helps managers track and measure a new employee’s progress. 

Give and gather feedback

Giving and gathering employee feedback is a massive part of onboarding. While feedback is typically given during milestones or scheduled check-ins, it should be more fluid and quick and can be part of daily job training and interactions. Feedback doesn’t always need to be a sit-down meeting. It’s also helpful when it’s quick and more spontaneous. 

Constant feedback is essential for developing new hires, but managers also need it to improve the onboarding process or operations. When new hires feel that their feedback matters to the team, employee satisfaction matters. When they feel heard and valued, they are more likely to see themselves in the organization for a long time.

Also read: How to improve internal communications with your hourly workers

Consider using templates

You would likely onboard new employees for certain positions more than once, especially when you run an hourly workforce. You’d probably do a lot of onboarding during peak seasons, especially when hiring seasonal or contractual staff. Using templates means that you don’t need to spend as much time curating an onboarding plan each time. 

Templates in the form of checklists, training materials, and video guides are helpful. However, remember to update them to reflect any procedural or policy changes. 

Make sure that such materials are accessible to new hires, mainly since they would most likely refer to them in the course of the onboarding period. A sound self-service system is vital to this, as it enables new hires to find answers to FAQs, and managers can focus more on clarifying more complex questions or matters. 

Incorporate fun elements

The onboarding process is crucial but doesn’t have to be boring. 

You can insert some fun elements to help new hires feel at ease as they integrate into the team. For instance, teammates can record a short video message that describes what the team or department does in a fun and informal way or tidbits of non-work related information such as the best place to go for meal breaks or coffee. Short and informal all-hands sessions also help familiarize a new hire with other team members. If your company provides a standard welcome kit or swag bag to new hires, consider adding a short welcome letter from the team for a personalized touch. 

Fun elements for onboarding don’t have to be full of fanfare, but incorporating those helps enrich the early stages of onboarding. 

New employee onboarding checklist template

The onboarding process takes place before the new employee’s first day. Here’s a checklist of key things you must remember during onboarding. Feel free to use it for your team and customize it accordingly. 

New hire documentation

  • Accepted and signed job offer/job description
  • Tax forms 
  • Insurance paperwork
  • Employment contract
  • Compensation and benefits package

Guides and policies

  • Employee handbook
  • Job description
  • Safety procedures/manuals
  • Security rules and policies

Accounts, devices, and equipment

  • Setup company email
  • Provide time clock access
  • Secure work uniforms
  • Setup credentials or access to necessary software tools such as HCM systems and project management software
  • Add new hires to relevant work chats or email distribution lists
  • Issue work phone, tablet, or computer
  • Assign workstation/workspace

First day

  • Team introduction
  • Workplace tour
  • Give welcome kit/company swag bag
  • Finalize other administrative paperwork, if any.


  • Run through paperwork and make sure they’re complete
  • Briefly go through job roles, benefits, and insurance plans
  • Go over essential points in the handbook. Inform them where they can find a copy.
  • Discuss important company policies briefly.
  • Assign a mentor or onboarding buddy.

Development plans

  • Create 30-day development plan
  • Create 60-day development plan
  • Create 90-day development plan

Milestones and follow-through

  • Check-in after the first week
  • Check-in after 30 days
  • Check-in after 60 days
  • Check-in after 90 days

As you follow through and provide feedback, optimize if your development plan needs tweaking.

Simplify your employee onboarding

The template provided above is just to get you started. For more on how to optimize your onboarding process, check out our free webinar below featuring NBC-HWC certified coach Laura Timbrook:

Webinar: Best Practices for Onboarding Hourly Staff


Are you eager to streamline your onboarding right now? Discover how to reduce onboarding tasks to just 3 minutes with’s self-service employee onboarding by booking a call today. 

Jana Reserva is a content manager for

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