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New hire training checklist and onboarding guide

88% of employees say they didn’t have a good onboarding experience. That shouldn’t come as a surprise when many businesses are reluctant to invest in their onboarding processes.

But your new hire’s first impression of your business is crucial. And onboarding introduces new team members to your company culture, lets them know what to expect when they start their position, and equips them with everything they need to know to get started. It may even contribute to whether or not they stay with your business in the long term.

So, get ahead of competitors and impress your new team members with a dynamic, thorough onboarding process. A great place to start is with an effective new hire training checklist. Let’s look at an example of one and all the essential onboarding steps you need to include.

Why is an employee onboarding checklist important?

Writing and using an employee onboarding checklist has many benefits for you, your new hires, and the rest of your staff members. Here are some of the most compelling reasons to have one:

  • New hire knows what to expect: Starting a new job can be a daunting experience. Your new hires will feel better when they know what their first few days and weeks will look like. That’s why welcome emails and confirmations about their pay, hours, and job offer are vital parts of any checklist.
  • Make sure you don’t miss anything: There are many components to the onboarding process. Putting together a checklist means it’s less likely you’ll forget something in the bustle of your new hire’s first week. For example, less exciting tasks like health and safety training might slip your mind but are essential for all employees to master.
  • Keep your onboarding process consistent. Small businesses are always going through shifts and changes, which can prevent you from giving all employees the same onboarding experience. But you should still strive to keep your onboarding process as consistent as possible. Staff members need to be on the same page when it comes to their day-to-day tasks and other duties, or your business won’t run smoothly.
  • Maintain compliance. It’s essential that your new hires submit certain forms and documents during the onboarding process. And if you miss or delay any of them — especially tax forms — you could end up getting fined. Listing all the documents that new employees need to fill out on your checklist can prevent this from happening.

New hire checklist template

Our new hire checklist is complete with all the essential steps and tasks you should go through for an effective onboarding experience. This template should work for most small businesses, but you may need to tweak some steps to suit your specific needs.

New hire checklist

Pre-arrival

  • Send the official job offer
  • Send a welcome message
  • Confirm the new hire’s start dates and availability
  • Perform a background check
  • Check the new hire’s preferred name
  • Send the new hire’s first schedule
  • Add the new hire to your schedule, timesheets, and payroll

Optional

  • Send the new hire an invitation to join your team app
  • Prepare the new hire’s workspace
  • Request uniform sizes and/or measurements
  • Arrange the new hire’s uniform and/or other accessories like name tags and aprons
  • Make adjustments for new hires with health conditions and/or special needs
  • Check which federal, state, and local laws may apply to the new hire
  • Send, collect, and store new hire documents
    • Employee contract
    • Signed application form
    • W4 (or W9 for contractors)
    • I9 form
    • State tax withholding form
    • Direct deposit form
    • Employee benefits forms
    • Company policies
    • Employee emergency contact information

First day

  • Have a casual introductory chat and answer questions
  • Give the new hire a tour of the workplace
  • Introduce the new hire to all team members currently on shift
  • Familiarize the new hire with your business policies and rules
  • Give the new hire their employee handbook and training materials
  • Conduct preliminary training
  • Have a staff lunch
  • Have the new hire shadow a more experienced employee
  • Check in at the end of the new hire’s first shift
  • Guide the new hire through the clocking out process
  • Store the new hire’s documents

First week

  • Perform daily check-ins
  • Introduce the new hire to all the other team members
  • Organize and encourage social events and activities
  • Request feedback on your onboarding process
  • Give feedback on your new hire’s progress
  • Conduct any other mandatory training
  • Health and safety
  • Fire
  • Software
  • Cybersecurity
  • Sexual harassment
  • Compliance and ethics

Optional

  • Leadership training
  • First aid
  • Industry-specific (e.g., food and hygiene)

First month

  • Perform weekly check-ins
  • Ask the rest of the team for feedback on the new hire
  • Conduct a progress review
  • Request additional feedback on your onboarding process
  • Introduce the new hire to your career development programs and resources
  • Walk the new hire through their first payroll and paycheck process

8 steps to include on your employee onboarding checklist

Now that you know what to include on your employee onboarding checklist, here’s a little more detail on what each step involves and why it’s important.

1. Agree on important details with the new hire

There’s a lot to do in the short window of time between making a job offer and having a new employee start work.

The first items on your checklist should be confirming your new hire’s start date, hourly rate, estimated hours per week, and schedule. Put all this in writing to avoid any disputes later on.

Reaching an agreement on details like working hours and pay before your new hire officially starts their position serves two purposes:

  • One is to reassure them that the job offer is official.
  • The other is to make sure you collect and record all the employee’s basic information in advance, so you have plenty of time for tasks like scheduling and preparing your onboarding paperwork.

You may also need to run an employment background check to confirm your new hire is who they claim to be. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has strict rules about how and when you can run background checks, which can differ between states. Check the guidelines for your local area and get permission from your new team member before you proceed.

2. Collect onboarding documents

Another essential step is collecting all your employee’s forms. In the United States, the government requires that new hires complete several documents as part of the onboarding process. They include:

  • The employee contract: This lays out the terms and conditions of your new hire’s employment, including the job description, pay, and hours.
  • The employment application form: This is the form we mentioned in step one that allows you to conduct background checks.
  • W-4 Form: This document determines the employee’s federal income tax withholding.
  • State W-4 Form: Also known as a state tax withholding certificate, this form determines state income tax withholding in applicable areas.
  • I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form: Completing the I-9 form verifies that an employee is eligible to work in the United States.
  • Direct deposit form: Grants you permission to transfer money to your employee’s bank account.

As most small businesses don’t have human resources departments, managing onboarding documents can be a time-consuming and stressful process that falls on owners and managers. That’s especially true when you’re hiring more than one person at once.

Consider HR software like Homebase to do the heavy lifting for you. With our employee onboarding tools, new hires can self-onboard before their first day of employment. The Homebase platform can send your new team members new hire packets that include all their necessary federal and state forms. Then, they can e-sign the documents before starting their new job.

3. Store all new hire paperwork securely

Federal labor laws state that you’re not only responsible for ensuring your employees complete their paperwork — you also need to store their documents correctly.

In most cases, the government won’t require you to submit any of your new hire forms, but you still have to keep them on hand. Failing to do so can lead to heavy penalties. You should also store new hire documents somewhere employees can access them easily.

Homebase can help with this step as well. After your new employee has e-signed all their documents, they get stored securely in the cloud for up to four years. During that time, employees can view or edit them via our app whenever they like.

4. Prepare your employee handbook

Employee handbooks are a great way to give new hires an early introduction to your company culture — when sent before their start date. And you can do that with Homebase’s employee onboarding feature.

Here are some examples of the information your employee handbook can include:

  • Your business mission and vision
  • Company policies like rules on dress code and mobile phone use
  • Safety and compliance information
  • Details about your products and services
  • All the different roles and responsibilities team members have within your business
  • Safety and compliance information
  • Your new hire training plan
  • Career development opportunities
  • Details about benefits packages

Reading your employee handbook should give team members a sense of your workplace and let them know what to expect. They should also be able to verify their specific responsibilities, schedule expectations, and compensation so they feel more informed and empowered to ask relevant questions on their first day.

5. Provide the training and orientation

When you hire a new employee, spend five minutes reviewing and updating your training checklist. It’s possible that your training requirements have changed since the last time you onboarded someone. You should also check what information your employees should know and which of their duties they should be able to perform autonomously by the end of their first day, week, and month.

One quick way to get new hires into the swing of things is to have them shadow a more experienced employee. So, be sure to check your schedule and see who might be available to help out beforehand. Your staff members may also be more comfortable being shadowed if they get plenty of warning.

Don’t forget about orientation, either. Give your new hires a guided tour of their workplace — even if it’s a small premises — so they feel confident and know where to find everything. Remember to go over small but necessary details like where the garbage cans, change rooms, staff bathrooms, and coat racks are.

6. Plan and encourage getting-to-know-you activities

Studies show that businesses and employees benefit from workplace friendships. In fact, team members who consider themselves friends are better informed about what’s happening at work, feel more satisfied with their jobs, and can better handle workplace stress.

All these advantages make it more likely that your employees will join and stay on your team. So, encouraging friendships between existing staff members and new hires can help your business with retention, too.

To start, arrange a welcome lunch or after-work drinks on a new hire’s first day. These events are excellent opportunities for everyone to get to know each other. Bonus: Team members may drop handy hints and tips about the job, like what certain customers prefer and which products sell best.

You should also personally welcome new hires with a friendly chat so they know you care about them as a person, not just an employee. This kind of gesture can help them develop a deeper connection with you and your business. But it doesn’t have to be a formal conversation — keep it light-hearted and casual.

7. Do weekly and monthly check-ins

Schedule check-ins with your employees to support them through any confusion or anxiety that might come up while they’re starting out with your business. Offering them resources or simply answering their questions will likely alleviate most of their concerns.

Arrange daily check-ins with new hires during their first week, as that’s when they’ll be most likely to need support. Then, you can drop that number down to weekly check-ins until the three-month mark. By that time, your new hire should feel confident and be almost as familiar with your business as your other staff.

8: Give feedback on your new hire’s progress

Include feedback sessions on your checklist to remind yourself to have regular progress reviews with your new team members. Feedback can help you to reinforce good performance and break bad habits before they start. And if your new hires have doubts about their abilities, feedback sessions are also an excellent opportunity to boost their confidence.

But great feedback goes beyond training. Studies show that managers who recognize and praise good performance have employees who are five times more engaged than those who don’t. And when you remind your staff members that their work supports their colleagues and creates a great customer experience, they’ll be more motivated to do their jobs well.

You can also request feedback from your new employees on your onboarding program. They may have some insights into what your business could do better or what they particularly enjoyed.

Breeze through your onboarding checklist with Homebase

The key to onboarding new hires effectively is streamlining as much of the process as possible. That way, you can focus your energy on welcoming your new staff and getting them acquainted with your business, rather than paperwork.

Homebase can help you tick all the boxes on your onboarding checklist in no time. Our onboarding solution lets you send your new hires all their paperwork before they even start work. Then, they can use our e-signature feature to sign all their documents and have everything stored securely in the cloud. You’ll only have to think about training and orienting your new staff so they get the best start possible in their job.

FAQs about new hire training checklists

What is the time frame for onboarding?

The time frame for onboarding depends on your industry. For example, some specialized work environments like construction or salons need to put their employees through a lot more training than restaurants, cafes, or shops would. But it’s typical for the onboarding process to take three months for small businesses. 

What is the key to a successful new hire onboarding process?

The key to a successful new hire onboarding process is the five Cs. They are:

  • Compliance: Educating new hires on business rules and policies.
  • Clarification: Making new hires aware of their role and responsibilities.
  • Culture: Sharing your objectives and values with your new hires.
  • Connection: Getting to know your new hires and introducing them to the rest of your team.
  • Checks: Keeping the lines of communication open so you can support your new hires and exchange feedback.

 

How can Homebase help with new hire training?

Homebase can help with new hire training by sending staff members employee handbooks, resources, and materials before they arrive for their first day of work. Our hiring and onboarding platform also takes care of collecting and storing onboarding documents, so you and your new team members will be free to focus on training and orientation. 

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