Written by Chris Russell
27th May, 2021
The Importance of an Employee Onboarding Checklist
Next to making a great hire, onboarding them is the most important part of recruiting. Unfortunately, it’s also the part with so many pieces that without an employee onboarding checklist, it’s easy to miss a step, forget a detail, or, in the worst case, ignore it altogether until the new hire walks in the door.
Onboarding is where a company makes a lasting impression on the new employee. Yet too many employers leave the process to chance, then wonder why the hire they had such high hopes for quit after just a few weeks or even days.
The Internet is alive with onboarding horror stories: New hires no one was expecting or who had no desk, chair, computer or phone when they arrived. Workers scheduled for training on the day the trainer was off. New employees who were never told when to start and others who were sent to the wrong location.
An employee onboarding checklist can prevent mistakes like these from happening. A comprehensive onboarding checklist that details every one of the steps will go far to ensuring the company puts its best foot forward in making the new employee feel welcome.
Before digging into the specifics of what an onboarding checklist should include, it’s important to know the difference between onboarding and orientation. The latter is part of onboarding, but it’s the part than can mostly be handled before the new hire’s first day.
Orientation is the paperwork part of onboarding, including completing I-9s, W-4 s and benefits, arranging employee identification and contact information, and delivering the company handbook spelling out policies and procedures.
Increasingly, companies are handling this digitally, though some mail out hardcopies to be signed and returned.
Beyond the paperwork, onboarding should be thought of as a strategic process that introduces them to the company culture and helps them become comfortable with their new colleagues so they’ll become an engaged, productive member of the team.
Companies that think this way will assign a company email and login so the new hire can begin to become part of their new team even before their official start.
More and more, these companies also see the value of extending onboarding beyond the traditional few days or weeks to several months and up to a year.
Whatever your program, an employee onboarding checklist is crucial to success. Besides ensuring all the bases are covered and no detail is overlooked, it spells out who in the organization is responsible for each item and when the task is due.
The nature of your business will dictate how many versions of the onboarding checklist you need. A company with a variety of jobs and a mix of hourly and salaried employees may have several different checklists, each differing only when it comes to the specifics of the job.
Regardless of industry, all employee onboarding checklists should cover every detail from the forms required by law and by the company to the specifics of the job and the arrangements for the worker’s first day and week.
A good onboarding checklist doesn’t just say “forms.” It lists each one required of the employee. It’s not enough to simply say “first day.” A checklist should list every specific element of what will occur that day, from the front door greeting to the office tour to introductions, lunch, and, of course, all the necessary set-up for where the employee will actually be assigned.
Creating an employee onboarding checklist may seem like a lot of work, and it is. Listing each and every detail may even seem obsessive. It should and probably is.
However, you only need to do it once. And if it keeps that great new hire from being one of the 25% to 30% of workers who quit in the first few months, then the effort will be well worth it.