Prepare your New Hires to Thrive: The Onboarding Checklist to Success

Julie Checknita, Employer Services | October-05-11
New Hires


With all the time and dollars it takes to recruit and select that ‘perfect’ candidate, it is astounding to see that so many organizations fail to nurture the employer/employee relationship once the job offer has been accepted.

Because first impressions are so important, how you treat that impressionable new employee is critical.  Failure to properly onboard can be detrimental to a new employee’s attitude towards the company and often to the employee’s future performance. This path can ultimately lead to that ‘perfect’ new hire leaving for another opportunity.

So what can you do? Creating conditions that help new hires feel like a welcome part of your team, from day one, will increase the likelihood that the new hire forms a positive first impression on the organization.  Not sure where to start?  Take the following steps to assist that new hire make a smooth transition into your organization.

Pre-Employment – Important Steps to Take Before Your New Hire Arrives


  • Identify an onboarding partner for the new hire within your department and meet with him/her to discuss their role and some background on the new hire. This onboarding partner will be your new employee’s ‘go-to’ person throughout their first few weeks.

  • Arrange for a box of office start-up supplies for new employee to be delivered to their desk and ensure workspace is set-up.

  • Prepare an orientation schedule for the new hire’s first few days. Try to space out more mundane tasks such as reading and paperwork with more interactive tasks such as meetings and training.

  • Send out an e-mail to everyone in the office so they're prepared to welcome the new employee.

  • Set up the computer and configure the new employee's email accounts.

  • Provide guides and schedule training for any necessary software he or she will be using.

  • Set up his or her phone system, and provide instructions for using voicemail.

  • Make a list of key contacts that the new hire will be working with and set up short meet and greet meetings.

  • Put up a list of key documents in the new hires cubicle or office (organizational chart, contact list, office map, etc.).


Day 1-3 –  Important Steps to Take on Your New Hire’s First Few Days


  • Introduce the new employee to the rest of department and show employee where they will be sitting.

  • Introduce them to their assigned “onboarding partner” (pre-determined co-worker who offers advice and guidance throughout the introductory period and by doing so, helps the new employee integrate into the workplace with ease and confidence.) The onboarding partner can take him/her to lunch the first day, give him/her a guided  workplace tour, help him/her get to know others, and answer questions on all sorts of little things that come up.

  • Define the job accurately and completely, and be sure the employee understands their responsibilities. Although the employee may have seen a job description during the hiring process, it’s time to go over it in detail. What does it really mean and how does their position impact others?

  • Assign a manageable task within the first week to ensure they are not left doing nothing when there are gaps in the orientation.
    Help the new employee understand the companies unique culture. What’s the dress code? When and how do people take lunch and other breaks? When and how do they get together to meet or solve problems? How strict are policies? How involved are employees in company-sponsored athletic teams and events? Do people go out together after work?

  • Review the important policies (from the HR Manual) with each new employee to ensure understanding, answer any questions and explain how each policy is observed within your department’s work/team.

  • Introduce the new hire to any additional people he or she will be working with—inside and outside of the organization.
    Review the departmental reporting structure with the employee and how the team communicates (i.e. meetings, etc.).

  • Explain the new employee’s role in your department and in the company at large. Why is his/her work so important? What special contribution will he/she be making?

  • Explain what training and development will be available to help him or her master skills. (Then be sure the new hire gets that training, as soon as possible, and be prepared to do some coaching afterward, to confirm correct performance and correct what needs to be improved.)

  • Make performance standards clear, and let the employee know how his or her performance will be measured. Discuss any probationary review timing. Give feedback immediately on how he or she is doing: Better or faster than you expected? Good enough for now? When will the quantity or quality need to match that of other employees? Be observant, so you can “catch” the new employee doing something right and comment on it, specifically! Positive feedback is a very powerful tool to motivate and reinforce; it trains the employee to give you more of the behavior you’re looking for.


Need more guidance? Check out ECO Canada’s Complete Onboarding Package: How to Successfully Onboard New Employees found in the template section of the HR Centre. This package contains a more detailed checklist, guidelines, tips and helpful templates to help you throughout the important first few weeks of your new employee’s service.


Have any other onboarding tips or suggestions? Any great or horrible first week experiences? We would love to hear from you!