Want to improve onboarding? Use a new hire onboarding checklist
Instructional Design

Want to improve onboarding? Use a new hire onboarding checklist

, Former Content Marketing Manager

Onboarding creates a foundation for the employee experience. And it sets the tone for your future relationship with your new hires. Get it right, and you’ll reap the rewards.

According to recent research from TalentLMS and BambooHR, 67% of Gen Z employees agree that onboarding made them feel welcome and valued in their new company. And 62% said that onboarding has reduced their anxiety as new employees.

Get it wrong, and you’ll risk losing your new hire. Which means having to invest more money recruiting and retraining their replacement. Not to mention the price you pay for damaging your brand and reputation. (Deliver a poor onboarding experience, for instance, and over half of your employees will see it as a reflection of your organization.)

That said, despite it being a proven and obvious win-win, poor onboarding is still relatively common. In fact, according to Gallup, 88% of organizations get it wrong. Why? Well, designing and delivering great onboarding takes organization and commitment. And, through no fault of their own, not every company has the infrastructure or processes in place to do it justice.

Yes, an enterprise organization experiencing continued fast growth will have dedicated teams whose sole purpose is to manage onboarding and new employee orientation. The same goes for big businesses with regular high turnover.

But many companies won’t recognize the importance of onboarding. Or have the luxury of specialists. Balancing peaks and troughs of hiring, onboarding isn’t something all HR teams do regularly. And, juggling it alongside other tasks, the process will be unfamiliar and inefficient.

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One way of helping organizations nail onboarding is to use a new hire onboarding checklist.

In this article, we look at what makes a great new hire onboarding checklist. And provide a new hire onboarding template your HR professionals, hiring managers, and team leaders can adapt and use to manage your own process.

First off, though, let’s explore the rationale behind using a new hire onboarding checklist in this context.

Key reasons why you should use an onboarding checklist

Practically everyone loves a checklist. A rundown of tasks with deadlines or time frames, they’re useful in any setting, personal and professional. And can work with almost any process, activity, or industry. But how, specifically, can they help with onboarding? Here are the key benefits:

  • Aids clarity: Onboarding isn’t a one-person job. It involves different people at different stages. Using an onboarding checklist, everyone knows what to do and when.
  • Provides consistency: Every new hire should receive the same level of attention and detail when they start a new job. A new hire onboarding checklist promotes a consistent onboarding experience for all employees. Plus, areas for improvement are easier to spot.
  • Delivers confidence: Not everyone involved in onboarding will be an expert in the process. Having a guide aids understanding, provides context, and helps all participants feel confident in their roles.
  • Instills calm: With a plan, onboarding has structure, pace, and precision. Considered and well-thought-through, it means you won’t end up rushing the process or causing unnecessary panic.
  • Guarantees compliance: Having a detailed list to refer to and tick off means you can be confident that internal protocols and the legally-required aspects of making a new hire have been covered.
  • Adds value: Of course, effective onboarding is more than just policies and paperwork, form filling, and cybersecurity training. It’s about creating engagement, understanding, and an emotional connection with your new hires. Providing an at-a-glance overview, a checklist can be used to run a temperature check on your onboarding program. Are there enough opportunities for new hires to learn about culture, vision, mission, and values? Using a new hire checklist, you can check the balance of content. And pinpoint any gaps.
  • Creates resilience: Transparency makes businesses and processes more resilient. With all stakeholders working with one detailed, centralized onboarding checklist, everyone can see what needs doing and when. This means anyone in your HR team can step in and pick up the tasks at any stage.
  • Drives efficiencies: Transparency also makes businesses and processes more efficient. Eliminating duplication of work, an onboarding checklist ensures that none of your team is wasting time on tasks that have already been completed.
  • Minimizes mistakes: With assigned responsibilities, a clear timeline, and detailed tasks all recorded in a checklist, errors, omissions, and inaccuracies in the onboarding process are significantly reduced.
  • Generates a buzz: True, onboarding extends beyond a new hire’s first week in the post. But with many of the key activities centered on the period leading up to this point, a new hire onboarding checklist also acts like a countdown. Sent in advance to new hires, it’s a great way to create a sense of pace, excitement, and motivation internally and externally.
  • Offers reassurance: Starting a new job can be daunting. Providing new hires with a comprehensive checklist reminds them that there’s a supportive process in place to help them achieve their best. And a comprehensive training program to guide them through any periods of uncertainty.
  • Elevates the experience: The combined effect of all of these positive outcomes (from consistency and balance to accuracy, enrichment, and support) is a better, more cohesive experience for your new hires.

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How to use a new hire onboarding checklist

Producing a new hire onboarding checklist is one thing, putting it to good use is another. Here are a few things to consider when working out how to optimize your guide.


Who needs access to your checklist? At the very least, all of those who have a stake in the onboarding process will need to be able to view and tick off items within the document. So, that means anyone with a task. And anyone with an active interest in the new hire and the outcome. In most instances this will include:

  • Your HR team
  • Recruiters
  • Hiring managers
  • Team managers
  • Training managers
  • Departmental trainers in Facilities, IT, and Compliance
  • Your new hire. (They won’t, of course, require the complete checklist–you want to support them through the process, not scare them off by it! But rather a paired-down version that lists everything they need to complete or tick off.)


For your checklist to work, there should only be one version for each new hire. This means saving it centrally in a location all your stakeholders can access. This could be in a shared drive, a Cloud storage site, a project management app, or inside your HRIS if you have one. Consider adding a password-protection feature if it’s saved somewhere unauthorized users could access it.

Of course, you can also save a sample template of your onboarding checklist on the HR section on your intranet. This gives all employees an idea of what onboarding involves and your company’s approach.

Tip: Create a standardized naming format for each individual checklist. For example, ‘[Employee name] onboarding checklist.’ This will make them easier to locate and track.

Want to improve onboarding? Use a new hire onboarding checklist


Yes, different people will need access to your checklist. But most will only have a few isolated tasks to complete. And won’t feel any sense of overall responsibility. To make sure your checklist delivers what it sets out to do, someone needs to take ownership. In most cases, it will fall to one designated person or subsection of your HR team to monitor and manage the progress of tasks on the checklist. And to ensure that actions are completed on time and marked off on the list. But don’t take this for granted. So make sure responsibility is clearly assigned and communicated.


In most instances, the only information you’ll need to add to your onboarding checklist template will be the details of the new hire. So, that’s the employee name, staff number (if they have one), and start date.

But some tasks may not apply to all new hires. For example, remote employees or boomerang workers will need slightly different checklists. There may even be certain roles that demand enhanced onboarding. So it pays to review the list and add, remove, or amend actions as required.

Get your new hire onboarding checklist templates

Every business has its own unique processes, systems, and culture. And your employee onboarding checklist needs to reflect this. But having a template to work from gives you a big head start. To help ease the pressure on your teams, we’ve produced a series of new hire onboarding checklists you can download, save, and use to onboard new hires.

They start with the crucial stage of preboarding, which is when most of your new hire’s impressions will be formed. And they go to the end of the third month when your new hire’s probationary period is likely to end. Customize them as you need to. Then save using the new hire’s full name and start date.

Tip: There’s a column for remote workers on each checklist. This highlights where the process may differ for new hires not based in the office. And provides tips on how to make alternative provisions.


Between accepting a job offer and starting the job, a well-planned preboarding strategy is essential for new employees. During this time, you help new hires feel part of the team while maintaining enthusiasm, productivity, and longevity. A preboarding new hire checklist will assist you in having a clear idea of which steps you need to follow.

Preboarding new hire onboarding checklist

Click here to download the full new hire onboarding checklist.

Day one

The orientation (or induction) of your new hire begins the moment they start working for your company. And the first day at work is extremely important for a seamless new hire onboarding experience. It helps newcomers acclimate to your office culture, values, processes, and teams. With a new hire onboarding checklist, you ensure you haven’t missed any crucial steps along the way.

day one new hire onboarding checklist

Click here to download the full new hire onboarding checklist.

Week one

It’s essential to make sure your new hire has fully committed to their new work environment. Change can be challenging and stressful while navigating a new workplace. Thus, you should follow a week-one new hire onboarding checklist so that you emphasize to your new hire they belong in your organization and keep them engaged. Some key steps in the first week are adding them to any relevant internal messaging groups, schedule 1:1 sessions with management, and more.

week one new hire onboarding checklist

Click here to download the full new hire onboarding checklist.

First three months

During the first three months of the onboarding period, new employees learn as much as possible about their job responsibilities, your organization’s values, culture, products, or services, the company’s team structure, and more. So, when the three-month period is completed, it’s necessary that you check with the help of a new hire onboarding checklist whether new hires have completed their training and have assimilated the knowledge they need to kickstart their new role.

three months new hire onboarding checklist

Download our new hire onboarding checklist
Make sure you welcome your new hires with a comprehensive to-do list.Grab your copy

Just the start

The message around onboarding is clear. Creating and delivering an effective new hire experience results in a good ROI. It sets new employees (and your business) up for success. It creates strong and positive memories. And it delivers an excellent first impression that lasts well into a new hire’s tenure. Plus, it’s easier to manage and perfect with the right resources. So make sure to get help where you can. Use free new hire onboarding checklists and templates, combined with easy-to-use onboarding training software, to turbo-boost your process–whatever the size and scale of your operation.

But remember, the work doesn’t end there. It’s important to evaluate the success of your onboarding program and make changes based on the feedback you receive. And keep an eye on emerging onboarding trends.

That way, the experience your offer will keep getting better. Which after all we’ve learned about onboarding, it will definitely be time well spent.

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Christina Pavlou - Former Content Marketing Manager

Christina, ex-Content Marketing Manager at Epignosis, focuses on L&D, diversity, and enhancing workplace well-being. Learn how to improve your work environment. More by Christina!

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