Your ‘gets to the point’ employee onboarding checklist (updated for 2022)

October 8, 2020
June 26, 2023
Employee Onboarding

A lot of onboarding checklists feel longer than the process itself, breaking down each day and week into great detail. The thing is, you’ve got people to onboard and that makes your time precious, so you don’t need us dragging this out with onboarding definitions, benefits and all that jazz.

Sure, you probably shouldn’t arrange the welcome call for week four, but beyond the obvious, onboarding timelines should be dictated by your company culture, the size of your teams and the specifics of that role. We’ll break our employee onboarding process and checklist into pre-boarding and settling in, instead.

Why is a structured onboarding process important?

It’s easy to shrug off the importance of creating an onboarding checklist or structure, presuming people’s friendliness will make people feel at home and they’ll pick up the key information about their role as they do it. But that’s a naive pitfall a lot of companies fall into, here are three onboarding statistics that might surprise you:

  • New employees who went through a structured onboarding process were 58% more likely to be with the organisation after three years. (The Wynhurst Group).
  • Organisations with a strong onboarding process see notable improvements in new hire retention (82%) and productivity (70%). (Brandon Hall Group).
  • 86% of employees decide whether they will stay with a company long-term in the first six months. (Aberdeen Group).

The beauty of creating an onboarding checklist is that it forces you to think about everything that should be covered, meaning that nothing gets overlooked. If you do it each time a new person joins, you’re creating personalised onboarding programs where people receive all killer and no filler, meaning they’ll only spend time on things that matter in their early period with the company.


It sounds like something you’d do before hopping on a plane, so perhaps that travel industry is a good place for inspiration. Airlines get in touch regularly, send you the links and documents to make checking in easy, and they’re available for questions before your flight. Apply these principles to your onboarding checklist and it will feel like a seriously smooth take-off.

A warm welcome email

This is not the time for information overload, but an opportunity to say a friendly hello and confirm any of the key details, such as start date and time. It’s always helpful to remind somebody that you’re happy to have them joining the team and open the communication channel for any future questions. That’s how you set the tone for a warm and welcoming onboarding process.

Send useful resources

If that welcome email hasn’t opened the conversational floodgates, sending helpful documents is a great way to touch base. Think along the lines of employee handbook or dress code, it’s not vital but it can help quell those first-day nerves. Underdressed or overdressed, that’s a dilemma nobody wants to face.

Complete the forms and paperwork

Nobody’s first day should feel like a book signing! If there are signatures you can collect and forms you can complete in advance, you’ll prevent a deluge of tick boxes and autographs hitting them on day one.  

Set them up on your payroll

There’s no casual way for a new joiner to drop in whether they’re set up to get paid accurately and on time, which can be a nagging doubt at the back of their mind. Tackle this early, put their mind at ease, and answer the question before it’s even asked.

Create their internal email

It might seem obvious, but the sooner you do this, the sooner managers and colleagues can welcome new joiners, you can send the login details for any platforms they’ll be using, and generally prepare the inbox so it’s filled with the right information from their first minute.

Create a schedule and arrange meetings for the first week or two

There’s something reassuring about knowing the plan for your first week or two, it’s a comfort during a period where so much is new and uncertain. Just make sure you plan some time between meetings for them to process everything and schedule a few slots for you to catch up.

Introduce them to the rest of your team

Sending an email that introduces the new employee is the difference between them having to explain what they’ll be doing at the company and their colleagues already being aware of their role, team, experiences and interests. Essentially, this frees them up to ask better bonding questions or strike more interesting conversations during early parts of the onboarding process.  

Set up their workstation and equipment

Last but not least, it’s pretty much the golden rule that their workstation and equipment is ready to go when they set foot in the door. Ensure you’re not falling at the final onboarding checklist hurdle!

Updated pre-boarding ideas for 2022 (and beyond)

We wrote this back in 2020, when the remote and hybrid approach really hadn’t been formalised or perfected. So, while the above principles do apply to 2022 (and beyond) onboarding – in person, remote and hybrid – here are some things we’ve learnt since. Do these before someone joins and you’ll increase those chances of hitting the ground running.

Give people access to a central, self-service place for resources

In 2022, 56% of employees stated that they’d been unable to locate digital documents while working remotely. And if you’re lacking a central place for resources, you’re not going to make that problem any better – for anyone! New employees, especially those working remotely, will struggle to progress, ramp up solve problems as they arise without a self-service element to their onboarding journey.

Make the compensation, work flexibility and career development opportunities clear from the off

Don’t be offended if a new employee’s priority isn’t making friends – we’re just not in that world right now. In the hybrid and remote era, people want to know whether they’ll be paid fairly, trusted to work in the ways they feel work best and if there’s room to grow. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t facilitate relationships, it just means other things are perceived to be more important.

Only 11% of employees rank relationships with managers and co-workers as top factors in job satisfaction

Source: Capterra

Set clear feedback channels from the get-go

We all know that the quality of someone’s onboarding experience influences how long they’ll stay at the company. Well, recent research has shown that 67% of employees would be more likely to stay if employers listened and made changes based on their feedback.

Opening a clear channel for communication and feedback before someone’s first day is a great way to make them feel heard. Just make sure you’re actioning that and communicating how:

85% of HR staff think they are using employee feedback to improve the experience they offer. Yet only half (50%) of staff agree…

An employee onboarding checklist that gets to the point

The settling-in period: day one and beyond

By now, you’ve set the foundations for a great welcome – it’s time to seal the deal by delivering on everything you’ve offered and promised so far! Your onboarding checklist needs to ensure people feel welcome and capable in the first few months.

The office tour

This should always start with you welcoming them in reception, showing them to their desk so they can ditch their belongings and offering them something to drink⁠—this is their first impression as a company employee.


You’ll encounter plenty of people as you make the infamous department to department voyage, so just keep it brief and ensure they’re formally introduced to all the key leaders and teammates.

Sign any remaining paperwork

If there’s anything that can’t be signed in advance, this is your friendly reminder to get that sorted.

Explain the benefits and policies

Discounts, incentive schemes, travel loans, there are plenty of benefits that employees can enjoy during the onboarding process, so it’s useful to cover these early on. The same applies to any company policies, but they just didn’t seem as exciting from an employee perspective.

Touch base on the expectations

Clearly communicating expectations and setting short-term goals together is vital to ensuring you’re on the same page, especially given the impact it has on employee ambitions and satisfaction.

Connect them with the right resources and people

This is a big one! Do they have access to the resources they need? Do they understand the workflow and the best people to pose their questions to within it? Knowing this information is key to productivity, output and satisfaction.

If they can find them in the same place, even better! HowNow connects your employees with the knowledge they need, from the best in your business, everywhere they already work. Or where they will be working once they’ve settled in, at least.

Schedule regular check-ins

It’s important to set up regular touchpoints throughout the onboarding process, creating opportunities to discuss the above and how they’re settling in. You might want to get creative with these, show them the local area as you discuss their progress, take them to your favourite coffee shop for a chat, it doesn’t always need to be formal.

Get social

If you hadn’t noticed, we’re pretty keen on making sure your employees connect with people in their teams and beyond. So, of course, we’re including a social event in the onboarding checklist. A chance to meet more new people and discuss things outside of work, sign us up!

Collect feedback

Formally or informally, you should be collecting feedback at various stages of the first three months, followed by some kind of structured feedback process when the onboarding process comes to an end.

Download your PDF version of the new employee onboarding checklist

We’d love to have you on board, because we’re sure we can help you streamline your employee onboarding process! Whether that’s by automating content delivery to new staff, creating custom courses for them or providing detailed analytics on their skills and learning. The good news is that you can book a demo or trial in just a few clicks.

Check out our other employee onboarding resources