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Review this New Hire Checklist to Help Streamline the Onboarding Process

A thorough new hire checklist — including required forms and optional documents, detailed to-do items, and other logistical tasks — is a must-have in today's work environment. Use this one to help keep your new hire's onboarding process on track.
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A thorough new hire checklist as part of the onboarding process is a must-have in today's work environment, particularly since the job market has become increasingly competitive. A solid process can help your new employee get off to the right start and feel confident in their decision to join your organization.

Create and improve your process

Companies of every size can benefit from a formal, well-planned onboarding process. But the sheer volume of new hire paperwork alone can be overwhelming to keep track of and get through. Consider creating a comprehensive new hire checklist that covers a full range of topics, including milestones for individual progress that can begin even before a new hire's first day on the job.

Before the first day

Some of the onboarding process can be completed before Day 1. Take advantage of the fact that there’s often a gap between when an employee accepts an offer and when they start working at the office. When using onboarding software, new employees can review supplied resources as well as read and sign important documents. Since much of the paperwork will have been completed, employees can look forward to a productive first day where they can focus on beginning their job. However, keep wage and hour laws in mind; the time spent reviewing this material or completing forms may be compensable under federal, state, and/or local law.

Required forms

Though the required forms may vary from company to company due to regulations, industry and company benefits, and policies, certain documents are completed by new hires in nearly all circumstances. These include:

W-4 Federal Withholding form to outline the amount of taxes to be withheld from wages. You can find the most recent version of this form on the IRS website.

Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification to establish the employee's eligibility to work in the U.S. This form is updated periodically, so make sure you are using the most current I-9, which can be found on the USCIS website.

State tax withholding forms may need to be completed, depending on the state. Check your state government website to find the correct versions of tax forms.

Employers should ensure that all required new hire forms are completed as part of the onboarding process.

Optional documents

Although not required by law, the following documents are ones that some employers choose to have new employees complete:

Non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement, depending on the nature of your business, the location of the business, and the employee’s position. This document should be reviewed by legal counsel and can help ensure confidentiality, as well as formally notify employees that business-related products and intellectual property belong to the company.

Non-compete contract is between an employee and an employer, where the employee agrees not to enter into competition with the employer or work for a direct competitor for a period of time after the employee terminates leaves or is terminated. This document should also be reviewed by legal counsel.

Emergency contact information in the event of an employee’s injury, medical crisis, or some other unforeseen situation.

Signed acknowledgment of the employee handbook and policies. This certifies that your new employee fully understands your company's policies and procedures, and agrees to abide by them.

An important note in the case of forms and documents: some states may have their own new hire requirements including but not limited to: paid sick leave notifications, wage theft prevention notices, unemployment notices, sexual harassment pamphlets, worker’s compensations pamphlets, and other notices.

Logistical tasks

Workstation items:

☐ Desk or office space stocked with standard office supplies

☐ Computer and printer access

☐ Desk phone and/or cell phone

☐ System access to necessary networks with usernames and passwords

☐ Access badge

On the first day

A new hire often experiences a whirlwind of information and new surroundings. It can be a stressful and anxious time. Assigning a mentor or work partner is an effective way to help a new hire get the most out of the onboarding process. This mentor can help make the new employee’s transition less stressful by being a go-to resource for questions, offering advice, and serving as a familiar face.

The first day is also a great time to set milestones for their progress through the remainder of the onboarding process.

Milestone items:

☐ Training schedule

☐ Set meetings with key team members for the coming weeks

☐ Review company history, vision, and mission

☐ Overview of cultural norms and expectations

☐ Discuss brand, brand promise, and what sets you apart from the competition

Job-related items:

☐ Review specific job duties

☐ Introduction to the team and managers

☐ Job-related tasks to work on during the first week on the job

Onboarding is a process

Companies may make the mistake of treating the onboarding process as a one-time event. But a solid onboarding process incorporates both tactical items and a more comprehensive approach that can expand over the course of several months. The goal is to integrate your new hire into your workplace and help them become part of the team.

You may also want to seek feedback on your onboarding process. It's an opportunity to learn from new hires what went well and where there are areas for improvement. Use this feedback to help you improve processes in the future.

While the prospect of completing numerous new hire onboarding tasks may inspire more exhaustion than enthusiasm, the importance of this time can’t be understated. Consider the benefits of using an onboarding system to help make the process easier for you and new employees.

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