Onboarding Checklist

We all know that first impressions are important, so the question is – what first impression are you giving your new hires? The below checklist is a starting point to help you determine how strong your onboarding plan is. I use the below framework with clients, and while no strategy checks every box, if you have a strong onboarding plan, you should hit at least 80% of these both overall and within each section. 

Feeling overwhelmed? If your organization has very few of these things, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are my First Three – the first three things you need for effective onboarding.


1. On Day 1, staff have the resources and space they need to do their job. This includes technology, a desk, and access to typical office supplies.


2. Individual teams and managers create a welcoming and inclusive environment for new hires. What actually happens on day one will depend on your culture, but make sure new team members have a chance to socialize, meet others, and bond. 


3. All mandatory paperwork is completed on or before a new employee’s first day. While this one should seem obvious, I’ve learned it’s…not? All legal paperwork should be completed. Background checks, done. Fingerprinting, done. All. the. things. They should be done! 

Ideal State

Vision, Goals & Strategy

  • Goals are aligned to overall talent philosophy and vision
  • Historical data and feedback from new hires is used to set goals and address previous pain points
  • Leadership and relevant teams buy-in to goals and played a role in developing goals (if relevant for their role)
  • Clear strategy is in place to achieve goals; includes specific tactics, milestones, metrics, and owners

enabling Structures & mindsets

  • Managers believe successfully onboarding their team members is critical to the long-term success of the individual employee and their overall team culture
  • Staff create a welcoming environment for new hires that allow new team members to quickly and seamlessly integrate into the organization’s fabric and day-to-day operations

Process, Systems & Tools

  • Supporting functions (IT, HR, Finance, etc.) have standardized and easy processes to outfit new hires with the necessary tools and resources needed to do their jobs on Day 1. 
  • There is a system in place (HRIS) to ensure all legal documents are completed and securely stored
  • Managers have a guide or checklist to follow to ensure all paperwork, supply ordering, and other urgent preparation tasks have been completed in order for the new hire to start
  • There is a way to collect formal and informal feedback/data from new hires to gauge what additional support they need

Manager Training & Execution

  • Managers receive training and coaching on how to: 
            • create a positive day 1, week 1, month 1 environment for new hires
            • check-in with new hires to give and receive feedback
            • effectively train new hires
  • Managers regularly communicate with new hires between offer acceptance and start date

Staff Training & communication

  • Staff receive communications when a new hire starts
  • Staff have an opportunity to meet and socialize with new hires in their department/team in the first week
  • Staff understand their role and expectations in training and/or welcoming a new hire to their team
  • Orientation is provided to introduce new hires to the foundational aspects of the organization


  • Data collected from new hires is analyzed for trends across lines of race, gender, age/tenure, disability, and any other demographic collected by the org
  • Discrepancies discovered through the above data review are addressed

Impact & results

  • >X% of staff report a positive experience starting their role
  • >X% of staff report having the training, tools, and resources needed to be successful in their role when they started
  • % of departures within the first year decreases (or sustains at the intended goal)

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