The Employee On-boarding Checklist

Ever started a new job? Being in a new place & surrounded by all those new people, how did you feel? Did the narrative in your head go like this…

“I’m not sure what to expect and if I’ll succeed. Will I embarrass myself? Will I be able to do it? What will others think of me? What if they don’t like me? I really don’t know how things are done around here… I’m on probation and if I mess up they’ll fire me, I should have stayed at my old job!”

What did the organisation in question do to ease your fears?

On boarding refers to the process through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and “insiders”. On boarding tells your new employee about your organizational brand and values, explains your people and professional culture, informs the employee about performance expectations and provides the employee with tools for a successful integration into the organisation. 

What is the difference between Orientation (Induction) and On-boarding?

Orientation is an event, on-boarding is a process.

The major differences between these two can be found in the table below;


A sound on-boarding process spans 6 months to 1 year and includes constant communication, feedback, and performance measurement. On-boarding is not a solely an HR function but an organisational function that requires commitment from numerous individuals.   

Why should organisations invest in On-boarding 


If you don’t have a successful on-boarding process, there is a high probability that you are losing employees due to non-engagement.

The first 90 days are the right time to introduce hires to new colleagues, share with them your expectations, and help them to understand the specific values your company espouses. Do you value work ethic above all else? Now’s the time to drive that point home. Does excuse-making set your teeth on edge? If so, tell them. It will create more transparency around how they (and you) work.



On-boarding Checklist

For a more detailed checklist download your own employee on-boarding sample checklist below at the bottom of this page. 

1. Before Employees Start Date – Ensure that all necessary requirements are available for the new employee to feel settled (in so far as this is feasible) on the first day. 

  • Call employee:
    • Confirm start date, time, place, parking, dress code, etc.
    • Inform employee of all documentation they are required to come with.
  • Identify computer, stationary and furniture requirements.
  • Decide and approve on ‘on-boarding buddy.’
  • Arrange pertinent training required for the job.
  • Prepare employee’s calendar for the first two weeks.
  • Plan the employee’s first assignment.

2. First Day – Ensure that the employee feels welcomed and has an understanding of the position, how it contributes to the work unit (department) and eventually the organisation. The employee should also have a rudimentary understanding of the organisations performance expectations of them. 

  • Put together welcome packet from the department and include: job description, welcome letter, contracts, relevant company manuals, contact names and phone lists, parking and transportation information, mission, vision, and values of the organization, staff manual, code of conduct, etc.
  • Clarify the first week’s schedule, and confirm required and recommended training.
  • Provide an overview of the functional area – its purpose, organizational structure, and goals.
  • Review job description, outline of duties, and expectations; and all other documents in employee packet.
  • Describe how employee’s job fits in the department, and how the job and department contribute to the organization as a whole.
  • Review hours of work. Explain policies and procedures for overtime, use of vacation and sick time, holidays, etc. Explain any flexible work policies or procedures.
  • Describe salary/payment method; how and when these are made. Obtain necessary bank details from employee if necessary.

3. First Week – By this time the new employee should be building on their knowledge of the organisations internal processes and should begin acting on their performance expectations. 

  • Give employee his/her initial assignment. (Make it something small and doable.)
  • Debrief with employee after he/she attends initial meetings, attends training, and begins work on initial assignment. Also touch base quickly each day.
  • Provide additional contextual information about the department and organization to increase understanding of the purpose, values, goals, and initiatives of the organization.
  • Explain the annual performance review and goal-setting process.
  • Review the process related to the probationary period.

4. First Month – The employee should be building relationships in the organisation and continuing to develop their skills and learn about the organization. 

  • Schedule and conduct regularly occurring one-on-one meetings.
  • Continue to provide timely, on-going, meaningful “everyday feedback.”
  • Elicit feedback from the employee and be available to answer questions.
  • Explain the performance management process and compensation system.
  • Discuss performance and professional development goals. Give employee an additional assignments.

5. First Three Months –  At this juncture the employee is becoming fully aware of his/her role and responsibilities, beginning to work independently and produce meaningful work. He/she will continue to acclimate to the environment, both functionally and socially.

  • Continue having regularly occurring one-on-one meetings.
  • Meet for informal three-month performance check-in.
  • Continue giving employee assignments that are challenging yet doable.
  • Create written performance goals and professional development goals.
  • Discuss appropriate flexible work options.
  • If the employees’ probation period is three months, assess employees’ performance.

6. First Six Months –  If the above processes have been adequately implemented, by month six, the employee should have gained momentum in producing deliverables, begun to take the lead on some initiatives, and built some relationships with peers as go-to partners. The employee should feel confident and engaged in new role while continuing to learn.

  • Conduct six-month performance review.
  • Review progress on performance goals and professional development goals.

7. First Year – Having fully utilized best practice in on-boarding, the employee should be  fully engaged in  the new role; applies skills and knowledge, makes sound decisions, contributes to team goals, understands how his/her assignments affect others in the organization, and develops effective working relationships. He/she has a strong understanding of organization’s mission and culture. The employee should continue to be engaged in his/her role and continued to gain greater confidence in the position; by taking on additional assignments and works with a high level of autonomy.

It should be noted that this checklist is not set in stone & can be adapted to organizational requirements. For example, if you are hiring a casual worker for 1 month it would be ineffective and inefficient to spend 2 weeks acclimatizing them to the environment. On-boarding procedures should also take into account organizational size and structure. It is also prudent to note that HR functions intersect, thus recruitment is quite paramount to the on-boarding process. Organisations need to bring in the right talent from the very beginning to ensure that all other functions, including on-boarding are successful. 


For a more detailed checklist download your own employee on-boarding sample checklist below.

Musonda Speaks HR Onboarding Checklist DOC

Musonda Speaks HR Onboarding Checklist PDF


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