Four key dates you need to cover in your onboarding process

Onboarding checklist
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Your newest hires have signed their contracts, sent in their payroll forms, and you've confirmed their schedules for the upcoming first day at the office. Isn't it time to relax and go back to vetting new candidates for other open positions or take an extra-long coffee break? Probably not.  

HR's job starts way before new hires' first day and is far from over after the first week. According to Aberdeen Group 90% of employees decide whether to stay or leave during their first year in a new company. It is now up to the organization to ensure employee retention and provide the framework for consistent feedback and development mechanisms.

If your company is on a hiring spree, or perhaps your HR resources are already overstretched, it is understandable that you won't be able to keep every new hire's progress in mind. The start dates, training activities and orientation packages should vary from one new hire to another, making it a tough task to keep track of everything that needs to happen. From setting performance objectives to career counselling - every new hire requires guidance throughout their first year.

To assist you in creating a structured development plan beyond the initial onboarding steps, we have put together a ready-made New Hire Milestones Checklist, highlighting the most important dates on your calendar. Read on for the full action plan or download the PDF to take with you!

  • Pre-boarding: Things to prepare before your new hire starts
  • The First Week Focus: Make sure you organize the orientation activities that really matter
  • Follow- up ideas: The 1, 3, 6 month and annual milestones
  • Extras: Advice on going the extra mile and making a lasting postive impact on each new team member

Become an Onboarding Strategy Star by following our feedback and follow-up tips, ensuring employee progress and satisfaction from day 1.

Pre-boarding: calm their fears & keep them excited

What happens before anything happens? Use this checklist to be sure you haven’t forgotten about the details, and your new employees’ worries have been fully addressed without them having to ask.

Essential agenda:

  • Contracts and paperwork signed
  • Non-disclosure agreement read and signed
  • Payroll documentation and processes explained
  • Visas, passport details and eligibility to work confirmed (if applicable)
  • Vacations and sick day policy explained
  • Insurance, financial benefits, pension schemes and relocation support outlined
  • Email and IT access requested and ready
  • Company dress code explained
  • Work station arranged
  • Contact details for their first point of contact on Day 1 provided
  • Login credentials for any company services or software requested and ready: e.g. CRMs, Intranet, Intercom and any other applicable systems
  • Create a schedule for their first day

Strategy star extras:

  • Introduce the new hire to the team before their first day
  • Have the team welcome the new hire
  • Explain the company’s mission and culture
  • Share stories of your organization’s founding and goals
  • Connect the new hire with their mentor or mentees
  • Share an office plan beforehand - bonus points for a 3D video
  • Set up an informal hello breakfast or lunch for the new hire’s team
  • Book their first meetings with management or other key people
  • Birthday or other holiday greeting before they start (if happens during that time)
  • Send them an “ambassador pack” with their business cards or other brand material to share with their network

Day one: the wow factor

Not only does the first day on the job set the tone for your employees’ new chapter in life, but it will also either confirm their worst fears or reassure them that they had made the right decision by joining your company. So plan this day well and make it count!

Essential agenda:

  • A welcome note/sign/balloon and company swag at their desk
  • Notify the whole department, division (or company even) knows a new employee is joining the team today… and don’t forget the receptionist
  • Assign a buddy for the day to show them around and so that they have a lunch companion too
  • Provide all access & login details for all systems and who their point of contact should be in case of questions for each system
  • Double-check that all pre-arranged meetings are still on track
  • Provide a cheat-sheet of internal extensions or other internal contact information for all team members

Strategy star extras:

  • Combine and align orientation activities with the first project to be tackled
  • No paperwork on the first day! If pre-boarding is done right, the paper bits should all be out of the way by now

End of week one: team spirit

Your new hire is feeling a little more settled in their new role, so now is time to ramp up the friend factor by making sure they keep meeting their new colleagues in an informal setting in person. Have a whole group of newbies coming in? Schedule a company breakfast, lunch or afterwork for the whole team.

Essential agenda:

  • Double check that all new hire paperwork is correctly signed and received. We suggest this be a check-in on Day 2
  • Double check that they have received all company devices, badges, company car, etc and that all are set up and working correctly
  • Manager has conversation with new hire to set personal goals and performance objectives for the first month

The social factor aside, by now your new hire might have some extra requests they didn’t know before but are dying to ask. Help them out by preparing an updated directory of go-to resources and contacts.

Some key contacts:

  • IT support
  • HR-go-to contact
  • Administrative support
  • Department supervisors
  • Learning coordinators
  • Their boss and their boss’s boss
  • Their mentor/mentee

Strategy star extras:

  • Photos for a “Newbies Just In” social media series, welcome board, internal email, etc
  • Start making positive memories and turning your new hires into social media brand advocates - share your company handles and hashtags with the new hires
  • Struggling to break the ice? Read these icebreaker questions to become the king of new hire social orientation
  • Sit down for an informal follow-up with your new hire “buddy” to see how first week went
  • Shadow a colleague in the same (or similar) job function for a day

First month: all about the business

With their first projects well under way, the first month milestone is the perfect time to make sure your new hire’s experience only keeps getting better and is closely tied to your business goals. Organize two-way review sessions with their superiors and team members for the first, out of a series of, career pulse checks.

Essential agenda:

  • Check in and re-aligning (if needed) of personal objectives
  • A brief informal review of performance and expectations for the employee
  • A company and team review from the employee
  • Check-up on any housekeeping items that have arisen since pre-boarding - make sure all documents and/or tools are finally set up or turned in if not already
  • Make sure relocation, bank accounts and first salary transfers have gone through smoothly

Strategy star extras:

  • Team lunch, after-work drinks or another informal social activity with the team if you haven’t already organized one yet
  • Invite new hires to work for a day or two from another office location (even in another country!) to help them start building up their wider network in the company

Three months on: the show goes on

Your new employee may not seem all that new anymore - fully settled into their working routine, with plenty of friendly colleagues to go for advice to and for a meal with. Yet their onboarding experience is far from over! To instill further confidence in their career progression and development, it is now time to talk bigger goals and new beginnings.

Essential agenda:

  • A comprehensive review of the first milestones, improvements and achievements
  • An employee-to-manager review: looking at project ownership and future goals within the company and development objectives

Strategy star extras:

  • Collect fresh feedback on the onboarding process for continuous improvement of the onboarding experience

Half a year: great expectations

With the essential onboarding milestones already behind, your not-so-new employee could be mentoring their own new hires by now. Their journey with your company is still only beginning - having gotten to know the ropes of the work, your staff would have valuable insight to share on the internal processes at your organization, as well as a fresh perspective on your company culture - hear them out!

Essential agenda:

  • A conversation concerning personal development objectives for the rest of the year
  • Further pulse-checks making sure your employee progresses under your guidance
  • Address their initial career goals and discuss them within the organization’s context

Strategy star extras:

  • The first senior management conversation - giving every employee a chance to speak to the CEO, bringing revolutionary ideas forward ahead and beyond any hierarchical structures
  • Shadow another colleague in a related (but not same) job function for a day

First year: upwards and onwards

A smooth and eventful first year behind them, your employee is way beyond getting lost in the office or asking for their colleague’s contact details. They may live and breathe company culture by now but they have not forgotten their goals and dreams of ‘who they wanted to be when they grew up’ and neither should their employer. One year onwards is the right time to look back and praise your staff for their achievements, as well as help them shape their path with you for the future personal and company’s wins.

Essential agenda:

  • Evaluate and update development goals
  • Look over performance milestones past and future and set new records
  • Get documented feedback on the overall onboarding and first year experiences
  • Create cross-functional assignments or stretch assignments to help further develop the (not so) new hire in their role

Strategy Star Extra:

  • Your star employee has already been promoted? Time to re-onboard internal promotions and keep growing together!

Want to know if your onboarding process is up to the new hire test? Take our free Onboarding Scan to find out and get a personalized report on your areas of improvement.

Download a PDF version of this checklist here

If your onboarding activities are not already tailored according to seniority and profiles of every new employee, then it is time to diversify your new hire onboarding content using our Newbie Profile Manual and FAQs.

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About Christina Chaplin

Christina Chaplin Profile Photo

I am a bilingual English-Spanish strategic marketing professional with solid experience in agile product development and market positioning. I have always been in "connecting" roles, as a project or team leader, integrating various departments and areas to design and execute broad-reaching strategic projects. I have a true passion for technology and building innovative end-user experiences that improve and enrich people’s work and lives. With more than 15 years professional experience and a decade of working abroad, I have gained significant experience leading and working with multinational and remote teams.

I'm strategically-minded, a quick learner, a critical thinker, and am enthusiastic about my work, with a get-it-done attitude and curious spirit that drives a constant search for new trends and ideas that can be turned into new business opportunities or bring value to my organization.

Sectors: Various marketing & communications roles in companies and organizations across sectors such as SaaS / Internet / Tech, Education, Recruitment & HR Consulting.

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