« Back to Blog

The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist Template

Onboarding Guide

Creating an onboarding checklist template helps hiring managers keep track of, analyze, and optimize every part of the employee onboarding process.

Looking to upgrade your frontline onboarding strategy? Download our Complete Guide to Onboarding Frontline Employees.

There’s a lot to keep track of during employee onboarding. From greeting new hires to providing training materials and making sure their tax forms get submitted, there is room for error and confusion.

Creating an onboarding checklist for new hires reduces overwhelm and makes the onboarding process more efficient. We’ll take a look at:

  • What is employee onboarding?
  • Why a new hire onboarding checklist is important
  • Different phases during the onboarding process
  • Best practices for creating a new staff onboarding checklist

We’ll also include an onboarding checklist template so that you can create and customize your own.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Employee Onboarding?

The minute you walk into your workplace on the first day, you’re encountering new faces, procedures, technologies, and paperwork. From signing forms to having coffee with co-workers – it’s all part of employee onboarding. Let’s look at a more formal definition.

According to SHRM:

“Onboarding” refers to the processes in which new hires are integrated into the organization. 

During employee onboarding, employees learn more about the organization’s structure, culture, and values, as well as the behaviors they will need to perform at their best. Formal onboarding includes organized activities, like meeting their manager and participating in training programs. More informal encounters, like having lunch with a coworker, count as onboarding, too.

Employee onboarding is not the same as orientation, though the two terms are often used interchangeably. Employee orientation is usually a short-term process that involves filling out paperwork and lasts a few days to a week. Onboarding is a more long-term process that integrates employees into their specific role and responsibilities

The Importance Of A New Hire Onboarding Checklist

Onboarding checklists are one of several tools that contribute to a successful onboarding process for new hires. Let’s define what a new hire onboarding checklist means:

A staff onboarding checklist is a guide for an organization’s HR team and hiring manager that ensures employers don’t miss any of the steps in an employee’s onboarding process.

Onboarding can be stressful and overwhelming for new hires and hiring managers alike, especially when there are many steps to keep track of over several days, weeks, or even months. A new staff onboarding checklist reduces the chances that a crucial step gets overlooked and both employees and managers have to waste time backtracking later.

Having an onboarding checklist for new hires has several benefits:

  • Makes onboarding more consistent
  • Saves time
  • Creates a smoother onboarding process

All of this can make a positive impact on employee engagement. Employee engagement, or the relationship employees have with the organization they work for, begins on the first day of onboarding. An employee’s first impression of their workplace sets the tone for how they will engage with it in the future. An organized and efficient onboarding process primes employees to be more engaged, committed, and productive.

Onboarding Phases

Let’s break down the different parts of the employee onboarding process so that we can better understand what needs to go into creating an onboarding checklist for new hires.


As we mentioned before, orientation is not synonymous with onboarding but rather one part of a longer process. The goal of orientation is to introduce new hires to their new workplace, not fully integrate them yet

Orientation can be a one-on-one experience. But for bigger organizations, especially those that employ frontline workers, orientation usually brings together a group of new employees at once. Presentations, walk-throughs, and Q&A sessions are all typical examples of orientation activities.

Job-Specific Training

Once employees know the basics of their new workplace, the next step is to familiarize them with their day-to-day duties. This usually could involve reviewing performance expectations, shadowing other employees, and technical walk-throughs. 

The benefit of digital onboarding is that job specific training can still happen even if employees are distributed among different locations. This can be particularly useful for frontline organizations that employ a distributed workforce. Creating a digital onboarding process using a mobile communication app like Beekeeper means that employees can complete job-specific training on the go, wherever they are.


Typically around months 2-4, employees are done with the first phases of onboarding and start the transition phase. During this time, new hires are quite literally transitioning into becoming fully familiar with their role. HR usually takes a back seat at this point and the new employee is mostly in contact with their manager or supervisor.

Pro Tip: Continue to support employees during the transition phase with continuous learning. Microlessons are one of the most effective employee training methods because they build skills in small doses, over time.

Ongoing Development

The last phase of the onboarding process takes into consideration an employee’s growth within the organization. Dedicating time and resources into creating a long term plan signals to employees that the company they work for is invested in their development. This, in turn, gives employees more motivation to continue showing up and do their best work.

During this phase, managers can assess how well the employee has transitioned into their role and whether they need additional resources to thrive. Career mapping, individualized plans, and goal setting are all possible components of an ongoing development plan.

Key Elements Of A Staff Onboarding Checklist

When constructing a successful onboarding program, think about what your onboarding experience was like at a new job. Did you have all the resources you needed? Were you left to fend for yourself? What kinds of tools do you wish you had received? Here are a few best practices for creating an onboarding staff checklist.

Be Clear with Goals and Expectations

Most managers want their team members to perform at their best. But what does that really mean in specific terms? Outlining the metrics for being a “successful” employee helps new hires understand where they stand in the onboarding process and what they need to work on. That way, managers can provide help early on for an employee who is struggling to meet certain expectations. Likewise, employees can speak up if they don’t have the resources they need to reach a goal their manager gives them.

Set Realistic Goals

It’s unrealistic to expect a new hire to retain all the information they’re given and perform perfectly on day one. Setting realistic goals can help new employees acclimate to their new work environment in a way that builds confidence without overwhelm. Realistic goals set new employees up to success by allowing them to start achieving milestones right away.

Go Paperless

Employee onboarding is notorious for involving a mountain of paperwork. Policy manuals, product sheets, rule books, safety manuals are all important documents, but they are often not put to their best use in paper form. Employees may see those big, clunky manuals that live in HR’s offices during orientation but don’t have access to them several months into the job. Digitizing documentation and going paperless offers the chance for employees to have important materials at their fingertips during the onboarding process and beyond. Knowing that these documents are always at their disposal also gives employees the reassurance that they can refer back to them if they need to.

Assign Mentors

It’s one thing to read a manual on how to perform a task, or watch a training video about it. But it’s an entirely different experience to try to do it yourself in real time. New job jitters, performance pressure, and an unfamiliar environment can all impact a new hire’s ability to complete their tasks. Assigning a mentor, someone they can turn to for advice and guidance, can ease those nerves and enable new employees to become more productive more quickly.

Onboarding Checklist Template

Having a standard new hire onboarding checklist can help your HR team stay on the same page and assess how well each step is working. Here is an onboarding checklist template to help you start customizing your own.


__ Set up new employee workstation

__ Touch base with manager/supervisor

__ Send out team-wide message about new employee

First Official Welcome

__ Get starting date details (day/time/location)

__ Gather documents needed

__ Communicate onboarding timeline

First Day Onboarding

__ Tour of workplace

__ Introduction to tools/equipment/technology

__ Go over HR documentation (payroll, taxes, insurance, etc.)

__ Team member introductions

__ Set expectations (deadlines, safety, performance, etc.)

__ Discuss company culture/mission/values

__ Assign/introduce mentor 

First Week

__ Schedule training programs

__ Organize informal events (happy hour, meet and greet, etc.)

__ Check in with progress on completing HR documents

__ Identify and address challenges

Onboarding Checklist for Month 1 and Beyond

__ Review performance progress

__ Schedule additional training (if needed)

__ Continue scheduling team-building activities

__ Send out onboarding satisfaction survey

Creating an Onboarding Checklist Template: Key Takeaways

Let’s recap why an onboarding checklist template is a key part of the onboarding process: 

  • Reduces overwhelm for hiring managers
  • Ensures crucial onboarding steps are completed
  • Creates a more consistent process that can be analyzed & improved

We’ve included an onboarding checklist template here. Some best practices to keep in mind when customizing your own include:

  • Setting realistic, specific goals and expectations 
  • Going paperless and digitizing the onboarding process
  • Thinking through every part of the process, from orientation to ongoing development
  • Creating a holistic strategy that involves both formal and informal activities

Fill out the form below to download our guide to crafting a successful onboarding strategy for hourly workers.