Employee onboarding process checklist: The best onboarding practices ✅

Copied to clipboard

If you’re looking for new ways to improve your current hiring process, a well-structured employee onboarding process should be a priority.

A solid employee orientation plan will allow your new hires to be fully integrated into your business, equipping them with everything they need to get straight into their new role and help your business grow.

If you’re wondering how to onboard a new hire and are looking for new employee orientation examples, we’ve put together a complete guide to the best onboarding practices.


Advertise on our job board now to find excellent graduates!

For more hiring needs, check out our managed recruitment services!

What is the onboarding process? Summary video


What is onboarding and new employee orientation?

Employee onboarding is a crucial aspect of the hiring process. It is the most important element of employee retention and is at the heart of recruiting staff.

So, what does onboarding mean in HR?

Here’s our definition:

Onboarding is the procedure of integrating a new employee into a company and training new hires.

Whether you’re hiring engineersrecruiting salespeople, or looking to hire an SEO expert, a strategic and consistent employee onboarding process is key to helping new hires settle into their roles and integrate into your business.

It is particularly important in graduate recruitment, when candidates are likely to have limited experience in full-time employment.

A clear onboarding plan or employee orientation checklist is essential to help hires settle in, integrate with your team, work effectively, and ultimately stay at your company.

It’s important to note that effective employee onboarding doesn’t just involve initial training and introductions – and it isn’t just something to tick off on a list of to-dos.

Companies with the best onboarding practices begin their process when a candidate accepts their offer.

And this should continue for at least their first year, helping to nurture and develop them to become an engaged, motivated, and productive employee.

This browser does not support inline PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF

What are the benefits of employee onboarding process?

There are numerous benefits of having an employee onboarding strategy in place – here are a few of the top ones:

  • Typically, it takes a while (sometimes up to a year) for your new hires to be achieving their targets and performing to full productivity.

    Good staff onboarding helps your new hires achieve your required productivity a lot quicker.

    It should help them understand your goals from the beginning, and lets you monitor their development with frequent manager check-ins.

    Communicating with your new employees about their performance so far, and setting out a plan for improvement, is key to nurturing their developing productivity.

  • Outlining your onboarding plan to your new hires is a great way to show that you care about their development in your company.

    Make sure to sit down with your new employee and go over their training plans, when their check-ins will be, and what you want them to achieve.

    Emphasize to your new staff that you want them to succeed and grow with the company, and you are on hand to provide the resources for them to do so.

    Organisations with successful onboarding plans have a higher rate of employee retention, and see their staff grow with their company on a long-term basis.

    If you’re looking to improve your employee retention, having an excellent onboarding plan in place is key.

    For more tips on how to retain staff, check out our employee retention strategies.

  • Employee referrals play a large part in your recruitment process.

    Your new hires may rave about your onboarding process to their network, helping encourage others to apply to your vacancies and want to join your company.

    It’s important you’re advertising your onboarding on your job description, letting candidates know that their training and career development will be planned out from the start through a structured plan.

    A survey we conducted amongst graduates found professional development and growth opportunities ranked before salary on graduates’ list of ‘what is most important in a job’.

    So, mentioning your onboarding in your job vacancies is an excellent way to attract top graduate talent who are serious about progressing in their career.

    Check out our graduate employment statistics for more insights on what graduates are looking for.

  • A good staff onboarding process provides your new hires with a strong support network to discuss any of their initial worries and anxieties when starting a new job.

    This helps develop trust and stronger relationships between your employees, creating a happy and collaborative working environment.

    Research indicates that the most engaged employees are those who have strong connections with their co-workers and managers!

Virtual onboarding: How to virtually onboard new employees

Wondering how to onboard a new employee remotely and how to train a new hire online?

Virtual onboarding is more popular than ever.

With many offices working from home and using technology to virtually communicate when working remotely, it is important to know how to onboard employees and keep the remote onboarding process as proactive, engaging, and productive as possible.

One-to-one meetings are vital

This will give your new employee the opportunity to talk about how they are finding the onboarding process.

Having a one-to-one virtual meeting will give the employee the time to explain if there is anything they want to address.

It is also a great opportunity for you to get feedback on your virtual process for onboarding new employees.

Create an online community

For fully remote workers and employee onboarding, creating an online community or virtual hub is a great way to boost morale in your company.

This is great from a business perspective and a personal perspective. On the former, it’s useful to have a dedicated space to share ideas and store information virtually.

On the latter, it’s good to engage your new team members with unique onboarding ideas, like introducing them to the office with a fun competition, end of the week quiz (such as ‘Guess the baby photo’), and social video calls.

Use online tools

There are many virtual tools that can make remote onboarding a lot smoother.

Use remote training tools such as: scheduling software, internal communications platforms, and centralised video conference platforms (Teams, Zoom etc.) to ensure that your new starter is informed and never confused.

Offer ongoing support

The best onboarding processes are the ones that are continuous and supportive throughout the entire employee journey.

This is especially important for remote employees, because if they do not feel as though the virtual training was sufficient enough for them to perform the role, then they may not know who to contact about it, or might unknowingly be making mistakes.

A top tip for virtual onboarding is to ensure that you regularly checking in with your remote employee(s). This is at the heart of what it takes to be a good manager: to, as best as you can, ensure the professional happiness and success of your employees, even from home!

If you’re looking for more ways to onboard and train your new hires remotely, make sure to check out our virtual training tips for businesses.

What are the best onboarding practices? How to onboard a new employee:

When planning your onboarding process, it’s important to consider what your hires really need from you.

The graduate recruitment process doesn’t end when the candidate accepts your offer.

When your new graduate hire arrives at your office, they’re probably going to be brimming with enthusiasm, nerves, and a sense of disbelief that they’re officially entering the working world.

By this stage, your induction process should already be in full flow.

Find out what you need to be doing to help them settle into your organisation and excel in their new role.

Read our sample new employee onboarding checklist below:

  • The first and one of the most important steps in your onboarding checklist is to send out offer letters, contracts, and welcome packs.

    Keep your new hires in the loop about how often they can expect to hear from you in the time before they start, and include them in company-wide emails – a great way to make them feel involved before they’ve even started.​

    In many ways, onboarding is all about communication. And communication is crucial at this early stage: make sure your new staff member feels in the loop and listened to.

    • Organise technology and other logistics

    During the week leading up to their start date, set up their email address and ensure that all technology is in good working order.

    Make sure you have your employee’s desk is set up and ready for them.

    Ensure their workplace is how you would want to find your own – clean and tidy, with business cards if they are going out to clients straight away, and maybe some company swag.

    Remember the courage it took you to ask where the stationery supplies were kept on your first day of work? Make sure their desk is fully stocked with notebooks, pens, and anything else they need.

    Then, contact the candidate via phone or email, make sure they know what they need to bring (passport, bank details, etc), and who to ask for on arrival.

    Especially with graduates who have little previous office experience, their first day can be hugely daunting.

    So, taking steps to ensure they feel comfortable and welcomed at your company is an important part of the process.


    • Assign a mentor and launch a workplace mentoring scheme

    One of the best ways to onboard new employees is to have a mentor to support them. Assign a member of your team who’ll act as your new recruit’s buddy.

    Ideally someone who has been at the company long enough to be able to answer questions, but also someone who hasn’t been at the company too long – so they can empathise with them as a ‘new starter’.

    If you’re looking to introduce a workplace mentoring program as part of your onboarding plan, make sure to check out our complete guide to employee mentoring.

    Create an induction plan so that your graduate’s first couple of days aren’t a lonely mix of refreshing their temporary inbox (nope, still just the automatic email welcoming them to Outlook) and looking around in the hope that someone will ask them to do something.

  • On their first day, introduce them to the team and take them on a tour of the office/building/surrounding area (showing them some of your favourite places!)

    Arranging brief induction sessions with members of your team will help a new starter settle in, understand more about your business, and get started on tasks that will be of value to them and to you.

    Then, take 10-15 minutes to sit, have a tea or coffee, and explain what will be happening on their first day, and what they can expect from their first week.

    Throughout the day, encourage them to ask as many questions as possible. Finally, we think it’s a nice touch to take them out for lunch or for a post-work drink. 

    You’ve gone through all this effort to hire them – so, show your new employee how much you value them.

  • In their first week, create a clear and structured agenda.

    If they are training, sitting in meetings, or working on projects, tell them when, where, and what they should bring to each one.

    Then, encourage them to sit down with their line manager or supervisor to discuss their goals, ambitions, and where they see the role developing.

    Finally, why not kick off their first week by getting them to work on a meaningful task with other team members?

    This will give them great insight into what the role is going to involve.

    Manage yours and your team’s expectations.

    Even though your graduate hire or new employee may have some previous work experience under their belt, chances are they won’t have spent much time in a similar office environment.

    They may also be new to your industry.

  • The first month is integral to both parties – so, early initiatives like mentors can be hugely valuable.

    Giving ownership of a task, no matter how small, can boost your graduate hire’s confidence and engagement.

    How can you challenge them, stretch them, and offer them experiences in their first few weeks they’ll feel are valuable and worthwhile?

    Assigning a new hire a mentor is particularly useful for sales roles, helping give your new employees a standard to work towards and experience hands-on training into the sales practices of your business.

    Looking for a sales recruitment company? Get in touch and discover why we’re London’s graduate sales recruitment experts.

    Consider how you can enhance your graduate’s soft skills too.

    Could they be responsible for manning the phones for a few hours a day to improve their communication skills, or be working on multiple projects to strengthen their time management?

    Then, at the end of the month, organise a check-in to ensure that they’re enjoying their new role.

    The check-in doesn’t need to be with a HR team – it can be conducted by a line manager, a team lead, or a mentor.

    Make sure to use this time to listen, too. The feedback they give can provide a real insight into your company culture and management styles.

    Ask them to evaluate their onboarding experience:

    What was useful?

    What might need more clarification or attention?

    Is your buddy system working?

    Did they feel their induction was thorough enough?

    What new skills have they learnt so far?

    How could you improve the onboarding of future hires?

    Their evaluation will help you improve your process, as well as help improve employee morale in the workplace, as individuals like to have their voice heard!

  • The graduate recruitment process isn’t over once you’ve completed the initial onboarding program (up to their first month).

    More than 22% of new starters leave a firm within the first 45 days of employment due to poor onboarding.

    Moving forward, you can retain your new hires by providing ongoing support, scheduling regular reviews and catch-ups, providing clear and constructive feedback, running through their achievements to date, and setting some objectives in place so they have clear goals to work towards.

    Think about opportunities for growth and development, rewards and salary reviews, further mentoring schemes and company-wide perks.

    If you’re operating internationally, and you have teams in different parts of the world, onboarding can be even more challenging.

    In this case, you can outsource your HR services to a Professional Employer Organisation.

    For example, Global PEO, or other providers local to where you are, which can oversee the onboarding process to ensure optimal international employee retention.

Mistakes to avoid when onboarding an employee

Businesses that neglect an effective onboarding process risk losing their best starters before they even get settled.

A new hire will take, on average, around 12 months to reach their full performance within a role according to Gallup, with the employee onboarding process playing a crucial role in how that person contributes the business.

Now, we know if you’re a startup or SME you may not have a HR or people lead (yet), but as you prepare to scale – and, with this comes its own set of people challenges – you need to get a few of the basics and onboarding best practices in place.

And, at its most basic level, a poor onboarding process could cost you 6-9 months salary to recruit and onboard a replacement.

A good employee onboarding process means that expectations are aligned, the cultural aspects of the business are shared, and the new hire knows what a good performance looks like.

These are 3 of the biggest onboarding mistakes you should try to avoid?

3 common mistakes in the employee onboarding process

  • It’s okay, many businesses fall foul of this mistake, even the big brands.

    You’re so eager to get the candidate on board that you create a picture of an ideal that doesn’t exist.

    This can result in a decrease in retention where the new hire just can’t quite adjust to what they were sold versus the reality.

    In this case, try getting recruitment and the line manager in the interviews, or describe how you’d induct someone, so they know what to expect.

  • It may be a probationary period, but you still need to be clear about what success looks like for your graduate hire in month 1-3.

    They’ll not be able to hit big targets or complete adventurous projects, because a lot of their time will be spent learning the ropes.

    But break it down week by week so they can gauge how they are performing. It’s always a good idea to put this structure in place at the start, to help new hires (especially graduates) feel that they are being supported.

    Make a list of what you would expect them to achieve, and work through it with them so you’re aligned. This could be making introductions to key clients, engaging with online learning to fill any skill gaps, and starting small projects to get an insight into where their strengths lay.

  • One of the best ways to induct new employees is to send through an inventory before their state date, detailing what activities they’ll be involved in during the first week.

    Removing this uncertainty will help develop their confidence: they can see if they need to dress a certain way for a meeting or do some background research on a key client.

From the moment a candidate accepts their offer, to your new hire’s first day, week, month and year, the onboarding process is a vital part of graduate recruitment.

It is key to ensuring that they feel comfortable and welcomed in this new environment.

If they don’t, there is no chance they’ll settle well. And without settling well, the likelihood of a hire being successful is very slim.

As we’ve said before, onboarding is about communication: so, be open, honest, and make your new employee’s start as smooth as possible!


Looking to hire graduates for your business or improve your current recruitment process?

As the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, our services helps companies employ staff as quickly as they need to grow and succeed. You will receive a shortlist of vetted candidates usually within 48 hours – you can trust us to find talent, whatever your deadline.

Get in touch today and discover more of our award-winning hiring services and business resources.

    PhoneSchedule video call via emailEmail
    Was this post useful?