Onboarding is not easy to define. Some organizations limit it to a simple meet and greet, a tour of the facility, and “baptism by fire” on-the-job immersion training. Onboarding, however, is so much more than that. If done well, it can be a true differentiator for attracting and retaining top talent while accelerating the learning curve of new additions to your team.

Let’s unpack this a little more by discussing the purpose and importance of onboarding. Then I want to give you some framework for developing a competitive advantage through a well-defined onboarding process.

Purpose and Importance of Onboarding

Simply put, the purpose of onboarding is to help a new hire transition into their new role within the company as quickly and effectively as possible. When implemented correctly, it will alleviate stress while enhancing the culture of an organization. Employees who start well are more likely to stay at the company long-term thus reducing hiring, training, and turnover costs.

Taking on a new job automatically creates stress and anxiety. There is the stress of learning a new position and fitting in with the company’s culture. Employees who are not properly oriented, both in their job and their surroundings, will remain stressed and anxious. This impedes performance, may create distractions for others and can ultimately lead to increased turnover.

Employees typically “break even” 20 weeks after they begin working at a job. This means that their productivity equals what the company has invested in them. They begin to generate more value for the organization over time. Onboarding can improve the time that it takes for employees to become profitable once they are hired. This is accomplished on a functional level (expectations, training, policies, procedures, etc.) and a social level (reporting structures, mentors, and cultural norms). Companies often focus on the functional level at the cost of the social. This can overwhelm employees and leave them feeling uncertain about who to go to for help and leave them lacking a sense of belonging.

Onboarding Checklist

A powerful way to help create an effective onboarding process is to use a checklist. In the balance of this article, I want to give you a checklist to use as a template for ‘unpacking’ your unique onboarding process. In this way, you will create a positive new employee experience and have them performing at the highest levels in the shortest amount of time. 


Onboarding should begin before the new hire ever arrives at the organization. Preparing for a new employee requires a simple checklist.

  • Send welcome letter/packet: This should be done two weeks before the start date if possible.
  • Prepare work area: Have the work area ready as well as any necessary items nametags, parking permits, etc.
  • Provide a contact: New hires should be able to contact someone with questions before they begin work.
  • Schedule onboarding: Schedule a start date, welcome, and orientation meeting.
  • Inform others: Let other employees know when the new hire is starting.
  • Training: Prioritize competencies for their role and organize training to develop those skills in order of priority with a thought-out training schedule.
  • First week’s checklist: Work on the checklist for the first week.


When the new hire arrives, make them feel welcome and explain everything they need to know. They should not feel that their first day is a waste of time or sit idle wondering what they should be doing.

  • Welcome: Greet the new hire with enthusiasm and do not make him or her ask for you.
  • HR tasks: Have the new hire meet with HR to complete any necessary paperwork.
  • Explain policies and procedures: Provide a handbook and begin explaining basic policies and procedures for the organization and their functional area.
  • Schedule: Provide them with a copy of the orientation and training schedule.
  • Introduce: Introduce peers and mentors as you tour the building.
  • Show workspace: Show the new hire their prepared workspace, and make sure he or she has everything necessary to do the job.
  • Training: Provide a training schedule with whatever steps will be necessary to develop role competencies.

First Week

The first week is when any housekeeping items are taken care of that are not attended to on the first day. It is also an important time to review the goals and activities of the new hire.

  • Review: Go over the expectations and responsibilities associated with the position.
  • Training: Make sure the new employee is clear about their responsibilities for being trained…what, how, when, by whom and where. 
  • Feedback: Review and provide additional feedback. Ask for feedback about the onboarding.
  • Inclusion: Include the new hire in meetings.
  • Introductions: Make any necessary introductions that did not occur on the first day.
  • Housekeeping: Follow-up on any incomplete paperwork.

First Month

The first month should help the new hire settle in easily. It is important not to become complacent when a new employee settles in quickly. Keep up with the first month’s checklist to ensure that the onboarding is a success.

  • Clarify: Continue to clarify roles and expectations.
  • Meet: Meet weekly to give and receive feedback.
  • Enroll: If necessary, enroll the new hire for any benefits.
  • Check training: Make sure that the training is on track and being completed.  Measure competencies where possible.
  • Evaluate: Schedule a 30-day evaluation.

In your efforts to create a positive onboarding experience, it’s important to realize everyone is unique. Self-awareness is a leader’s best starting point for understanding others and how to best lead them. Thinking and personality assessments can accelerate the learning curve for both and provide a wealth of information. If used in the hiring process, they can ensure you hire the best person for a specific role and culture while onboarding them effectively.

We’ve developed a powerful and complimentary “Confident Leader Insight Assessment” to help you discover more about yourself as a leader and get a feel for how the new hire version of this assessment could give you an unfair hiring advantage over your competition. Click HERE to take this brief but powerful assessment. The report is immediate and if you’d like a little more interpretation, click the button below to schedule a complimentary laser session to go over the key results and receive a sample new hire assessment report.