First impressions are everything. For businesses, their success depends on their employees, and employee satisfaction and engagement are key to keeping employee productivity and positivity high. This effort starts on day one. Engaged employees are those that feel plugged in, connected, and valued, which is why the early-stage processes like onboarding and orientation are so important. Here are some onboarding resources – including an employee first day checklist – for providing new hires with guidance and a deeper sense of inclusion.
The Importance of a New Employee Orientation Checklist
The first few days of being a new hire are challenging enough. Without an onboarding process, employees can feel lost, stressed, and frustrated, which isn’t the kind of first impression any company wants to make with their new team members. In fact, one HR study discovered that good onboarding procedures can improve employee retention by 82%, whereas a negative onboarding experience makes employees twice as likely to look for a different job.
It’s up to managers and HR teams to create new employee orientation checklists and other materials to ensure new hires are connected to the right resources. A solid, documented process for onboarding new employees benefits both the employee (they feel welcomed and successful right from the get-go) and the employer (they don’t miss any important legal obligations and can fast-track employees to productivity).
What to Include in a New Hire First-Day Checklist
Many managers want to offer their employees the best experience possible but having to onboard new employees is usually seen as an extra task to add to their already busy days. Trying to parallel both daily responsibilities and new employee orientation activities can mean both sets of priorities suffer. Having a tangible checklist – whether it’s printed or available on a shared storage drive and completed digitally – can help both managers and new employees understand expectations while keeping organized. Here are some things to consider when creating your new employee orientation process and new hire first day checklist.
Setup and Supplies
Give employees a comfortable home base by explaining how to use equipment systems. Make sure they know where to find and how to use the following essential office tools:
- Key cards and badges
- Communication tools, like phones, video conferencing software, email and team chat and collaboration programs
- Equipment like printers, scanners, and fax machines
- Onsite appliances like coffee machines
- Shared drives and storage
- Stationary and supplies like pens, notebooks, etc.
If necessary, work with IT to help with setting up computer and phone logins. Make sure employees know who to contact with questions and where to find help desk tools to submit tickets with issues. Assign a member of the IT team to assist with computer setup. Make sure new hires understand how to use all company tools and software needed for their role and who to contact with questions.
Administrative Tasks and Paperwork
There is plenty of paperwork new hires need to sign and it’s usually the first task of any first day. These forms might include any or all of the following:
- I-9 form
- W-4 form
- Direct deposit form
- Non-disclosure agreement
- Confidentiality agreement
Your employees will have questions about how your business operates on a day-to-day level. Make sure to have a conversation about the following (or make sure the employee handbook covers them):
- Vacation/paid time off
- Working from home policies
- Sick time
- Workplace safety guidelines
- Data policies
- Work hours
- Breaks and lunch time guidelines
- Emergency guidelines (fire, tornado, etc.)
Ensure your new hire orientation covers the following (AND develop some materials for employees to keep and refer back to with questions):
- Health and medical insurance
- Employee assistance and wellness programs
- Life insurance
- Disability insurance
- Reimbursement policies
- Stock options guidelines
- 401k or retirement plan
Office Tours and Introductions
New hires need to know where to go. If employees work out of a shared office space, do a tour of the building to cover where key departments and people are located. Take time to make sure employees know about other crucial areas like the following:
- Kitchen and break areas
- Water coolers
- Outdoor seating
- Emergency exits
For off-site and remote employees, make sure to go over the department structure, conduct email or group chat introductions, and ensure that employees know where to find the employee directory.
During the tour, make sure your new hire knows who’s who. Introduce them to key contacts, like those on this list:
- Direct report
- HR manger
- IT employees
- Office manager
You can download our new employee first day checklist template below for an easy way to handle processes and paperwork, as well as other important new hire to-dos.
New Employee First Day Agenda
It’s possible (and probably likely) that you won’t get to everything on our checklist in just one day. A comprehensive checklist can function more as a resource of where to find answers and a tool to help shape the time in between meetings and trainings. A formal new employee first day agenda or schedule can simplify a longer new hire checklist and give shape to someone’s first day on the job.
A first day agenda might look something like this:
- 8am – 10am: Desk setup, technology credentials, and laptop login
- Remote employees should plan to have a video call with HR coordinators and IT help desk team members; on-site employees should have calls or meetings with these contacts set up on their calendars
- 10am – 11am: Fill out new hire paperwork
- 11am – Noon: Office tour/meet the team
- Work from home employees can get a “virtual tour” which might include an overview of team messaging channels or important project management and collaboration tools.
- Noon – 1pm: Team lunch
- Include remote employees by sending out a video meeting invite (and consider sending a gift card to treat them to their lunch)
- 1pm – 3pm: Review employee handbook
- 3pm – 4pm: Manager 1-on-1 for questions and next steps
- In-person or in a video meeting, this time should be dedicated to manager’s spending time with their new employees and getting on the same page about the expectations for the week and seeing if there are any questions so far.
Other Ways to Welcome New Hires
A smooth first day that includes an organized onboarding experience is going to be the first step in successfully welcoming new team members. If you want to make sure that your onboarding experience goes beyond necessary and is welcoming and warm, consider adding these steps into your new hire process:
Welcome New Employee Announcement
A new employee announcement email for new hires serves two purposes. First, it shows employees that they are being welcomed to the team at large. It also lets existing staff know that someone is joining the organization and what their role is, often helping to put a face to a name and start building employee connections.
Employee welcome emails can be simple. For example:
Subject Line: Welcome, [Employee Name]
We’re excited to announce that starting today, [new employee’s name] will be joining as [position name]. [Employee] will report to [manager’s name] on the [department/team]. Previously, they [include graduation information or prior work history or place of employment].
In the coming days, please take some time to introduce yourself and make [employee] feel welcome.
[HR manager, team manager, or department director]
New Employee Gift Ideas
A welcome gift for new employees is a small gesture to appreciate them early. Leaving a small token on a new employee’s desk (or sending remote employees something to their homes) helps them feel more comfortable in their new role. It can be something personalized, something useful, or something to help them feel more settled. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Branded company swag, like a coffee mug, hoodie, t-shirt, headphones, or backpack
- A gift card to a local restaurant in the area (particularly helpful for new hires who have relocated)
- A small plant for their desk or home office
- The company book club book of the month
- A subscription to an online learning site that offers continued education and training opportunities (i.e. Linkedin Premium)
Whatever the gift, the most important thing is to make sure that it shows employees they are valued members of the team and that the company is excited to invest in them now and into the future.
An employee’s first day helps set them up for success. Having a new employee orientation checklist ready to go can be one fewer thing to worry about during the work of onboarding and first day training and orientation.
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