Effective onboarding is crucial for setting up your new hire for success. The first few months is their first impression, and it tends to set the tone for the rest of their time with the company. A good onboarding program gives them the foundation they need to succeed and contribute to the company’s goals.
This blog post was written in mind for anyone who is looking for inspiration to set up an onboarding program for new hires on their team. From my experience onboarding new teammates at both small startups (10-200 people) and large companies (10,000+ people), this is a checklist I use.
Identify your goals for onboarding and reverse engineer an onboarding program that will check them off.
In my experience, a successful onboarding program should help the new hire:
Before the new hire starts, put together an onboarding guide. Here’s a template you can use as a starting point. The key parts include creating a 30/60/90 day plan, identifying their first few tasks, and providing context on the team. Get feedback from your team on things to include in here. Onboarding new teammates is a team effort!
If the role is remote, send their equipment so that it will arrive before their first day. If you can send them a tracking number, that’s a bonus!
If the role is in person, set up their desk and equipment, so it’s clean and ready for their first day.
If your team has a new hire ritual, don't forget to include that (or start one). At a smaller company I was at, each new hire was given a welcome balloon, usually with a random message, overwritten to say "welcome".
Set up their email, Slack, etc accounts or get in touch with HR/IT to do it.
Compile welcome notes from the team and attach them to the onboarding guide or email it to them a few days before their first day. This is a personal touch and helps the new teammate feel welcome by everyone on/before day 1.
Identify an onboarding buddy and share buddy expectations. They don't have to be senior, just someone to be around to help answer questions as they get started. A mentor is different from an onboarding buddy.
Send them their onboarding guide and go over it with them.
Schedule manager/direct report 1:1 check-in on the first week.
Host team led onboarding sessions by topic or areas of interests.
Support them in completing a small project.
Ramp them up, so they feel confident independently contributing to larger projects.
Ask for their feedback on the onboarding process, so the team can continue to improve the process. Here's an onboarding feedback template.