Inside the Industry

Reducing New Hire Friction with an Employee Onboarding Checklist

For the majority of HR departments, onboarding a new employee can be an inefficient, disconnected experience — both for themselves and the new hire. Jumping between internal processes and managing necessary steps like I-9 paperwork and drug testing can be a hassle, especially when many of these steps are handled by a third party or bounce between multiple internal stakeholders.

This kind of confusing onboarding process is a turn-off for your newly hired employee and can delay their start date, costing you resources and revenue. So how can you build a better, more efficient onboarding process? The first step is to ask whether you’re sending your new hires a mountain of disorganized paperwork to fill out, or whether there’s a clear, step-by-step process.

Are You Sending a “Junk” Packet?

Your new hires need to fill out a variety of forms to meet hiring requirements, but for new hires, getting all of their required paperwork can often feel like receiving a packet of paperwork junk.

Obviously, all of this paperwork serves an important purpose, but it’s overwhelming and confusing to go through. Plus, a lot of the paperwork you send your new hires ultimately turns into something akin to a scavenger hunt, forcing new hires to track down third-party resources to help them complete steps.

To a degree, that’s unavoidable. They need paperwork to get them through the process, and they need to complete certain steps with third parties by necessity (unless you’re planning to open a drug testing lab in your office somewhere, which we don’t recommend).

There are comprehensive solutions that can help centralize all onboarding steps and paperwork and alleviate this struggle, but if you’re looking for a simple step you can take today, try documenting out all of the actions your new hire will need to complete and who will need to help them. This kind of simple list will help to provide something of a roadmap — both for your team and the onboarding employee — to outline clear steps that they’ll take to get to their start date.

The Employee Onboarding Checklist

If you’ve spent enough time in HR and onboarding, chances are you’ve heard this term before. Crafting an employee onboarding checklist lays out all of the steps that you and your new hire have to take in between the offer letter and start date. There is no one-size-fits all process, since no two organizations are completely identical, but there are some common concerns and steps that your checklist should address. When determining what items should go on your new hire checklist, consider the following:

  • Think about all of the paperwork that need to be completed for internal purposes, such as signing a code of ethics or an employee handboo
  • Who needs to train or be introduced to the new employee?
  • What is your plan for completing the I-9 form? Considering the growing trend towards remote work, can you offer your new hire any advice on getting those documents to you efficiently?
  • What about other payroll paperwork, such as direct deposit forms?
  • Is there any additional information that the employee will need regarding benefits, such as health insurance information or 401k contributions?
  • Do you require any specific background check documents?
  • Lastly, are there any industry-specific requirements you need to worry about, such as nursing licenses or job certifications?

Walk through the process in your head and list it all out. Try to separate individual items by category (such as “company training/paperwork” and “background check/drug screen authorization”) and see what you come up with. When you’re finished, your employee onboarding checklist should look like a shopping list of new hire responsibilities, internal requirements and dependencies. Now, you have a solid start to creating a more seamless, streamlined experience.

You’ve Got the Checklist — Now What?

Realistically, your goal should be to provide the smoothest possible onboarding experience. That may sound like a no-brainer, but as you’ve probably seen first hand, it’s easier said than done. Spending some time working up a specific new hire process for internal stakeholders (such as a hand-off plan from the HR team to their new department manager and back) will help keep those wheels turning to prevent unnecessary stalls in the process.

What’s more, formalizing your onboarding process as a checklist will help you improve your process over time and identify stages in the process that could be made more effective. Look at those departmental handoffs and internal paperwork steps as opportunities to maximize efficiency.

To measure efficiency, we encourage you to try to track the timelines of both “problem” steps (such as those involving a third party and department handoffs) as well as the overall new hire process timelines. Seeing a reduction in both should be your ultimate goal, and even just building a baselines analysis will help you identify where to start.

If you’re looking for an easy way to streamline the process significantly, consider exploring an onboarding software. These platforms can centralize every step in the onboarding process and create a central communication hub for both your own team and your new employees. If you want to explore what an onboarding platform can provide to your process, check out our Xenqu solutions page to learn how our software works!


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