The Ultimate Employee Onboarding Guide

Welcoming a new employee is more than just adding a number towards your team’s headcount. You are also acquiring a new asset that can be worthy to your team and your company’s growth.

That’s why having a successful employee onboarding experience matters — it plays a role in retaining the best talent and markets your company culture.

Onboarding misconceptions

A big misconception about the employee onboarding experience is that it’s equivalent to an orientation program where it is carried out on the newcomer’s first day.

In reality, onboarding should be a continuous process that starts even before a newcomer’s start date.

Another misconception is the accountability of who is in charge of employee onboarding.

It is true that anything related to employee engagement falls under HR but when it comes to onboarding, there are many portions that require the expertise of other departments.

Hence, onboarding is a team effort.

Pulling of a successful onboarding experience

The key to a successful employee onboarding experience is to plan ahead. This guide aims to make the planning process easier by offering a checklist at each phase of employee onboarding.

Employee onboarding phases

The onboarding phases are broken down into 3 periodical phases:

  1. Pre-onboarding
  2. The first day
  3. The 2 weeks

Each of these phases have different objectives in the onboarding process.

Phase #1: Pre-onboarding

When: A week before the employee’s start date

Onboarding objective:

  1. To prepare your office in welcoming a new employee
  2. To keep your new employee engaged before their start date

Pre-onboarding is the first and most important phase in the employee onboarding process.

This phase will not only prep your joiner in what to expect but also prepare your current team by informing them on having someone new in the office.

Keeping your new joiner engaged is important to make them look forward to the first day and bring them up to speed with the current ongoings in the company.

This is also the key period where employers will provide necessary information to a new joiner that could help them have a smooth first day at work.

To make you employee onboarding process efficient, here’s a checklist of what you need to do in each of those focus areas.

The Pre-onboarding Checklist

1. Communication with your new employee
  • Send an email that includes
    • A soft copy of your companies employee handbook
    • Their start date and office hours
    • Special directions (if any)
    • Parking information
    • Their schedule for the first week
    • Key activities for the first week
    • Deliverables for the first week
    • Useful reading material or documents
    • A brief update what the company’s current activities
2. Informing your current team on having a new employee
  • Send an email that includes:
    • The first name of the new joiner
    • Their start date
    • Their position
3. Setting up your new employee’s workspace, both physical and virtual
  • Furniture
    • Table
    • Chair
  • Electronics
    • Laptop
    • Laptop charger
    • Desktop
    • Keyboard
    • Mouse
    • Mousepad
  • Stationery
    • A stationery kit
    • Notepads
  • Company necessities
    • Business card
    • Company t-shirt
    • Access card/tags
  • Virtual setups
    • new email account
    • new accounts on relevant company softwares
    • adding new joiner to relevant work group chats
    • setting up office calendar
    • WiFi information
    • Printer information
    • Other important login credentials

Phase #2: The First Day

When: On the day of the new employee’s start date

Onboarding objective: To make your new employee feel welcomed and ready for their new journey

The first day of work can be a nerve-wrecking experience for a newcomer.

As an employer, easing those nerves is crucial to having the new joiner being comfortable enough to perform well on their first day.

This phase of onboarding is also a chance for your employees to build rapport with your new joiner.

Some companies even do “buddy” or mentorship systems to facilitate this phase. By assigning a specific person to your new joiner, they are able to have a go-to person to refer to.

The checklist of things that need to be done for the first day phase are activity based items compared to the pre-onboarding checklist.

The First Day Checklist

  • Activities
    • An icebreaker activity
    • An office tour
    • A presentation on the company and its direction
    • A scheduled meeting with the new joiner’s supervisor
    • A discussion on workplace policies and conducts
    • Taking a photo for ID purposes
    • A special team outing (e.g company lunch, tea break)
  • Documentation related activities
    • Handing over HR and finance related documents
    • Filling in necessary forms such as contracts

Phase #3: The First Few Weeks

When: After the new employee’s first week or second week at the company

Onboarding objective: To check in with your new joiner



The first few days at a new job can get pretty overwhelming. Getting used to new ways of working, adapting to a different pace and settling in can be stressful.

That’s why checking in with your new joiner is important to see how they are coping.

It’s also an opportunity for the new employee to ask any questions and discuss their upcoming deliverables in terms of KPIs now that they’ve gotten a rough idea on their job scope and the company’s direction.

The checklist for this phase will consist of short meetings or catch-up sessions for check in purposes.

The First Few Weeks Checklist

  • schedule a regular catch-up sessions
  • address any questions or concerns the new joiner may have
  • recommend material that could help the new joiner

Creating a good first impression matters and it all it takes is a successful onboarding process.

By breaking down the onboarding process into key phases, you’re on your way to creating a great employee onboarding experience any new joiner will appreciate.


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