entrepreneurship

The Ultimate New Hire Checklist

Ian Chandler

WealthFit Contributor

You may already have some generalized onboarding practices in place for your business. So WHY revisit it and potentially put MORE work into it? If you don’t have a slick onboarding process, making a mistake when bringing on a new hire can create significant consequences.

You need a robust onboarding process that you can rely on time and time again. 

More specifically, you need a new hire checklist that will help you systematize your onboarding and streamline the process from start to finish.

The Importance Of Hiring New Employees Properly

Imagine that you miss a step in the onboarding process. 

Maybe you forget to do a background check or don’t go through with new hire training for one reason or another.

That new hire is now a liability to you. 

What if they take two extra weeks to learn all of their responsibilities, thus costing you money? 

Or what if they have a criminal past that you missed because you didn’t do a background check, later resulting in the termination of the employee

Even if the consequences aren’t this severe, they can still greatly affect your company.

Simply put, the longer an employee takes to fully onboard, the more they’ll cost you. The average employer already spends about $4,000 and 24 days on a new hire. 

If your onboarding process has holes in it, you might end up spending significantly more time and money.

Incomplete or ineffective onboarding can also be detrimental to your company culture. If your new hire isn’t on the same page as the rest of your team, there will undoubtedly be friction.

If you think this can’t happen to you, consider that only 12 percent of employees think their companies do a great job of onboarding. 

The other 88 percent are dissatisfied with their companies’ onboarding procedures in some way. 

The numbers speak for themselves––the way you’re hiring employees matters a ton.

So how do you ensure that you onboard well?

A new hire checklist is one of the best ways to improve your onboarding. A checklist creates an onboarding road map for you so you know what you’re doing at each step of the process.

In this article, we’ll look at three types of checklists: 

  • one for full-time employees 
  • one for part-time employees
  • one for freelance employees 

Each type of employee needs to be onboarded differently, and these checklists will ensure you don’t miss a beat.

New Hire Checklist: Full Time

For ease of use, this checklist will be separated into three parts: paperwork, company policy, and orientation. These three categories serve as general umbrellas to make the organization more digestible.

Paperwork

First, let’s talk about paperwork. There’s no getting around the fact that a significant amount of paperwork is involved when onboarding. From new employee forms to legal forms, you’ll be dealing with a lot of red tape at this stage.

This alone is one big reason to use a checklist. By easily checking off each form when it’s completed, you can rest assured knowing you’re onboarding well.

Here’s a list of the most common forms you’ll need when onboarding a new employee.

Personal Employee Information

You’ll want to get all of the basic information, including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Contact information
  • Emergency contact information
  • Previous job information
  • Medical history (if applicable) and allergy information

Your local, state, or federal laws may stipulate that you include other information, so it’s a good idea to double-check (and get legal confirmation and advice).

Background Check 

Screening each new employee is a key aspect of the onboarding process; it’s something you simply can’t overlook.

You can perform a background check (formally known as a consumer report) yourself, but this can eat up your time. Alternatively, you can use a background check service is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). 

If you go this route, make sure the background check service you use is indeed compliant. If you do use a third party, you’ll have to notify your employees and get their written authorization.

Generally, you’ll also want to ensure your background check process is law-abiding. Again, if you’re in doubt, it’s best to get legal advice before moving on.

Tax Information 

There are a few tax forms you’ll need to use during onboarding. These commonly include:

  • I-9 Employment Eligibility Form
  • W-4 Form
  • State tax withholding form
  • Local tax withholding form
  • Direct deposit authorization (if applicable)

Company Policy

Since each company’s policy differs, this step will be unique to you. You may not end up going through all of these steps, or, on the other hand, you may need to add more steps.

The following is simply a good baseline to reference when you’re developing your process for transmitting company policy information during onboarding.

Compensation 

Make sure you lay out compensation plainly:

  • specify the salary 
  • method of payment 
  • frequency of payment
  • any other essential information that’s applicable (like info about raises/bonuses)

Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure Agreements 

Some businesses don’t need these forms, but for others, they’re absolutely vital. This is another step where legal advice and information is critical. 

There are many great templates to use if you don’t already have one, but no matter what you wind up using, it’s best to get it reviewed by a legal expert before you use it. 

Benefits Information 

Provide an overview of all of your benefits, including:

  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Long- and short-term disability
  • Paid time off
  • Sick time
  • Parental leave
  • Vacation
  • Retirement plans
  • Reimbursement policies

Dress Code 

While your company may not require certain work attire, it’s still a good idea to implement some code, such as “business casual”, even if it’s not the strictest of policies.

Technology Policy

It’s becoming increasingly common for businesses to have policies that specify how employees use technology. Technology policies typically address the following:

  • Whether employees are given any technology, such as a computer (either permanently or temporarily)
  • Use of technology in the workplace (including personal Internet, phone, and wearable usage)

Smoking/Alcohol/ Policy 

Again, this is fairly straightforward, but these policies—whether or not smoking or alcohol is allowed—still needs to be outlined in plain language.

Drug And Alcohol Test Consent Agreement

If you want to test for drug or alcohol usage, you’ll need to get the employee’s consent. (Once again, legal advice goes a long way here.)

Disciplinary Policy 

This is another straightforward aspect of any company policy. Your employees need to know what constitutes as breaches of your disciplinary policy and if/when action will be taken.

General Information

There’s usually a lot of basic administrative information that doesn’t fall into one of the aforementioned categories. 

This includes information about: 

  • parking, 
  • building layout 
  • supplies 
  • equipment 
  • visitor policy

Working Hours And Overtime Policy

Employees should know how to log their time, and there should be a firm overtime policy in place as well.

Orientation

Detailed employee orientation will have a hugely beneficial impact on your employee’s onboarding experience. There are some key elements of a good orientation:

Guided Office Tour 

This usually happens on the first day of orientation, although this varies. On the tour, the new employee should be notified of the location of their office along with restrooms, any kitchen/cafeteria areas, and emergency exits. 

This is also a fantastic opportunity to introduce new hires to their coworkers and the overall department layout of the office.

Introductory And Onboarding Meetings 

Meetings can make or break an orientation. 

If they’re substantial and helpful, meetings will make orientation ten times better. It’s usually recommended to set up meetings with leadership as well as the employee’s direct manager and team members.

Training Schedule 

Your orientation should be firmly scheduled to allow for the smoothest experience. 

It’s common practice for the management and human resources teams to collaborate on this schedule.

Employee Reviews

These initial reviews will serve as an important form of communication with your new hire, as well as discussing a growth plan. Many experts suggest setting up 30, 60, and 90-day reviews.

Employee Feedback On Orientation And Training 

Asking for feedback on your orientation and training procedures is invaluable because it allows you to easily improve onboarding for future hires. 

This might take the form of a survey or questionnaire given out to new employees after their orientation/training period is up. 

The survey/questionnaire should cover every aspect of onboarding and ask for specific comments and feedback.

New Hire Checklist: Part-Time

As you might expect, onboarding a part-time employee will look a little different from onboarding a full-time employee.

However, many organizations don’t onboard part-time hires at all, and this is a big problem. 

Some businesses think that the resource tradeoff of onboarding part-time employees is too large. The consequence of not onboarding (or poorly onboarding) part-time employees can be creating a high turnover rate. In this case, extra time and money are spent recruiting and onboarding instead of working towards the company’s goals.  

By onboarding everyone—including part-time hires—you’re protecting your business, your culture, and your bottom line.

Unsurprisingly, the checklist for part-time hires looks fairly similar to the full-time checklist but with a few important changes. 

Note: if an item is denoted with an asterisk (*), it is the same as the Full-Time New Hire Checklist above. 

Paperwork

Personal Employee Information* 

You’ll want to get all of the basic information, including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Contact information
  • Emergency contact information
  • Previous job information
  • Medical history (if applicable) and allergy information

Your local, state, or federal laws may stipulate that you include other information, so it’s a good idea to double-check (and get legal confirmation and advice).

Background Check* 

Screening each new employee is a key aspect of the onboarding process, and it’s something you simply can’t overlook.

You can perform a background check (formally known as a consumer report) yourself, but this can eat up your time. Alternatively, you can use a background check service is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). 

If you go this route, make sure the background check service you use is indeed compliant. If you do use a third party, you’ll have to notify your employees and get their written authorization.

Generally, you’ll also want to ensure your background check process is law-abiding and fully above board. Again, if you’re in doubt, it’s best to get legal advice before moving on.

Tax Information* 

There are a few tax forms you’ll need to use during onboarding. These commonly include:

  • I-9 Employment Eligibility Form
  • W-4 Form
  • State tax withholding form
  • Local tax withholding form
  • Direct deposit authorization (if applicable)

Company Policy

Working Hours

When it comes to part-time employees, it’s important to both track time and explain to the part-time employee how to track his or her time. 

Overtime Policy*

Make sure this includes information for your part-time employees. If he or she works more than their expected amount, what will the compensation be? 

Compensation*

Make sure you lay out compensation plainly:

  • specify the salary 
  • method of payment 
  • frequency of payment
  • any other essential information that’s applicable (like info about raises/bonuses)

Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure Agreements* 

Some businesses don’t need these forms, but for others, they’re absolutely vital. This is another step where legal advice and information is critical. 

There are many great templates to use if you don’t already have one, but no matter what you wind up using, it’s best to get it reviewed by a legal expert.

Benefits Information*

Chances are your benefits for part-time employees are different from full-time benefits. These need to be clearly laid out in any paperwork/documentation relating to any and all benefits.

Dress Code*

While your company may not require certain work attire, it’s still a good idea to implement some code, such as “business casual”, even if it’s not the strictest of policies.

Technology Policy 

Because your technology policy might look different for part-time employees than full-time employees, it’s important to outline it. 

Smoking/Alcohol Policy*

These policies must be outlined in plain language.

Drug And Alcohol Test Consent Agreement*

If you want to test for drug or alcohol usage, you’ll need to get the employee’s consent. (Once again, legal advice goes a long way here.)

Disciplinary Policy*

This is another straightforward aspect of any company policy. Your employees need to know what constitutes as breaches of your disciplinary policy and if/when action will be taken.

General Information*

There’s usually a lot of basic administrative information that doesn’t fall into one of the aforementioned categories. This includes information about:

  • parking, 
  • building layout 
  • supplies 
  • equipment 
  • visitor policy

Add in any relevant information that applies only to your part-time hires.

Orientation*

For orientation, include everything from the full-time checklist:

  • Guided office tour
  • Introductory and onboarding meetings
  • Training schedule
  • Employee reviews
  • Employee feedback

Throughout orientation, make it a point to onboard your part-time employees the same exact way you’d onboard full-time workers. In other words, don’t onboard part-time people less

They’re a part of your team just like everyone else.

New Hire Checklist: Freelance

What will dictate the amount of time it takes to onboard an employee is how long-term your working relationship is; the longer you plan to work with a freelancer, the more you’ll need to onboard them.

The most notable difference between hiring someone full time, part-time or freelance is that freelancers are almost always remote, so the onboarding process is streamlined. And, of course, the tax situation will be different.

Here’s how to get the most out of your freelance onboarding process.

Paperwork

In terms of paperwork, it’s still important to collect basic personal information. While it’s not common to perform background checks on freelancers—many companies run online searches instead—it’s still a viable option depending upon the work you’re hiring the freelancer for. 

Because you’ll likely be hiring your freelancers as independent contractors, in terms of tax paperwork, they will use Form 1099. In this scenario, you won’t need an I-9 from your freelancers.

Company Policy

The company policy information is usually very different for freelance employees. While you’ll still need to detail compensation, non-compete/non-disclosure agreements, and benefits, everything else will be modified a bit. For example, you won’t really need a dress code for remote freelance workers.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Working Hours 

This will vary depending on how you want to manage your freelancers. Some businesses require freelancers to log their hours and turn in reports (typically weekly), but others don’t require that at all and instead rely solely on freelancers’ output.
Overtime Policy

This is usually not applicable to freelancers. If a freelancer is paid per hour and works more time than expected upon assignment, the pay rate simply reflects the extra amount of time worked. 

Compensation 

This will also vary, as some businesses prefer either hourly or per project rates. This is up to your preference.

Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure Agreements* 

Some businesses don’t need these forms, but for others, they’re absolutely vital. This is another step where legal advice and information is critical. 

There are many great templates to use if you don’t already have one, but no matter what you wind up using, it’s best to get it reviewed by a legal expert.

Benefits Information 

Information about benefits is not applicable to freelancers.

Dress Code 

Because freelancers typically work remote, this is not necessary.

Technology Policy 

The technology policy doesn’t apply in most cases. The exception might be if you have a freelancer who occasionally comes onsite and will need equipment, such as a computer.

Smoking/Alcohol Policy 

Not necessary.

Drug and Alcohol Test Consent Agreement 

Similar to the smoking and alcohol policy, there is typically not a drug and alcohol test consent agreement when hiring a freelancer because of their remote nature. 

Disciplinary Policy 

Because a freelancer will not be working in house full time, there is no need to explain a disciplinary policy. 

General Information* 

There’s usually a lot of basic administrative information that doesn’t fall into one of the aforementioned categories. This includes information about:

  • parking
  • building layout
  • supplies
  • equipment
  • visitor policy

The only reason to explain this information is in the event that the freelancer comes on site. 

Orientation

It’s a good idea to have an introductory onboarding meeting with a new freelancer. You can do this via video chat, phone, or email. 

You can explain: 

  • History and goals of your company
  • The company’s brand and what constitutes as off-brand 
  • Background and expectations of the assignment (including a deadline)

Ensure that you clearly outline your expectations, goals and deadline in concrete terms. When you’re working with remote employees, you can’t leave any stone unturned. 

A lack of communication between organizations and freelance workers will result in everything from time loss to delayed work.

This is why checking in regularly is a must. Make sure your freelance employees know when and how to check in with you.

Onboarding The Right Way

Using a new hire checklist is one of the best ways to onboard everyone smoothly. It’s an invaluable tool for bringing on new hires and getting them up to speed quickly and accurately.

Whether you’re a small business with a team to match or a growing company with a global presence, you need to onboard the right way. That means knowing exactly how to onboard, and that’s where this checklist comes in.

Don’t leave anything in the onboarding process up to chance. Take the initiative to make a custom new hire checklist to save yourself time, money, and consequences.

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Written By

Ian Chandler

Ian Chandler is the author of The No B.S. Guide to Freelance Writing and writes about marketing, entrepreneurship, and freelancing.