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New Employee Onboarding Checklist

Published April 6, 2021 (last updated on June 10, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator


So, you’ve decided on a new recruit. Congratulations! You want them to get into the swing of things as quickly as possible. And one of the best ways to do that is to put together a new hire onboarding checklist. This blog will help you through putting together a checklist to make sure you give your new employee the best start possible.

Onboarding Best Practices

There is no ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ way to onboard a new employee. There is a ‘best’ way that works for you or your business. Every business is different, of course, but many other business owners and employers have been in your shoes before and through trial and error a consensus on what you broadly should and shouldn’t do has been reached.

Before Their First Day

1. Communicate To The Team.

Before the new hire joins your existing team – if applicable – let your team know of their pending arrival. Describe the role the person is filling, how they will fit into the broader picture, why you chose this person, and – of course – how excited you are to have them on board.

2. Prepare New Hire Paperwork.

Prepare the employment agreement and any supporting documents (e.g. Handbooks or policies), and share them with your new recruit beforehand so that they can sign and return any documents before they start.

This is particularly important if you have agreed to a trial period with the new employee, as this must be agreed to and recorded in the employment agreement before the employee starts their employment.  The agreement must specify an exact time period of up to 90 days and state that during that time the employer can dismiss the employee without the employee being able to lodge a claim regarding the dismissal. If the employee has not signed the agreement before they commence in the role, they may be able to lodge a personal grievance on the grounds of unjustified dismissal if you terminate their employment.

So if you have agreed on a 90 day trial period with the new employee, it’s crucial to make sure this is included in the employment agreement before they start working. This allows you to dismiss the employee during the trial period without them being able to make a claim regarding the dismissal.

This is also a good opportunity to get them to fill out any forms (e.g. personal and emergency contacts details and payroll information) and provide any other information required for their employee record so that they can hit the ground running on their first day.

Peninsula recommends you put together an Employee Handbook. This Handbook sets out the employer’s rules and regulations, and policies and procedures relating to the new hire’s employment. You can use our BrightHR software to store all these signed documents and also track the new employee’s entitlements when they start.

3. Procure Equipment.

The employee will likely need equipment, supplied by you, to perform their role. This can include anything from tools and stationery to things like computers and printers. You may also need or want to provide clothes to your employees such as uniforms, PPE, helmets and so on.

4. Set Up Accounts And Create Logins.

Do you have digital systems that your employee may need access codes for? Or, do you have security systems that your employee may need to unlock to perform their role?

5. Set Up The Workspace.

Help your new hire hit the ground running by setting up their workspace so they can get to work straight away.

6. Give Them A Buddy or a Tuakana.

Organise another one of your employees to be a ‘buddy’ for your new recruit to show them the ropes and help them fit in at their new workplace.

Their First Week

1. Map Out Their First Day Plan.

Smooth out your new employee’s first day with a plan on their first day. After all, doing so will help you optimise getting them on board and will give them a first impression of your business as being organised. Consider: What are you going to show them, and in what order? What’s the best way of explaining the company to the new hire? How will you introduce them to their team?

2. Set Aside Induction and Training Time.

Your employee may need a few days to get across everything they need to know about the business and their new role. Also, you don’t want to overwhelm them with new information. Organise time for you, your existing employees or the new hire’s buddy to take the new recruit away from their workstation to train them in the company’s operations or culture at different points throughout their first week, or use our BrightSafe software to deliver health and safety training online.

3. Check In With Them At The End Of The Week.

At week’s end, check in with your employee. Ask them how they’re finding their new job, if anything is unclear or confusing, and make sure you answer any queries or provide extra support or training if necessary. You want to make sure the employee turns up for their second week – you don’t want them to become part of the 16% of employees who quit in week one.

The New Hire’s First Year

Trial Periods And Probation Management

As an employer, when you first employ your employee you can agree to a trial period of up to 90 days if the employee has never worked for the employer before and you have 19 or fewer employees, or alternatively you can agree to a period of probation. A probationary period gives you the opportunity to assess whether your new employee is capable, reliable, and suited to the role.  

Both the trial and probation period must be clearly recorded in the employment agreement, but a probationary period differs from a trial period in that the employee cannot be dismissed without good reason and the employer should still follow a fair process for dismissal if employment is ended during the probationary period, or the terminated employee may raise a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.

Make clear what you expect from the employee with regards to the job during the probationary period and let them know if there are any issues.. Provide the appropriate training and give the employee an opportunity to improve to meet the required standard before the end of the probationary period.

Professional Development

Does your new hire have all the skills required to do the job? Or, during their initial employment, have you realised that a skill is needed that you hadn’t considered previously? Further still, does your business require specialised skills that you need to train them in?

Professional development is something you should consider for all your employees, but particularly for new hires in their first year.

First Anniversary

Don’t forget to celebrate your new hire’s first anniversary either. A little reminder like this can go a long way to cultivating a good workplace culture, maintaining a happy workplace, and employee retention.

This blog has been compiled on the basis of general information current at the time of publication and reflects an opinion only and is not intended to provide anything other than an opinion at any time. Your specific circumstances as well as any changes in circumstances after publication may affect the relevance, completeness or accuracy of this information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, we disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions contained in this information or any failure to update or correct this information. It is your responsibility to assess and verify the accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability of the information on this website, and to seek professional advice where necessary. Nothing contained on this website is to be interpreted as a recommendation to use any product, process or formulation or any information on this website. For clarity, Peninsula does not recommend any material, products or services of any third parties.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is Onboarding An Employee Important?

Onboarding or Inducting an employee is important for a few reasons. It is an efficient way of introducing the employee to the business and communicating company values and behaviours; educating your new hire about their role within the wider business operations and setting expectations; and it is a great opportunity to make the employee feel welcome and create a good first impression of the business, potentially leading to greater employee retention.

What Kind Of Information Should My New Hire Checklist Contain?

Your new hire checklist should contain information about the following, however this list is not exhaustive:

  • The role
  • The team
  • Reporting processes
  • The equipment, training or tools needed for the job
  • Hours of work and breaks
  • Company policies and procedures
  • Reward and recognition schemes
  • The company’s values and expectations
  • The company’s operations
  • The company’s history
  • Health and Safety
  • And anything else relevant to the employee’s employment
What Information Do You Need From A New Employee?

When you bring on a new employee, you will need to gather the following details and documents:

  • A written (and signed) employment agreement and associated documents eg. position description
  • Bank account details in order to coordinate payroll
  • A completed Tax code declaration form and Kiwisaver information
  • Contact details for the employee as well as for an emergency contact.

Any relevant qualifications or details you need in order for them to do their job (e.g. a copy of their driver’s licence if they are required to drive as part of their role).

Should My Small Business Use A New Employee Checklist?

Peninsula recommends that your small business should use a new employee checklist. It is an easy and efficient way of organising everything you may need when hiring a new staff member.

What Should My Employee Onboarding Process Look Like?
  1. Communicate details of the new hire to the existing team;
  2. Prepare all new starter paperwork;
  3. Prepare a first day plan;
  4. Set-up the new employee’s workspace and provide any equipment  or tools required such as a computer, desk and/or PPE;
  5. Set up accounts and/or logins
  6. Assign a ‘buddy’
  7. Take time to explain any company policies, ground rules and expectations
  8. Explain performance expectations and set goals
  9. Arrange introductions with team members
  10. Set aside time for training, including any safety inductions
  11. Check in regularly
  12. Monitor performance and provide feedback where required.
How Long Should It Take A New Hire to Get Up to Speed?

It depends on the role, the business and your induction process. It may take longer for new employees in management roles to get up to speed than for those employed in an entry-level role.

How Do I Onboard A New Employee Remotely?
  • Complete all new starter paperwork online, or via mail
  • Prepare a first day plan
  • Send out any equipment so that it can arrive prior to their first day
  • Ask the new hire to complete a home working risk assessment to identify if they require any additional equipment or alternative arrangements to ensure they have a safe ergonomic set-up
  • Set up all accounts and/or logins
  • Use videoconferencing as much as possible for training and orientations
  • Arrange virtual catch-ups with all of their new team members
  • Take extra time to explain the company culture, key persons, and ‘how things get done’, as it can be harder to pick these things up remotely
  • Set clear performance expectations and check in on performance and work regularly
  • Set aside dedicated time each day for your new hire to ask questions
  • Arrange some informal catch-ups with the team – for example, a virtual lunch or coffee catch up
How Long Is the Onboarding Process?

This is an open-ended question. The length of an onboarding process depends on what works for your business. However, Peninsula recommends the onboarding process encompasses the first week of the employee’s employment.

Who Is Responsible for Employee Onboarding?

If you are a small business and do not have an HR team,  then you as the business owner,  the manager of the business (if applicable) or the new employee’s future manager (if applicable) should be responsible for the employee’s onboarding. Peninsula recommends that the onboarding process should be generalised for every new employee if possible, so that their experiences are standardised, induction materials can be reused and nothing is missed in the delivery.

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