Best Practices

How to create a great onboarding checklist for new employees

As a new employee, the first few days (or weeks) at a new job has the potential to be awkward or confusing—but a well-organized onboarding experience can help minimize that.

For the HR manager in charge of welcoming every new hire, that well-organized onboarding experience takes a lot of work and upfront planning to pull together. From setting up lunches to legal paperwork, creating a great onboarding process can sometimes feel like it takes an organizational mastermind.

Fortunately for you, we’ve already done some of the heavy lifting. We’ve put together a basic onboarding checklist that you can build off of (and reuse with every new hire), as well as some fun ideas for welcoming new employees. We’ll also show you how to create a reusable onboarding template in Asana.

So go ahead, let your inner lazy-kid relax a little.

The basics: What every onboarding checklist should include

A basic onboarding checklist can help you save time thinking of all the things you need to do with each new hire, and not let the most important tasks fall through the cracks. While you may not be able to replicate everything for each new hire, some things—like ordering equipment or adding someone to payroll—will remain consistent.

What to do When to do it Why?
Order equipment for new employees The week before your new hire’s start date This way, your new employees can have everything they need (laptop, office key, etc.) right from day one.
Send a welcome email The week before your new hire’s start date Let your employees know what to expect on their first day of work.
Help them complete all HR, benefits, and payroll forms Week 1 (prepare beforehand) Create a list of all the paperwork you’ll need new hires to complete and help them get it done within their first week.
Office and building tour Day 1 Because knowing where to find the bathrooms is crucial (okay, okay, emergency exits too).
Schedule 1:1s with people they’ll work closely with Schedule them before they start for week 1 or 2 Give new hires a chance to meet their new coworkers and their roles while encouraging them to meet the team early on.
Go over company policies and share reference docs where possible Week 1 Clearly outline general, company-wide policies about PTO, HR guidelines, values, how we work, events, communication, etc.
Give training on commonly used tools Week 1 – 2 While some tools will be function-specific, make sure employees know standard protocol for company-wide tools (e.g. Asana or Slack).
Managers: block off time for functional training Week 1 – 2 Make sure new hires aren’t left hanging. Create plenty of space in their manager/mentor’s calendar for training directly related to their role.
Follow up and make sure they’re comfortable / not confused Week 4 Check in with them about a month out and make sure there are no lingering questions or concerns.

A warm welcome: fun ideas for onboarding new employees

Every onboarding process will look different, depending on your company’s size, culture, and other factors. So why not use the opportunity to inject a bit of your company’s personality and really say “welcome” to your new employees? Often, these fun little add-ons have the power to take a person’s first day on the job from good to great.

Below are some additional things we do here at Asana that you can adopt for your onboarding process:

  1. Welcome each new hire with a gift: Every new hire at Asana receives a small gift on their first day. A gift doesn’t have to be much; something small like a desk plant, a swag t-shirt, or a gift card to the coffee shop down the street can go a long way in making them feel at home.
  2. Celebrate and introduce new hires: On start days, the company is invited to a quick all-hands, where each new hire introduces themselves. It’s a great way for folks around the office to put names to new faces and learn a quick fact or two about new hires.
  3. Bring together old and new: Once a month, we invite new hires to interview employees celebrating their “Asanaversaries” to swap stories and meet each other.
  4. Help new hires get to know leadership: We host a quarterly Q&A with our founders for all recent new hires. They enjoy dinner at our founder’s house and get to know them in a casual setting.

Putting it all together: from onboarding checklist to template

Once you have an onboarding checklist in place, save it so you can replicate your process with every new employee. It’ll help you spend less time re-thinking the wheel, and more time doing what really matters: getting those new hires settled in!

“As a new employee, the first few days (or weeks) at a new job has the potential to be awkward or confusing—but a mindful and well-organized onboarding experience can help minimize that.”

At Asana we (naturally) use Asana to help onboard our newest teammates. While a doc works well for reference and policies, an Asana project is better suited for actionable tasks. New hires can see exactly what they need to complete and when, then mark things off as they go. Managers and mentors can set clear due dates, follow along with new hires’ progress, or answer any questions directly within the task.

Typically, we’ll have one project for the new hire and one project for the behind-the-scenes work for HR and managers.

Asana Premium users can even create a project and save it as a custom template for their team to quickly apply to projects.

onboarding template, onboarding checklist template

How to set up an onboarding project or custom template:

  • Create a project to use as your onboarding template. Name the project “[Name] HR Onboarding Template.” For every new employee, make a copy of this project and update the project name with their name.
  • Break up tasks into sections: Group them by chronological order, type of task, or whichever way that makes the most sense for your team.
  • Add tasks to each section like “Register for benefits,” “Enroll in our 401k plan,” “Connect company printers to your computer.” Provide clear instructions in the task description, attach any necessary files or links, and use @mentions to reference other tasks or projects. Assign tasks such as “Order computer” to someone in the right department.
  • Apply the template when a new hire starts and edit the name to include the new hire’s name. Then, add due dates for time-sensitive tasks, like signing up for benefits or payroll.
  • Consider creating two projects: Make one for the new hire, and one for the behind-the-scenes team who helps set them up. Add the new hire’s manager/mentor as a project follower for both.

Start your employees off on the right foot

The onboarding process is more than training. It also represents an opportunity to make a great first impression and, more importantly, has been proven to help companies retain employees (talk about responsibility!). It’s important for everyone at the company, not just the new hire, so getting it right is crucial. But don’t worry, you’ve got this!

Get our new employee onboarding template or discover more HR and onboarding templates.

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