A step-by-step guide for onboarding new hires

The onboarding process entails much more than just making sure your new hire has the right equipment and office space, although that’s certainly part of it. When done right, your onboarding process will affirm your new hire’s decision to join your team and set them up for success in their new role.


The onboarding process starts well before the new hire’s first day.

1. Get the seating and equipment logistics done

Decide where the new hire will sit. Set up their desk, computer, and cabinets. Ensure that their work area has sufficient lighting, network ports, and power outlets. Decide if their role requires a phone extension and voicemail. External-facing roles will need business cards. A few basic office supplies, such as pens and a pad, will keep the desk from looking bare. If your team has employee swag, leave these on the desk as well.

2. Get the paperwork signed

Send the new hire all the paperwork that they’ll need to sign before their first day. You want them to have sufficient time to read through everything and answer any questions they may have about the job before they start. Be sure to include employment contracts, confidentiality agreements, and any similar documents that you need for administrative and HR purposes.

3. Prepare the new hire’s 90-day plan

The 90-day plan outlines your new hire’s schedule for their first 90 days with your team. The plan also explains your expectations of the new hire’s role and serves as their primary reference during this period. The ideal 90-day plan will give your new hire a clear roadmap for assimilating into your team.

4. Give the team a heads-up

Send your current team members a quick email to let them know when your new team member will start, and encourage them to make an effort to welcome your new hire when they arrive. Inform office security or reception ahead of time so your new hire doesn’t have a hard time getting in on their first day.

5. Assign a buddy

Pick a member of your current team to be the new hire’s ‘buddy’ during their first 30 days. Choose someone who genuinely enjoys interacting with people and who embodies the culture that you want your team to have. The individual you choose will be the new hire’s de facto role model, so be sure to pick a buddy who has the right attitude for this assignment.


A great first day confirms for your new hire that they’ve made the right decision to join your team.

6. Get the new hire settled in

The buddy should meet the new hire on their first day, get them settled in, and be their go-to person for those “silly or lame” questions that the new hire would otherwise be too embarrassed to ask. The buddy should confirm that the new hire can find their assigned desk, log in and get on the network, and access your company’s main systems.

7. Conduct a quick tour of the office

Give your new hire a quick tour of the office to highlight the usual spots of interest: printer, copier, pantry, coffee machine, lunch room, snack bins, restrooms, and any other amenities. Introduce the new hire to people you happen to bump into along the way.

8. Hold your first one-on-one meeting

Use this first meeting to go over the 90-day plan together, with emphasis on the agenda of the new hire’s first week. Reiterate how thrilled you are that they’ve decided to join your team. Explain how their role contributes to the company’s purpose and mission. You want your new hire to leave this meeting feeling motivated, inspired, and excited to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

9. Send an intro email to the team

Send the new hire a welcome email and copy in your team members. Introduce your new hire by sharing a bit of their background. Explain what they’ll be working on and why you’re excited they’ve joined. Share the new hire’s 90-day plan with the rest of the team so they’ll know how best to help during this period of adjustment.

10. Organize lunch with the team

An informal lunch is a great way to break the ice with the rest of the team. You may need to limit the number of team members who will join to keep the group a manageable size and give everyone present a chance to chat with your new hire.

11. Provide an overview of your security practices

Your new hire will need to understand your security standards on day one. Such practices can include the use of an employee badge, a Virtual Private Network (VPN), password standards, additional security around customer payment data or similar sensitive information, as well as physical office security. Whatever your standard practices are, you’ll want your new hire to get up to speed ASAP.

12. Confirm that your new hire can access your internal systems

Every team will have a set of mailing lists, messaging and video-conferencing systems, chat rooms, and internal social networks. Make sure the new hire can access these and becomes familiar with them. The new hire should also have access to your team’s intranet or wiki so teammates can easily link them to a useful reference in your knowledge base. You should likewise grant access to internal systems, such as your help desk, your engineering ticketing system, or your sales and marketing portal.

Don’t try to cram too much into the first day. You want your new hire to leave work feeling invigorated, not overwhelmed.


Your objective during the first week is to introduce the new hire to your team’s major work processes in a lightweight, low-risk, and low-stress environment.

13. Add the new hire to all team meetings and set up one-on-one meeting schedules with their manager and direct reports

The assigned buddy should invite the new hire to all existing team meetings and schedule a recurring one-on-one meeting for the new hire with you.

If your new hire has a supervisory role, they’ll also need to have one-on-one meetings scheduled with their direct reports.

14. Schedule time for training and shadowing

Give your new hire access to training videos or enrol them in the relevant in-house classes that are relevant to their role. In the absence of training materials or classes, you may assign the new hire to shadow team members who are in similar and related roles. The schedule should have enough detail that the new hire knows who to speak with, where to go, and what to do.

15. Schedule a mid-week manager check-in

Towards the middle of the week, meet your new hire to check on their progress and identify any blockers that are slowing down their assimilation into the company. If you’ve planned their onboarding schedule and activities well, this meeting will be very positive and won’t take more than ten minutes.

16. Assign small but useful starter tasks

Assign carefully selected tasks to the new hire on their first week. These low-risk, low-complexity tasks are designed to help them learn about the company’s work processes. For example, ask the new hire to take notes for a team meeting. This assignment gives your new hire a chance to learn where your meeting templates and previous notes are stored. They’ll also become familiar with your team’s notes distribution process and your preferred method for tracking and reporting on the status of action items.

By the end of their first week, your new hire will have a good understanding of life as a member of your team. They’ll have more clarity about their role and how they’ll interact with other team members. They’ll have made new friends and learned more of your company’s culture. And they’ll be in a better position to contribute substantially in the coming weeks.


If you believe you’re too busy to be concerned about onboarding tasks, just think of how much time and energy it took to find and recruit your new hire. Then consider how much time, money, and effort you would have wasted if your new hire were to quit within the first year because of a poor onboarding process.

In research published by The Aberdeen Group, 86 per cent of survey participants agree that new hires will decide to stay or leave a company within their first six months, and companies who have best-in-class onboarding programs retain 91 per cent of their first-year employees, as opposed to only 30 per cent retention of first-year employees by companies who lag in onboarding practices.

Even more telling, companies with best-in-class onboarding practices reported that 62 per cent of employees hired in the last 12 months met performance milestones on time, as opposed to only 17 per cent of employees hired in the last 12 months by companies who lag in onboarding practices.

A longer version of this article first appeared at Medium.