Retention Starts on Day 1 – An Onboarding Checklist

two women shaking hands. One is sitting on a bench, the other is standing, title - Day 1

When a new employee is introduced into your company they won’t know what to expect. The first few months will set the tone, positive or negative, for the rest of that employee’s experience with your business.

Imagine investing the time and money it takes to interview and hire a new employee and then to lose them because their relationship with your company started off on the wrong foot. Suddenly, your investment is gone and you have to start the process over completely. Sound’s like a nightmare right? Sadly, this happens all of the time.

Employers and hiring managers can prevent this risk by using our onboarding checklist. When you plan ahead, you give yourself the freedom to personalize the little details of the onboarding process.

Here’s a Basic Onboarding Checklist


You’ve hired a new employee and set a start date. Send them your employee handbook, tax information, and any other forms they need to read and/or fill out well before the first day. Make sure the new-hire’s workspace (computer, email, phone, etc.) are also set up and ready-to-go before the first day.

Email the heads of your departments so they are aware of the new employee’s first day and ensure they are prepared to introduce themselves. You also may want to assign a “buddy” or someone the employee can ask questions.

Consider sending your newbie a list of frequently asked questions, including answers. If you can, also send them any information about the company. Videos of current employees talking about what it’s like to work there is a great idea. Get your new employee excited for their first day!


Greet your new employee first thing and show them to their workspace. Many employers choose to give “goody-bags” to new-hires with company branded items as a welcoming gift.

Give a tour of the building and introduce them to the people they will be directly working with, their “buddy” or the person assigned to answer any questions, and all heads of important departments.

Don’t forget to show them the little things like where the copier is located and how it works. Many people won’t feel comfortable asking these questions and will waste time trying to figure it out themselves.

Try not to overload them with information. I recommend sitting down (maybe provide lunch on their first day) and ask if they have any questions. This is also a good time to clarify expectations and daily tasks.


Ask your new-hire how they like to be managed. What qualities do they find important in their supervisors. Ask about their expectations here, what their ideal workspace looks like, etc. See if they have any concerns and do your best to clear up any confusion.

Sometimes you can’t change management styles to fit their preference but asking these questions show’s that you want to do your best for them. These little things can really help a new employee feel comfortable and welcome.

Follow Through

The onboarding checklist should be referenced through their first few months at your company. This is where a buddy or recruiting manager can be useful. They have developed a relationship with the new employee over the last few months and can report to you about their progress and give you a feel for how successful the transition has been.

Meet with your new employee and find out what they think of their first few months. See if you can answer any questions and ask for feedback. You should let them know exactly how their productivity has met, exceeded, or maybe not quite matched your expectations. If all goes well, show appreciation and tell them what impact their work has had on your business.

When new employees feel like their presence is anticipated, they will be motivated to prove they are worth the investment.

Looking for more ways to improve the retention rates in your business? Your onboarding process plays a huge part, but what about the employee’s you already have? Things like generational differences, benefits, and personal priorities all impact retention. Download our free eBook 25 Employee Retention Ideas and learn how you can keep your employee’s happy in your company.

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