Talent Management

The Ultimate New Employee Orientation Checklist

By | 6 min read | Published ; Updated on

A new employee orientation checklist can have a huge impact on your retention and employee turnover.

You might be an HR manager, but you’re also an employee. And that means you were once a new hire yourself.

Now try to imagine this scenario:

You labored over your resume and revised it several times before submitting it. You spent hours writing a killer cover letter. You bested the applicant tracking system. You nailed the interview, negotiated an offer, and bought a whole new work wardrobe. You’re excited for your new job.

But your first day doesn’t go as planned. No one explains anything to you. An HR assistant points you to your desk and walks away. There are no introductions, only a stack of papers on your desk that you assume you need to fill out. Are you even in the right place?

Don’t return to the “old” days of HR

As an HR manager — and even if you’re not — you probably can’t imagine subjecting a new employee to a first day like that. But what goes into a seamless new employee orientation? What should you do? And when? What does a new employee need to know?

Have you ever asked these questions and tried to make a list to anticipate a new employee’s every need, but ended up wondering, “What else?” If so, this list is for you: the ultimate new employee orientation checklist.

This list is not in order of priority. You know your company’s specific needs better than we do, so skip any item that doesn’t apply. Just be sure to pay extra attention to those that matter most, and consider topics you may have overlooked in the past.

Why do you need an employee onboarding checklist?

The benefits of an orientation checklist are numerous.

Consider what type of first impression you want to make. Think about information a new employee should know on their first day, first week, and first month. You want them to leave their first day feeling ready to come back and work for your company.

While much of the first impression involves other employees and the work itself, as the on-deck HR professional who serves as a first point of contact, you have a lot of control over the foot your company puts forward. In fact, the Human Capital Institute[1] states that experience-driven onboarding can improve employee retention by as much as 82%.

If you’re looking for a way to make your job easier, rockstar employee onboarding software may be the answer. Onboarding software is like a cheat sheet for tracking this process, but it does much more. Younger employees, particularly Millennials and Gen Zers, already know how to use technology and love the tools that make their lives easier.

Although you need to examine your processes to make new hire onboarding easier, a software platform is a great place to start.

How to use this new employee orientation checklist

Use this checklist in full or in part, depending on items and sections relevant to your company and your processes.

Make a copy of it. Email it to HR department employees. Talk about it in your weekly team meetings. Feel free to expand upon it or shrink it.

Company introductions

  • Business overview, purpose of the company, products/services offered
  • Corporate culture to get the vibe of the business.
  • Mission statement: why the company exists.
  • Hierarchy/departmental structure/org chart: a basic outline of who reports to whom.

Forms to complete (digital or paper)

  • Income tax withholding, e.g. W-4 or I-9
  • Background check form
  • Drug test form
  • Direct deposit form
  • Employee acknowledgment, agreement, and consent form (including an arbitration agreement)

Explanation of benefits and corresponding forms

  • Insurance: health/dental/vision/life/accident
  • Retirement, 401(k), IRA
  • Employee assistance program (EAP)
  • Childcare benefits
  • Parental leave/PTO/sick leave
  • Dependent care
  • Incentive and bonus programs
  • Contract, NDA, bonus structure, and pay statement
  • Employee wellness program
  • Training and continuing education
  • Stock options or profit sharing

Administrative processes and procedures

  • Office/desk/workstation
  • Computer username and password
  • E-mail
  • Keys/access card
  • ID badge
  • Safety and emergency procedures
  • Absences
  • Data security
  • Mail (incoming and outgoing)
  • Business cards
  • Purchase requests
  • Telephones
  • Conference rooms
  • Expense reports

Office policies

  • Anti-harassment/discrimination
  • Diversity/inclusion
  • Vacation and sick leave
  • FMLA/leaves of absence
  • Overtime
  • Dress code
  • Personal conduct standards
  • Progressive discipline
  • Termination standards
  • Security protocols
  • Confidentiality
  • Safety
  • Injury reporting
  • Emergency procedures
  • E-mail and internet usage
  • Building map (if applicable)

Building tour

  • Entrances and exits
  • Restrooms
  • Break rooms
  • Workstation, including the setup
  • Copy room
  • Mailroom
  • Vending machines
  • Water fountains
  • Office supplies
  • Emergency exits
  • Fire alarm pulls
  • Janitorial closet for spills
  • Conference rooms/meeting rooms
  • Staff introductions
  • HR team
  • Immediate supervisor
  • Colleagues with the same supervisor
  • IT team
  • Administrative staff
  • CEO/owner, if the company is small

Do you really need to do everything on this new employee orientation checklist?

No. We don’t know your company like you do. It’s up to you to pick and choose what elements of this list are valuable to you, and which things you can skip.

What’s on your new employee orientation checklist?

Anything we missed? Anything that you’d want to see on an updated list? Tell us about it in the comments below.


  1. Onboarding in the Experience Economy, Human Capital Institute

Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

About the Author

William Delong - Guest Contributor

William Delong - Guest Contributor

William is a professional writer and editor specializing in a variety of industries including legal, medical, marketing, and technology. He has over 13 years of experience delivering SEO-focused and engaging content.

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