10-Step employee onboarding checklist for SMEs

Published on 05/04/2022 by Anna Hammond and Ojasvini

This article was originally published on 23/10/2019.

This article will discuss tips to create a new hire onboarding checklist for small to midsize enterprises (SMEs). We will also talk about the steps involved in the pre-onboarding of a new employee, along with the functions of onboarding software.

Onboarding software help organisations digitally run the process of welcoming a new employee

The first few days of a new job might not be a piece of cake for everybody. For businesses, it might be essential to provide a good level of support to the new joiner the moment they are welcomed into the job. An effective onboarding process, in such circumstances, can potentially help new employees and organisations maintain a balance of trust and ease. According to Business News Daily, poor onboarding can cost a business 100-300% of an employee’s total salary. This study could indicate that effective onboarding can help organisations save costs and retain talent. 

In this era of digitalisation and in view of the ongoing pandemic, appropriate onboarding software can help SMEs digitally and efficiently onboard a new employee likely while simultaneously considering all legal and other company requirements.

Onboarding software and their functions

Onboarding software are tools that help organisations potentially reduce the need for paper forms and digitally run the process of welcoming new employees. Such software helps recruiters and managers enhance the onboarding experience for new joiners while effectively walking them through all the required training processes. Some of the essential features of onboarding software —as per Capterra— include:

  • Generating digital or electronic forms that can be shared and accessed by the new joiners
  • Helping employees digitally sign all the required documents
  • Automating sharing of essential training courses and assigning them to new hires
  • Giving access to company-specific software to new employees for verifying their identity online
  • Providing a role-designated repository of files containing all business-related documents

New hire pre-onboarding checklist for SMEs

Ideally, companies should prioritise social connectivity with a new hire from the very start. The process should begin from the moment you present the successful candidate with a job offer. Below are some suggestions for a pre-onboarding checklist small businesses can follow.

1. Prepare and share the offer letter and other documents

After successful candidate selection, the first step would be to prepare and share the offer letter after confirmation from the recruiter or the manager. The receiver should ideally acknowledge the offer letter in writing to move forward with the onboarding process.

2. Notify team members beforehand 

The manager should notify all the team members beforehand about selecting a specific candidate and their date of joining. This step would ensure that all team members are aware of the new hire and can thereby help in the onboarding process. 

3. Prepare a welcome kit

This might seem like an early step, but it could be beneficial to prepare a welcome kit containing all the required forms —such as payroll-related forms— the organisation chart, the company handbook including all policies and benefits, and other essential documents to ensure that the new joiner has access to all the information they need.

10-Step onboarding checklist for SMEs

As per a report by News.com.au, one in five Australians have resigned from their jobs in 2021. This study could indicate that organisations may be required to improve their policies and processes and make the workplace more conducive to retaining talent. In such a case, laying out an efficient onboarding plan could be a starting point, whether the new joinee is coming onboard physically or virtually. Below, we have given a 10-step onboarding checklist that small businesses can consider.

1. Provide a welcome kit to the new employee

Share the welcome kit with the new employee that you may have prepared in the pre-onboarding stage. Ideally, it should include all the relevant paperwork and offer information about the organisation. A new employee should be given sufficient time to take in all the information and fill out the required forms. You could also prepare a virtual tour for the employee to show what the office looks like. 

2. Give general instructions for using relevant applications

There could be some applications and software that might be specific to your organisation. It would be best to give a general overview of the applications that your particular business works with. For instance, some companies might prefer using Gmail or Hangouts, while others prefer working on Outlook or Teams. Alternatively, for such admin related things, you could also consider using HR software using which most such process can be managed within one system.

3. Have a formal company orientation

The organisation should hold a formal company orientation, which should cover important points such as company culture, its history, its policies, and the benefits that the employee would be entitled to. The orientation should ideally be held on the employee’s first day or within the first week. You could display the information in a document, PDF, or use data visualisation tools to create a visual representation.

4. Communicate company expectations and requirements

The next step would be to communicate your company’s expectations and define their job responsibilities. The employee may or may not be experienced within your industry. Hence, it would help if you could communicate —maybe with the help of an organisational chart— which employees they would be closely working with and what may be expected of them in terms of work performance. 

5. Discuss a clearly defined growth plan

It might be very important for your new hire to understand your company values and focus on their individual growth. It would help to create a well-structured and clearly defined growth plan that would outline the employee’s goals and responsibilities. You could potentially talk about introducing specific developmental courses in the future for the employee’s overall growth. For instance, a course in advanced creative design might help someone working as a graphic designer. 

6. Introduce the new hire to the whole team

One of the most important steps in the onboarding process would be to introduce the new hire to their immediate team and the broader connected team. This step might help the employee get familiar with the environment and might also give an idea about which concerned person to contact for a particular question or situation. It might also be important that the employee is onboarded onto your team’s communication platforms to help team members effectively communicate with each other. 

7. Provide role-focused training and compliance sessions

Throughout the first month of employment, the new hire should be given specific role-focused training to help them engage more deeply with their particular role. For instance, a writer should be given different pieces of training related to search engine optimisation (SEO), keyword research, strategical writing, creative writing, and content quality. The organisation should also provide compliance sessions to employees for meeting all legal standards.

Ideally, training should be face to face. Still, when this isn’t possible —as in the case of remote working— there are plenty of virtual educational platforms and learning management software to help employees develop skills.

8. Set up regular interactions to check-in with new joiners

As the new employee gets settled into their role, it might be important to schedule regular meetings to check if everything is going smoothly for them. You could also ask them for feedback or suggestions related to upcoming projects or ensure that they have any other tools or resources they might need to be more productive. 

9. Assign a buddy or mentor for guidance and support

Another important step in the onboarding process would be to assign a mentor or buddy who could assist the employee during any potential difficulties. This step could also help take due care of the employee’s mental health as the buddy could be the go-to person for the duration of the onboarding process. According to a survey by Capterra, ‘nearly a quarter of employees (24%) surveyed admitted that they do not talk to their employer about their mental health issues because they do not feel comfortable enough’. Perhaps assigning a buddy to gain trust could help in such a case. 

10. Give a practice assignment prior to starting actual projects

The last step in the onboarding phase could be giving the employee a homework assignment before working on an actual project. For instance, a new joiner for the role of social media strategist can be given practice assignments such as creating graphic elements, writing sample hashtags for YouTube and Twitter, or creating short pitches for Instagram and Facebook posts and stories. This might help you address any potential issues that the new employee might be facing. 

In conclusion

We have tried to include all the crucial aspects of the onboarding process within this article. However, you can create a customised version for individual hire cases. These onboarding checklists might help small businesses build long-term collaboration with their employees.

Looking for onboarding software? Check out our catalogue!

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Content Analyst for Australia. Focusing on insights about software technolgies critical to SMEs. Insipred by growing tech trends and how these help SMEs to grow.

Content Analyst for Australia. Focusing on insights about software technolgies critical to SMEs. Insipred by growing tech trends and how these help SMEs to grow.


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