Ensure a seamless transition from new hire to EMPLOYEE

New employees need more than just a packet filled with your company handbook and benefits information. A guided, structured onboarding process will help you nurture strong employees from day one and increase your retention rate.

If you’re looking to personalize your onboarding process, this guide will provide you the steps, templates, and checklists to create an exceptional onboarding experience that reflects the culture of your workplace.

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.
— Will Rogers

1. Make a Great First Impression

Employees are an essential part of any organization. Without them you have no culture, no product, and no customer service -- basically everything that makes up your business. That is why it’s so important to recruit and retain the best talent available. However, there’s a brief period of time called the onboarding process that bridges the gap between attracting talent and actually keeping it. This is the orientation period where your job candidates are integrated to become full-fledged employees. Gone are the days of simply handing them a packet of information overflowing with details about the company and paperwork for them to fill out. In today’s workplace, it falls on the company and, in turn, you, to ensure new hires have an amazing experience from the start.

It’s important to note that onboarding doesn’t simply start when the employee accepts an offer and end on their hire date. A quality onboarding program is a critical point in the talent life-cycle. Having a solid onboarding program not only improves the employee experience but also helps employee satisfaction and retention in the long run. There is a ton of research that shows some pretty alarming employee turnover statistics. For instance, about 20% of employees leave within their first 45 days of employment. Because of this, onboarding is becoming a more prevalent topic amongst HR professionals in recent years.

Onboarding is an important process that creates a smooth adjustment for new hires into the workplace. The process should start before the new employee arrives to the office and continue for at least 3 months after their starting date.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: first impressions matter. This is especially true when it comes to running a business. During the interview process, it falls on the candidate to win you over. However, once you extend an employment offer it becomes your job to convince them that they’ve made the right choice in choosing to be a part of your organization. From the moment the candidate accepts the position, you should be planning their onboarding process. An effective onboarding program positively impacts employee retention, employee morale, and, in turn, job performance and productivity. If you are new to this, you’re in luck! Dominion has created this guide to help you onboard all your new employees like a pro!

2. Pre-Onboarding

Pre-onboarding is often overlooked by employers, which is a big mistake. The pre-onboarding process is an introduction on what’s to come (i.e. the full onboarding experience). As we’ve already discussed, you should start the pre-onboarding process the minute the new hire accepts the job offer. During this period they will want to learn more about your organization, so help them out by providing links to blogs, newsletters, and company policies to get the ball rolling. At the very least, send them a welcome email so they feel welcome and included well before their first day on the job. Make sure to include their orientation schedule, a reminder of what materials to bring on their first day, and any other relevant information to help them feel prepared.

Here is a sample email template you can customize and send to your new hires before their first day:

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There are a few things you can do on your end about a week before your new employee’s starting date to help make their first day run as smooth as possible. To assist you with this, we have created a checklist you can follow!

Gather the Following Materials:

  • Your company’s employee handbook

  • A nameplate or employee ID

  • A calendar

  • Business cards

  • Necessary office equipment, such as a computer, phone, etc.

Prepare Their Work Area:

  • Assign the new hire a workstation

  • Gather reference material such as phone directory, organization charts, voice mail instructions, etc…

  • Put together some company gear such as t-shirts, pens, and mugs

Tasks for the Supervisor to Complete:

  • Organize a new hire lunch

  • Secure an email address and phone number

  • Schedule employee photos

  • Prepare an onboarding packet

  • Schedule trainings

  • Prepare a new hire introduction email

  • Add the employee to the online onboarding platform

Having an online onboarding platform is ideal for any business. It ensures that all employee data is secure and available at all times. So long as the onboarding platform you use pairs well with your payroll system, then all information entered into onboarding should automatically carry over to payroll and the Employee Self Service platform.

3. The First Day

The day has come and your new hire has arrived to your office for their orientation. By now you should have all the tasks on the previous checklist completed, making you and your team officially ready to welcome your new employee. Their desk is fully stocked with notepads and pens, there is a phone and directory ready for them, and their computer is all set for them to log in and get started.

Chances are, your new hire is going to walk in on their first day somewhat nervous, so help them feel comfortable as much as possible. Your primary goal for their first day is to make them feel welcomed, so follow these tips to help you do just that:

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Get to Know Them

If possible, take them out to lunch so you can talk about non-work related topics and get to know each other better. If taking them out isn’t feasible, sit with them during lunch or set up some time to chat throughout the day. At this point you are likely the only person whose name they even remember, so be invested in their life so they have a friendly face around the workspace.

Give Them a Tour

Show them the important areas around their workspace and introduce them to other individuals in the company. Since this is their first day, the new employees will need to know where to find certain people, the location of printers, the lunchroom, restrooms, supplies, and so on. By giving them a tour of the workspace, you are helping them feel more comfortable and allowing them to get acclimated with their new daily environment. During the tour, make sure you introduce them to key individuals in your company such as management, the receptionist, the HR Director, and of course, other individuals in their department.

Be Present

It’s really important that you are available at all times during the new hire’s first few days. Since you are probably the person who interacts the most with new employees, being available for them to ask questions and offer direction is important, so make them your top priority. If you have an office, keep your door open so they feel comfortable coming in and speaking with them. Also, make a point to swing by their workstation any time you’re out moving around to make sure everything is going well.

Be Creative with Orientation

No one wants to sit through hours and hours of a slideshow presentation. Instead, try making the new-hire orientation interactive. Come up with activities that they can do while learning about the company and their new role at the same time. Keep in mind that the new employees are receiving a lot of information, so it is helpful to divide the orientation into small segments. Create an agenda and try to stick to it throughout the day. The email template from Chapter 1 offers a great starting-off point for a New Hire Orientation Agenda!

4. The First Week

The first week continues to be an information overload for new employees. This is when most of their training happens, so remember to divide the sessions into small segments and to try to be fun and engaging. By the end of the first week, your new hires should understand most of what the company does and, most importantly, their role in the organization.


They should also be done with their self-onboarding process by this point. Employee self-onboarding is a way to streamline the process of adding the employee’s personal information into your payroll system. Once the company administrator approves the information the employee has provided, the employee will be all set up and ready to be paid! Not sure what information you need from your new hires? Here is a list that can help you out:

1. Social Security Number - This is used to verify that the employee is who they say they are.

2. Home Address - Not only is this a way to verify someone’s identity, but this information is also necessary to calculate any local taxes.

3. Date of Birth - This information is also used to confirm the employee’s identity. What’s more, you can add their birthday to the company calendar to help them celebrate on that day and make them feel appreciated.

4. Desired Payment Option - Depending on the method of payment your company offers, this information can range from desired mailing address for paper checks to bank information, such as account and routing numbers, for direct deposit.

5. Signed W-4 Form - The W-4 form is used to calculate how much federal income tax you need to withhold from your employee’s paycheck.

6. Signed I-9 Form - This form confirms that your new hire can legally work in the United States.

7. Identification - This can be their state ID, license, or passport.



Once you have everything you need from your new hires, it’s time to set up their goals. You should offer a clear description of what the new employee’s goals are, including the overall company goals, their specific departmental goals, and their own personal goals. This is the point where you impress upon the employee exactly what is expected of them, so make sure you articulate their goals very clearly. If your company has performance-based incentives, lay these out for the new hire so they know exactly what they need to do to receive their bonus.

5. The First Month

During the first month, the employee should become very aware of their performance compared to what is expected of them. This is the time where they continue to develop, learn about the organization, and build relationships with coworkers. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook quite yet. Make sure to do the following to ensure your new employee is comfortable in their new environment and able to do their job to the best of their ability:

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Stay in Contact

Throughout the first month, you should make a point to hold regular one-on-one meetings with your new hire, offering them timely and honest feedback about their work and requesting feedback in return about their experience as a new hire. In addition to these meetings, make sure you’re always available to answer any questions the employee might have. It takes over six months on average for an employee to feel fully comfortable in a new job, and the first month in particular can be incredibly stressful. Use this time to clarify the employees’ professional goals and make sure they have all the resources they need for success.

Keep the Employee Socialized

As the days turn into weeks, you should continue to introduce your new hire to the key players around the office. It really helps when hiring multiple people at the same time to pair them up so they have a friendly face who is undergoing the same experience as they begin their employment at your organization. However, you can’t always hire multiple people at a time, and even when you do you can’t always force a companionship to bud between two people. Because of this, you want to make sure you’re involved in each new hire’s socialization around the office. If our ultimate goal here is to decrease employee turnover, it’s easy to see how important it is for your employees to build positive relationships with others around the workspace.

Continue Professional Development

Your new hires are probably going to learn more over the first month at your organization than they will over the course of their entire first year. Because of this you want to make sure they’re learning in an effective manner that won’t cause them to burn out or miss learning vital information. It falls on you to nurture their professional development and ensure they receive all the proper trainings in order for them to succeed in their new position.

Since it is so common for employees to leave within the first 45 days of employment, this is the time for you to be as hands-on as possible. This does not mean you should micromanage them, as that will undoubtedly have the opposite effect, but rather make sure they know they can come to you and create an environment where they feel comfortable.

6. The First Three Months

The first quarter is the time when the employee becomes fully aware of their responsibilities. They will finally start to work independently and produce solid, productive work. They should be feeling comfortable in their new space and become fully acclimated to their environment. Unfortunately, you’re still not off the hook. You should certainly be more hands-off by now, but that doesn’t mean you should completely abandon them and move on to the next new hire. Keep these tips in mind to ensure the continued success of your new hire:

Keep in Touch

The one-on-one meetings you were holding throughout the new hire’s first month should continue, albeit not as regularly. It’s important that you continue to provide and receive feedback from your new hire in order to improve the overall process and ensure the employee is performing at maximum capacity. At the three-month anniversary of their hire date, set up an informal performance review. Make sure they have plenty of work to keep them challenged, but not too much to the point where they’re approaching burnout. This is also a good time to look at those goals you set up in their first week. Are they on pace to meet them? If not, what could they be doing differently?

Further Socialization

By now your employee should have a decent idea about who everyone around the office is, so there isn’t much you have to do on that end. However, you should still check in with the employee to make sure they’re feeling comfortable at their workstation. If possible, get a group to go out to lunch or do an after work happy hour so the new hire can have a chance to get to know other employees in a more relaxed atmosphere. You can also have the employee shadow meetings with key employees in order to get further exposure to how things work around the office.

Offer Additional Trainings

Hopefully at this point your employee is aware of what they don’t know. After they’ve had a few months to get acclimated to the job, extend an offer for them to undergo further trainings in areas they don’t feel totally comfortable with. Providing additional learning opportunities is a great way to nurture quality employees and show your investment in their professional development.


7. The First Six Months

By this time, I’m happy to say, your job is nearly done. Your not-so-new hire has gained the momentum to produce quality content, take the lead on various projects, and has built quality relationships with their colleagues. The employee comes to work feeling confident in their duties and is meeting their goals on a regular basis. That being said, you still have a few responsibilities to this employee, so don’t wipe your hands clean of them just yet.

Final Responsibilities

At this point you likely have other new hires that need your attention, but we don’t want to forget about our current employees. You should be conducting performance reviews for your employees at least every six months. These offer great opportunities to review the progress of all your employees, assist in their professional development goals, and receive feedback about how you’re doing. It might seem daunting to do this every six months for every employee, but there is innumerable amounts of data to back up how valuable these performance reviews can be

8. Future Success

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At the end of the day, it’s pretty clear that onboarding new employees is no easy task. There is a lot of work that goes into it and it can be easy to fall back into bad habits. However, as they say, the best defense is a good offense.

If you tackle each new hire with a strong determination to help them succeed and even thrive within your company, you’ll find your retention rates will increase and your employees will be producing a higher quality of work. So next time somebody drops a packet of new employee paperwork on your desk, be excited at the prospect of putting your new onboarding process into place! Your employees deserve it.

Luckily for you, Dominion offers an Onboarding software that will simplify your onboarding process and ensure a smooth transition from new hire to employee. With Dominion’s product, you can create custom tasks to ensure every step listed out above is finished accurately and efficiently. What’s more, all of the new hire documents are completed and submitted electronically. This will not only save time for all parties involved, but also allows all the employee information to transfer automatically into your payroll.

Let us show you why an onboarding software can make hiring new employees a breeze. Request a free personalized demo today!