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Employee Onboarding Guide and Template

Employee Onboarding Process: A Complete Guide + Template

After hiring and onboarding dozens of employees in various capacities, I’ve succeeded in figuring out what works. But I’ve also succeeded in figuring out what doesn’t.

To figure out what great employee onboarding looks like without having to learn the hard way as I did, I spent hours doing the research for you.

Here’s how you can skip the trial and error system I used to figure out new employee onboarding.

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What Is New Employee Onboarding?

What is Employee Onboarding

New employee onboarding is the process of getting your new hire acclimated to your team, helping them understand what is expected of them, and providing them with all of the tools necessary to do their best work.

This process can take anywhere from one day to years (though it typically takes around 3 months) and includes going over benefits and policies, signing contracts, getting them on payroll, and getting them set up with any technology or passwords necessary for them to work.

Onboarding also includes all of the fun meet-and-greet stuff and introducing employees to your company’s core values and vision for the future.

What Should Employee Onboarding Accomplish?

By the end of their onboarding process, your new hire should feel well-informed about all of your company’s policies, know what is expected of them, and feel ready to start training.

New employees should also be well-acquainted with your company’s core values and culture. They should feel like they are a welcomed part of the team and, of course, feel excited to be a part of the company.

Why Is Employee Onboarding So Important?

Why Is Employee Onboarding Important

Employee onboarding is important not only for your company’s numbers but also for creating meaningful relationships with employees where they feel motivated to do their best work.

Here are a few other reasons that employee onboarding is crucial to the success of your team.

Reduce Turnover

If you’re looking to build a truly successful company, you need quality employees to stick around and grow with you. Not to mention 3 months of onboarding is an investment that you’d probably like to see a return on.

Studies show that nearly 20% of all turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment. And that’s probably because you didn’t make a great first impression with your onboarding process.

Decreasing turnover saves you time and money.

Increase Employee Satisfaction

When your employees are happy, everybody’s happy.

Having a well-crafted, intentional, and comprehensive onboarding process can make new employees feel welcome and prepared to do their job.

Nobody likes being thrown into something without enough knowledge to perform confidently. Having a consistent onboarding process sets them up for success and makes them feel more confident.

This employee satisfaction also leads to employee retention. Great onboarding makes 69% of employees more likely to stay with your company for three years.

Increase Productivity

Employees that don’t know what they’re doing aren’t able to be productive. In fact, the average employee wastes over 100 minutes searching for information necessary to do their job. Sometimes this means searching on their own and sometimes asking other employees for clarification, wasting even more time.

Having a good onboarding process can bring 50% more new-hire productivity.

If you take the time upfront to slow down and make sure the information is absorbed by your new hire, you can save a lot of time down the road and increase overall productivity.

What You Need to Do Before New Employee Starts

What To Do Before Employee Starts

Onboarding starts before your new employee even walks in the door.

In the week leading up to your new employee’s first day, make a checklist to make sure that you aren’t scrambling last minute when your new hire shows up.

A few things that you need to take care of before your employee shows up.

New Hire Paperwork

All that fun stuff needs to be taken care of before your new hire gets to work includes:

  • Original Offer Letter
  • I-9 (Employee Eligibility Verification Form)
  • IRS Tax form W-4
  • Direct deposit form
  • Benefits forms and paperwork

If possible, send all of this paperwork digitally as soon as you get confirmation that the employee has accepted their offer. This can save time on that first day and save the trees!

Early Communication

Start your relationship with your new employee off on the right foot by reaching out personally before day one.

Send emails fairly regularly before that first day to keep them engaged and help them feel prepared and welcomed.

It’s also important to anticipate any questions that they may have about their new job and preemptively answer them.

Important topics to cover regarding day one include:

  • Where exactly they need to be
  • What time they need to be there
  • Who they will be meeting with/who will be training them
  • Anything they need to do in preparation before they start
  • Anything they may need to bring with them to work on day one

Getting them Set Up for Success

Prepare their workspace, both digital and physical.

Get any office supplies they will need to do their job, clean off the desk, office, or cubicle that they’ll be working in, create accounts for them for any software systems they will need to use, create their work email, and assign any work-related technology they need (computers, tablets, etc.)

Use a Guide

Using something like Trainual is a great way to prepare for onboarding before that new employee walks through the door.

It’s the perfect way to get organized ahead of time.

Employee Onboarding Process: The First 3 Months

Alright, you did your homework, and you’re ready for your employee to come on board!

Let’s look at what those first three months should look like.

First Day Onboarding Checklist

Employee Onboarding First Day

Day one of onboarding is your only chance to make a first impression, so make sure you have all of these systems in place.


Orientation is often confused with onboarding, but they are two different things entirely.

Orientation is only step one and a lot of it can be done online in the pre-start communication with your employee. This includes things like paperwork, initial training videos, introducing them to the team, and completing any of those first-day tasks required.

Onboarding is a longer process that includes teaching new employees everything they need to know about the company, all of the functions of their position, and pretty much everything necessary to do their job well.


Setting expectations and a clear calendar can help new employees prepare for their early journey with your company. The 30-60-90 plan is a way to break up onboarding into smaller subsections and clarify expectations for each step.

This plan entails breaking down action items into a 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day plan for your new employee.

On day one, have the manager meet one-on-one with the new hire and go over this 30-60-90 plan.

Reaching each new milestone can motivate new employees to see how far they’ve come in their training journey.

Set Up Accounts

Chances are, your new employee will need accounts to access information relevant to every aspect of their job and their training.

Set up every new email and user account that your new hire will need on the first day to make getting started on subsequent days easier.

First Week Onboarding Checklist

Employee Onboarding First Week

You made it past the first day. Now what?

These are some tasks that you need to prepare your new employee for within their first week at your company.

New Hire Announcements

Let everyone on your team know about your new team member.

This can be done in an email to the company or, better yet, announcing it to the office in person.

Meet & Greets

Help your new hire feel like a real member of the team by introducing them to everyone.

This may take a bit depending on everyone’s schedule, but you should try to get your new employee acquainted with any employees they will be working with in the first week of their employment.

First Few Months Onboarding Checklist

Employee Onboarding First Months

The first few months of the onboarding checklist will include different tasks depending on your company, but after the first week of introducing your new employee to everyone and getting them set up with paperwork and their space, it’s time for training.

Onboarding Training

For the first three months, you will need to catch them up to speed with just about everything.

This includes training them on all policies and procedures, getting them acquainted with how to work with the necessary technology, and transitioning them into their position on your team.

Throughout the onboarding process, it’s important to check in periodically and make sure that training is being communicated to them in a way that makes sense to them. Make sure not to overload new employees with too much information, since that could have an adverse effect.

Remember that you both ultimately have the same goal. You want them to succeed and stay with the company, they want to do well and stay with the company. Facilitate a nurturing environment where they feel comfortable asking for clarification.

Get Feedback After Employee Onboarding

Once your employee is fully onboarded and a functioning member of the team, ask them for feedback on how their onboarding process went.

This gives you the opportunity to make note of what worked and any areas that need improvement, and it makes them feel like they have a voice. Knowing that their opinion is valued will make them happier to work there.

How to Setup an Employee Onboarding Process

How to Setup Employee Onboarding

Now comes the hard part. Or does it have to be?

You could spend days (maybe weeks) getting together with your HR department and trying to figure out what all needs to be covered in employee onboarding, what order to do things, and a good process to get every different role set up for success.

You will need to start with a general welcome email/video template for all new hires.

Set up a way for new employees to fill out all necessary paperwork for employment and explain concepts like company policies, HR protocols, and any special work traditions.

You also need to make sure that you have a system for training in place with a certain timeline and regular meetings with management to measure performance.

Specific training will also need to be set up for each role in your company.

If this sounds like a lot… it kind of is.

Luckily, there are plenty of onboarding templates available for use to streamline your onboarding process and make it as efficient as possible.

Why Use an Employee Onboarding Template?

Using an employee onboarding template is the easiest and best way to create an employee onboarding process that covers everything your new hires need to know to increase their likelihood to become more productive and happier team members.

Having a solid SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for onboarding will make everyone's life much easier.

A good employee onboarding template will help guide you through everything from pre-onboarding messages and paperwork to post-onboarding feedback requests and first-year check-ins.

An employee onboarding template could also be used for a general company onboarding process and more specific onboarding processes specific to each role in your company.

Why We Recommend Trainual

Why we Recommend Trainual

Our pick for the best employee onboarding template is Trainual [Read our review here].

The best part about their intuitive and all-inclusive onboarding template is that it saves you the time it would take to start from scratch.

You can use their onboarding template to create a process that automatically checks all of the boxes of a comprehensive onboarding process.

Plus, these templates are completely customizable. Each company has unique needs and company policies that relate to its specific business. With Trainual, you can edit their onboarding template to the specifications you like, both for general company onboarding and specific processes for each role.

Trainual also offers over 130 templates that you can add to your account, allowing you to keep all training processes in one central location for easy access.

Another helpful feature available to you when using Trainual is documentation. You can document everything about your employees from accepting their offer letter to their last day with your company. This allows you to see for yourself how much having an effective onboarding process is helping your company retain happy, productive employees.

Sounds pretty great, right? Try it for yourself.

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Get Started With Trainual's Employee Onboarding Template

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How to Use Trainual Employee Onboarding Template

Trainual Onboarding Template

To make the best of an employee onboarding template, you need to know how to use it most effectively.

Luckily, that’s pretty easy.

With Trainual, your template is pretty much already set up with all of the necessary information to get you started. All that you need to do is utilize the features to keep track of everything.

Make sure to use “save offer letter” for each new hire that has accepted their position. Once they’ve given you that confirmation, create a new account for your new employee to begin their onboarding process.

Next, create a new employee task list to make sure that you have a path created for your employee. Use this task list to schedule out all of the onboarding activities your new employee will need to complete.

Now that all of that pre-boarding work is done, use the welcome email template to get your new hire excited for their first day. Use the schedule and task list to make sure that your new employee learns everything they need to know to do their job to the best of their ability.

Aside from the basic functions, you are free to edit and customize your onboarding process however you would like.

Get Free Set-Up Support

In addition to great templates and features, Trainual also offers set-up support.

Partner with an implementation specialist to learn how to most effectively use your account. They’ll work with you one-on-one to streamline all aspects of set-up, including documenting, best practices, moving content, creating training content, training your team on using the platform, and more.

The dedicated set-up support makes Trainual even easier to integrate and ensures your team gets the most from the platform.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is responsible for creating an employee onboarding process?

The hiring supervisor or human resources are usually responsible for creating an employee onboarding process.

What should be included in a new employee onboarding template?

A new employee onboarding template should include a place to keep an offer letter, a welcome email, all paperwork and company policies, a task list, and a way to schedule out all necessary onboarding activities and meet and greets.

How long does the onboarding process take?

The onboarding process can take anywhere from a day to a year but typically takes about 3 months.

How do I create an employee onboarding plan?

You can create an employee onboarding plan by laying out all necessary information and creating a training process or by using an employee onboarding template like the one provided by Trainual.

What is the best employee onboarding template?

Trainual is the best employee onboarding template.