Your new hire onboarding checklist needs these 6 things

Learn how to reduce high accounting firm staff turnover by adding these six things to your new hire onboarding checklist.

minute read

Last Updated May 23, 2024

A woman and man sit at a table as they review her new hire onboarding checklist.


Consider this statistic for a moment: 17% of employees leave their new job between the first week and the third month after starting. 

Maybe that doesn’t sound too terrible, but if you’re a team of 10, it can greatly impact your productivity, your staff…and your bottom line. The average cost of training an employee is $1,433 for companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. And without a stellar onboarding plan, the cost to your firm will continue to rise. 

But consider this statistic (yes, there’s a bright side): Organizations with strong onboarding processes increase new hire retention by 82% and improve productivity by 70%.  

So, what does that mean for your firm? 

It means that you need to create an excellent new hire onboarding checklist. And we’re going to help you get started. Here are the six must-haves to include in your employee onboarding process. 

1. Create the pre-onboarding process 

Before you can start onboarding a new employee, you need to think about what needs to happen to have a successful employee onboarding program. And that means adding a pre-onboarding process to your new hire onboarding checklist. 

Consider the following when creating your pre-onboarding process: 

  • What equipment does the new hire need? (Note: Requirements may vary based on in-office, hybrid and remote positions.) 
  • Who orders and ensures technology is delivered before the employee’s first day? 
  • Is there firm swag or any learning materials that can be sent beforehand? If so, determine who will handle the collection and sending of materials. 
  • Who needs to meet with the new employee within the first week? Make sure they’re included in any firm-wide meetings, along with any needed individual discussions. 

Preparing for new hires before they come on board helps them feel like they’re part of a team that appreciates them. You don’t want a new employee’s first day to leave a bad taste in their mouth because you were unprepared to welcome them. (Rightworks Academy members can access a member-provided employee pre-onboarding checklist here.) 

2. Send a welcome letter 

A man and two women sit at a table.
Send your new hire a welcome letter right away so they feel like part of the team from the very beginning.

You’ve extended the job offer, and your potential new employee has accepted! Now what?  

The next thing to include on your new hire onboarding checklist is a welcome letter to your new staff member. While you can send this via snail mail, your best option—especially since you’re a modern firm—is to send a welcome email. (Academy members: Access welcome email templates here.) You want your new hire to feel appreciated…and like they’re part of the team from the start. 

The welcome letter (email) should include the following: 

  • The start date and time. 
  • The office location (for hybrid or in-office roles). 
  • Their manager’s name and contact information. 
  • Whether they need to bring documents, like social security information or banking details. 
  • When they can expect the equipment they need if their role is remote. (Hint: It’s best to make sure everything they need arrives before their first day.) 

In addition to sending a welcome letter to your new hire, also notify your team. Let them know there will be a new staff member joining the team and include information about the new hire’s background, experience and skill set. Encourage your team to spend time introducing themselves so that the new employee feels…well, welcome to your firm. 

3. Schedule an orientation 

Whether your new staff member is working in the office or remotely, it’s important that their first day leaves a great impression and makes them feel confident that they’ve made the right decision. That’s why you must include an orientation on your new hire onboarding checklist. 

Orientation will look different based on your firm’s work environment (i.e., in-office, remote or hybrid), but here are some ideas to include for all situations: 

  • Schedule meetings with managers and executives to learn about the firm’s vision, mission, company culture and values. 
  • Have new hires meet with the human resources team to fill out applicable forms, go over the employee handbook, and review firm policies and procedures. 
  • Provide any training materials needed and access to applications they’ll be using. 
  • Discuss expectations of the new hire and how you’ll measure their performance. 

If your new staff member is working in the office, plan to show them around, talk through the tools they’ll work with, meet with the coworkers they’ll share space with or offer to treat them to lunch or coffee. If they are working remotely, ensure they’re set up with email and communication tools so they can collaborate with the team on day one.  

As an extra gesture, send them a gift card to help them purchase lunch or coffee. A well-thought-out orientation on day one will ensure a fantastic employee experience right from the start. 

4. Engage the onboarding team 

An image that lists the characteristics of an onboarding team.

To ensure employee engagement—and retention—on the first day, you’ll want to make sure you have a staff onboarding team. New hires are nervous enough on their first day; you want to ensure their transition to a new job is seamless. The goal is to get them onboarded successfully, so assemble a team to help your firm accomplish this. 

Your onboarding team should possess the following characteristics and skills: 

  • Attention to detail and highly organized 
  • Easygoing and helpful 
  • Communicative and responsive 
  • Skilled at training and delivering instruction 

Your onboarding team will ensure that the new hire has everything they need to perform their job and help your firm succeed. They’ll be in charge of checking in with the new staff member, scheduling any training on processes or technologies, introducing them to other staff, and organizing activities to help them bond with the team. 

Bottom line: Make sure you’ve included an onboarding team on your new hire onboarding checklist. 

5. Define their 30-60-90-day plan 

An image that shows the five things to include in a new hire's 30-60-90 day plan.

For new hires to be successful, they need to know exactly what’s expected of them within the first 90 days. This can be accomplished by including a 30-60-90-day plan on your new hire onboarding checklist.  

Each position within your firm should have its own onboarding plan that focuses on the new team member’s success in learning, performing, and contributing to the firm’s overall work and goals. Each 30-day set should include the following: 

  • Focus 
  • Priorities 
  • Learning goals 
  • Performance goals 
  • Personal goals 

Setting clear goals and objectives every 30 days will help ensure that the new hire is on track and acclimating well to the firm. It’s important to check in with new staff members every 30 days to evaluate and adjust goals as needed. This is also an excellent time to receive feedback on their onboarding experience. (Academy members can access our 30-60-90-day templates here.) 

6. Communicate and check in often 

The last thing you want to do with a new hire is bring them on board and abandon them. It’s essential to keep the lines of communication open and check in with them every week for the first 90 days. After that, you can move to every other week or once a month. But to ensure a stellar onboarding experience, you must prioritize consistent communication. 

This helps you gauge how well your new hires are doing or where they may need help prioritizing work and goals. Be sure to offer constructive feedback and allow them to do the same. Listening to their feedback gives you the opportunity to improve your new hire onboarding checklist and make changes for your next onboarding. Consistent communication is key to keeping a pulse on how your new hires are doing. 

Implement your new hire onboarding checklist 

Your employee onboarding process sets the tone of your firm for new hires. That’s why it’s important to take the time to create a standardized onboarding for every new member that joins your team. Make sure they’re welcomed with proverbial open arms by a team who is excited to help them grow in their career and managers who are open to receiving candid feedback.  

These small things lead to great rewards—like happy and satisfied employees. You know, the ones that stick around. 

Is your firm ready to create a top-notch onboarding program? Let the Academy coaches help you by becoming a Academy member today! 

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