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3 Simple Strategies For Employee Onboarding (Template Included!)
You finally found that amazing hire!! Yay!
Or maybe — your hiring pace is picking up.
You have several folks starting soon (on the same day, I hope??) 🙌 🙌
We’ve already discussed some of the keys to scale your hiring:
Same day start
Discuss Core Values
Training sessions with real humans**
(**although I’m very intrigued by eWebinar - has anyone tried it for employee onboarding?)
What are some specific, tactical strategies to have a great employee onboarding experience for your 1st hire or 100th hire?
Here are 3 must-have onboarding components to make life easier and ramp new team members as quickly as possible!
3 Simple Strategies For Employee Onboarding
1. Onboarding Checklist via Google Spreadsheets
Before you get super fancy with a software (although I do like Rippling when you’re ready), start with a good ole fashioned spreadsheet.
I love an onboarding spreadsheet checklist because new hires are empowered on Day 1!
Onboarding Checklist Benefits:
New team members know what to work on and who to talk to if they need help.
A central source-of-truth you can both reference to understand progress, roadblocks, and expectations.
You or the new hire can add items ad hoc, adjust, or improve for the future.
Best of all — you can start this with your VERY FIRST HIRE!
How To Build Your Onboarding Checklist:
Create a spreadsheet (or copy this one) with:
Items to complete
Who does the item (manager, employee, HR, someone else)
Who to talk to if you need help
Timeline (before they start, first day, first week, first month)
Type (general, department-specific, role-specific)
Status (complete, in progress, not started, need help)
For your next hire…copy this spreadsheet!
Tweak as needed for role or process updates.
Now, you have two templates — BEHOLD — your library of onboarding materials!!!
Examples of Items To Include - Prior To Start Date:
Acquire a computer (buy, borrow, find in a drawer and hope it works…)
Desk location (like, do you even have room in the office? If no, check out ATV. 😉)
Let HR know you hired someone (but wait until the last minute. They really love that.)
Figure out if you have any branded swag left from your last trade show to put on their desk for the first day. When you get larger, you may even have an official employee swag pack!
Typical First Day/Week Items:
Set up computer, email, calendar
HR paperwork stuff
Logins to general software tools (Slack) and role specific ones (CRM or GitHub)
Invites to team meetings, upcoming events
Read training materials, industry blogs, thought leadership
Team welcome lunch or other tradition
20,914,830 other things
2. Encourage Questions via Group Chat
Using Slack or (gasp) Microsoft Teams, direct questions into a group chat.
Whatever group makes sense depending on company size.
#department-name if you have teams/roles
#new-hire-questions if it’s still pretty flat
Group chat is ESPECIALLY valuable if you have multiple people starting in the same role, e.g. SDRs or support reps, since they’ll have a lot of the same questions.
Why Group Chat Is Great For Training:
Avoids side conversations. You want people to get consistent, high quality info (from you).
Sometimes people get embarrassed so they ask other new hires. I’ve seen bad advice inadvertently shared this way. Encourage people to ask in the group (redirect if they don’t) and answer questions kindly to reinforce that it’s a safe space.
Group chats can become a great repository! Pin a common question, train GPT on the answer, turn it into a customer-facing help article, search the history.
Group questions mean that others can jump in and answer — a great opportunity for someone who wants to grow into a manager — and it helps share the onboarding work load.
A team manager or company leader can see trends on what’s confusing, how people are progressing, and where additional training is needed.
HR, payroll, equity questions
Onboarding buddies can be a good complementary resource
3. Sessions With Each Department Head
One of my favorite onboarding things we did at Rigor was live sessions with each department head.
The leader creates a slide deck **one time** to explain:
What their department does
Department metrics and deliverables
People and roles on their team
How to engage with them
Tools they use
Current or upcoming projects
Presentations are 20-30 minutes max, then live Q&A for a total time of 45-60 minutes.
The department head will do this presentation 1-2x/mo max (assuming you’re doing same day start) even if you’re hiring like crazy!
The benefits are huge:
Understanding how the business works across all departments
Breaking down department silos
Relationship-building with company leaders
Company leaders staying connected to new hires
Too early to have departments?
Have a new hire set up 1:1 meetings with everyone in the company (as part of their Onboarding Checklist!) or small group meetings if there’s multiple hires or mini departments.
During this session, they can ask questions about the person’s role, vision, how they like to work, learnings from customers, what is success in their role, etc.
The touchpoint, business info, and relationship-building early on is key to the long term impact and success of a new hire!
No Onboarding Is Perfect
It’s not you, it’s
me…the nature of learning a new thing!
No human can never learn everything at once, no matter how amazing the training.
This is why it’s good to remind a new hire about the 4 stages to expect after joining at startup.
Plus, if you’re growing quickly, your onboarding will be out of date as soon as it’s done. 😂
The good news is — when you hire great people, they’ll have lots of ideas on how to improve the onboarding.
Let ‘em at it!
Recent hires will have the best insights and, in no time at all, they’ll be the ones leading the onboarding!
What have you seen work well for onboarding? Any other tips or tricks for onboarding new startup hires?