Tips to Improve Your Onboarding Plan for New Hires

by Mike Tannian on January 05, 2023

Your onboarding process can make or break a new employee’s experience. Learn how to create an onboarding plan for new hires at your public sector agency.

Article Highlights: 

  • Pre-boarding tasks to include in your onboarding plan 
  • Onboarding tasks for the employee’s first day and beyond 
  • Audit your current onboarding process
  • How employee onboarding software can help

A robust onboarding program integrates new hires with your organizational culture, ensures critical paperwork is completed, and provides employees with all the information and tools required to do their jobs. A great onboarding experience can even increase the length of employee tenure at your organization. 

Given these benefits, you may wonder where you can improve your onboarding process. Every employee onboarding process has room for improvement, whether you want to streamline communication and task management during the pre-boarding process or reduce time-to-productivity after an employee’s first day. 

This post will outline the key actions you should include in every onboarding plan for new hires. Then, we’ll help you analyze your current process and identify areas for growth. To cap off the conversation, we’ll discuss how onboarding software, like NEOGOV’s Onboard, provides critical tools on how to improve your onboarding process.

Onboarding Tasks to Complete Before Day 1

The onboarding process begins long before an employee’s first day. New hires, HR professionals, and employees across departments must be involved in the pre-boarding process. You will likely want to include the following tasks as part of your HR onboarding plan:  

  1. New hires must complete necessary paperwork, like the I-9 and W-4.
  2. HR professionals must meet new hire compliance requirements, like conducting employment verification. 
  3. Departments like IT must ensure new employees have all the tools they need (laptop, cell phone, uniform, etc.) 
  4. Hiring managers must prepare a new employee’s workspace. 

Because there are so many moving parts, creating a task list and timeline is fundamental to an efficient and effective onboarding plan for new hires. You should make an employee onboarding checklist and timeline for new hires, HR, and all departments involved in onboarding programs. These lists should identify who needs to complete what by when and may include items in the table below. 

New Hire Task List

HR Task List

Hiring Manager and Other Departments

  • Sign offer letter 
  • Complete background check
  • Complete any required drug screening
  • Fill out I9 and W4 forms 
  • Review employee handbook 
  • Provide new hires with information about the first day (i.e. when and where orientation is)
  • Prepare for orientation 
  • Share all relevant forms with third parties, like benefit providers and state/federal governments
  • Meet new hire compliance requirements (i.e. verifying employee eligibility)
  • Prepare new hire workspace
  • Ensure new hire has all requisite tools for the first day of the job
  • Organize all required compliance training
  • IT to provide access to needed sites, systems, etc.
  • Ship necessary equipment to remote staff (i.e. work laptop)


Aim to provide the new hire with a wealth of information before their first day on the job. New hires need to know precisely what to expect on their start date, from attending meetings to breaking for lunch. This is true whether you’re onboarding an employee remotely or in person. 

If you fail to outline this information, employees may feel unsure about expectations for the day and leave with a poor first impression about working at your agency.

Onboarding Tasks for the First Day and Beyond  

As your new hire onboarding process begins, share critical information with new hires in multiple formats (both verbally and in handbooks). This information-sharing will likely take place during a formal orientation process. Orientation plays a critical role in setting the pace for a successful onboarding process in a few key ways: 

  • Employees gain additional insights into organizational culture. 
  • Employees have the opportunity to sign up for health and retirement benefits. 
  • Employees learn about mandatory training and onboarding requirements. 
  • Human resources can set expectations around mandatory onboarding tasks, like completing training, by distributing new hire task lists. 

In addition to this formal orientation process, hiring managers are vital to a successful onboarding experience for new employees. A great hiring manager welcomes new employees to the organization on the first day. As part of this process, hiring managers can introduce the new hire to the team and inform them about the logistical norms of the workplace (for example, when people take lunch). 

Because it can take up to eight months for new hires to reach full productivity, the onboarding process doesn’t stop after the first day. Hiring managers should work with new hires to set performance objectives so new employees know exactly what’s expected from them in the first 30, 60, and 90 days (and beyond!). To accomplish this, look at job descriptions, then work backward to establish reasonable expectations around these duties. 

A robust HR onboarding plan also incorporates regular performance reviews, including a 90-day performance review. These reviews provide new employees with critical feedback about their onboarding progress. Performance reviews also enable supervisors to receive feedback from their employees about additional support they may need to do their job more effectively.

Review Your Current HR Onboarding Plan

Creating a stellar onboarding system is an iterative process that requires strategic thought and planning. To refine your new hire onboarding plan, you must identify existing onboarding gaps and create goals to address them. 

Pre-Start Date

The work you put in before an employee’s first day is fundamental to the success of new hire onboarding. Below are a few questions to help your hiring team, recent new hires, and partner departments brainstorm gaps in the pre-boarding stage of onboarding:

  • Do you regularly receive the same questions from new hires before their first day? 
  • Is all compliance paperwork being completed on time? 
  • Are all departments aware of incoming employee needs and required actions? 
  • Do new hires have the tools to succeed (laptop, ID card, phone, etc.) from day one? 

Post-Start Date

Clear, open communication is critical as employees gain familiarity with their new roles. You can survey recent new hires, hiring managers, and other departmental employees to gain insights into the onboarding process post-start date. You might ask some of the following questions: 

  • Do remote or hybrid employees feel as connected to their team as in-office employees?
  • Is each in-office, hybrid, and remote employee equally satisfied with their onboarding experience? 
  • Does your organization provide sufficient training materials for new employees?
  • Are new hires meeting supervisor expectations in performance reviews? 

Clarify Onboarding Goals Based on Your Audit

Once you’ve identified gaps in the process, you can establish goals to improve your onboarding plan for new hires. For example, if HR struggles to process all new hire paperwork before the first day, you may consider ways to reduce inefficiencies in the pre-boarding process. Or if you frequently receive the same questions from new hires, you might provide additional resources before an employee’s first day. Other goals for your HR onboarding plan may include: 

  • Improving the clarity of roles 
  • Reducing time-to-productivity of new hire 
  • Improving team cohesion and integrating employees with team culture 

As you create goals to improve your new hire onboarding plan, remember to make them SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based). Tracking these goals alongside key performance indicators makes it easy for your organization to assess progress.

How Onboarding Software Can Help 

In many cases, HR onboarding software is an excellent way to improve gaps in your onboarding process. NEOGOV’s Onboard automates and expedites slow, paper-based onboarding processes that take hours of your time. Rather than physically gathering documents for a new hire to complete at orientation or forwarding a completed W-4 to payroll, assign tasks to individuals and departments according to your customized workflow. 

You can also meet new hire compliance requirements with software designed for government HR. Instead of waiting for orientation, new hires can use self-service portals to fill out necessary documents online. This means that onboarding software supports your new hire reporting program while providing a stellar employee experience both pre- and post-start date. Because you can customize software to your unique organizational branding, new employees can connect to your mission and values before they even attend orientation.

Final Thoughts

A comprehensive employee onboarding plan for new hires prepares individuals for long careers at your organization. NEOGOV’s software is a great way to actualize your onboarding goals. If you’re ready to learn how Onboard can improve your onboarding process, don’t hesitate to schedule a no-obligation demo today.

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Director of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value to public sector HR professionals at every stage in the buying journey.

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