Onboarding Dictionary

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Schedule your new hire's first day

The first day is a pivotal point when your new hire either feels welcome at your company and  excited to start, or wishes they could head for the door as soon as they get there. How do you make sure it becomes a positive experience? Make it clear you’ve been expecting them.

There’s nothing worse than showing up for your first day and feeling like no one remembered, or even sadder, no one cares. Sure, you’ve sent out a congratulations email - but it can’t stop there. 

Plan your new hire’s first day in advance with a schedule you feel confident sending to them before they start (see: “before your first day” email).

Check out our schedule for the ideal first day for your new hires, below. By the hour, we lay out which types of events to plan and who’s responsible for executing them.

Welcome breakfast: 9-10 AM

Responsible party: hiring manager

To help your new hire feel right at home, host a welcome chat or breakfast first thing in the morning. It’s a fun, light way to begin their day, and it’ll ease those first-day jitters. 

If they’ll be working remotely, set up a virtual welcome chat. You can make this a casual get-to-know-you with some time carved out to run through their schedule. 

If they’ll be coming into the office, meet your new hire at the door. Then, round up your team and spend the first hour of the day eating breakfast together, so they can get to know who they’ll be working with. 

Tool and technology overview: 10-11 AM

Responsible party: hiring manager


We recommend sending a survey to your new hires before their first day to get their technology preferences (i.e. desktop or laptop, what type of keyboard they prefer, if they use a mouse, etc.), so you get what they need (and want) before the first day.

If they’ll be working remotely, send documentation or a pre-recorded Loom video that shows them how to set everything up, which is more scalable (and realistic) than hosting an in-person meeting on every new hire’s first day. 

If they’ll be coming into the office, set up the laptop, monitor, keyboard, and mouse ahead of their arrival. To warm up their new space, you could also have some company swag and their favorite snack or candy waiting for them. After they’ve settled in, have someone show them the basics of their equipment, especially if they’re used to different operating systems or hardware. 

Next, do a runthrough of the tools your team uses to communicate, schedule meetings, store knowledge, and manage projects. You don’t want to get too into the weeds yet. But you do want to provide a baseline understanding of how your team uses these tools so your new hire can start getting comfortable.

After this, either have your new hire create accounts for each tool or give them a list of the tools you reviewed, so they can create accounts later in the day. 

Team structure and strategy: 11-11:45AM

Responsible party: hiring manager

Now that they’ve settled in a bit, you can start walking your new hire through how your team works together, what their day-to-day will look like, and who you recommend for them to have a coffee chat with. Start with an overview of: 

After going over team structure, make sure to give an overview of your team’s goals, strategy, and guiding principles. This will inspire them to start thinking about ways they can contribute, which is probably a big reason why they accepted the role in the first place.

Morning break: 11:45 AM-12 PM

Responsible party: hiring manager

After back-to-back meetings, give your new hire a breather. Let them absorb everything they’ve experienced and learned so far, before getting back into it.

During this time, put a break block on their calendar so it’s clear to everyone at the company that this is a period of down time for them, not a blank space to book another meeting. Let your new hire know they can relax and grab coffee or a snack, go for a walk, or do some stretching - whatever relaxing means to them. 

If they have any lingering questions about the topics you just covered or want to dive deeper into them, send some company intranet pages to check out or a list of Slack channels to poke around in. 

Welcome lunch: 12-1 PM

Responsible party: hiring manager

When you’re new to a company, it can be awkward to ask people what they’re doing for lunch (if you ever went to a new school growing up, you understand). Instead of putting the burden on your new hire, handle it for them. 

If they’re remote, schedule a welcome lunch where you give everyone on the team a digital DoorDash gift card beforehand or just allow them to expense a meal. We know sometimes virtual lunches can feel like an awkward, forced conversation. So consider kicking it off by using these 30 prompts to get the conversation flowing, elevate the mood, and make your welcome lunches the best part of everyone’s day.

If they’re in the office, order food and grab a table in the cafeteria or book a meeting room for your team. Or you could take everyone to a local restaurant nearby to spend some time away from the office. 

Company culture overview: 1-2 PM

Responsible party: people team

Your culture is your company’s operating system. And if you can show your new hires how committed you are to operating in an empathetic, employee-centric way, they’ll definitely feel like they made the right decision joining your company.

During this time, give your new hire a rundown of your company’s: 

“Covering inclusion and belonging on day one is a must,” says Katie Burke, Chief People Officer at HubSpot. “Not just at a high level but specifically how the organization is committed to this work, where employees can get additional support and information, and how to learn more and get involved."

Naturally, your new hire will be bombarded with a bunch of information on their first day and likely won’t remember all of it. So it’s good to have the important stuff documented in your internal wiki for them to review whenever they need to.

Benefits/I-9 overview: 2-2:30 PM 

Responsible party: people team

Your company’s mission, culture, and open roles are probably why your new hire joined, professionally. But your benefits package may be the biggest personal reason.

Now that they’re officially in, make sure to give them a detailed rundown of their benefits. Cover things like their deadline to enroll, the exact date their benefits will activate, and the differentiators among each plan you offer. 

Also, show them where they can access documentation. When employees can go back and reference material to understand what options they have available to them - when they’re relevant to them - they’re able to plan accordingly (and not stress about a cost they know will be covered).  

Additionally, all of your new hires based in the United States need to fill out form I-9 to be eligible to work for your company. During this meeting, you can walk them through filling that out (because we all know how complicated these forms can be to understand) and collect copies of their employment eligibility and identity documents. 

When you send the schedule to your new hire, list the documents they’ll need on-hand in order to complete their I-9, so they’re prepared. 

Mid-afternoon break: 2:30-3 PM

Responsible party: hiring manager

After all of the overviews, your new hire might have some lingering questions. Give them some downtime to explore your internal wiki, email, and Slack to find the answers they’re looking for. Or, they might just need a break to unwind for a few minutes. 

Either way, make sure they get a much-needed afternoon break.

High-level product/industry overview: 3-4 PM

Responsible party: hiring manager

Your product and industry are two things your new hires need to learn about. Giving a thorough overview of the product they’re supporting within the industry will get them ready to take steps toward contributing and raise their excitement about what your company offers. They’ll be chomping at the bit to hit the ground running!

During your product overview, you should cover: 

For an added boost of product knowledge, you can have someone from your product or sales team step in to highlight value and functionality. Remember, though, this is just an overview so they don’t need to go too in depth. Your new hire will have a product training session later.

During your industry overview, you should cover: 

Late-afternoon break: 4-4:30 PM

Responsible party: hiring manager

Once four o’clock hits, it’s best to give your new hires another breather. They just plowed through seven hours of events, where they had to meet a ton of new people and absorb a bunch of new information. They’re mentally, emotionally, and probably even physically spent. 

During this time, let them know they can do whatever they need to do to recharge and get ready to wrap up their day.

End-of-day check-in: 4:30-5 PM 

Responsible party: hiring manager

At the end of the day, wrap things up with a chat about how their day went.

Get their feedback on how they felt throughout the day and give them an idea of what to expect for the rest of the week. And, finally, tell them how excited you are for them to be joining the company, that today was probably draining but they did a great job, and that you’re pumped to see them tomorrow. 

You’ve got one shot to nail your new hire’s first day. But armed with this schedule, you’ll be able to accomplish all of the above – and then some.

“It's a big deal to switch jobs, and new hires are looking for reassurance that they made the right decision to join your company. On day one, help them feel confident they will be supported and will make great impact, and that this is the best place for them during the next phase of their career.”

- Jess Yuen, Former Chief People Officer at Couchbase and Former Head of People at Gusto

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