Employee Onboarding: The Checklist of Champions

Welcome to the other side: now it’s time to hire some employees and get down to business! Before the interview process, be sure to check out our article on interviewing (legally), found here.  Our seven-step article on how to hire an employee may also be helpful. But for this installment, we focus on the first of three steps in the employment lifecycle, which is employee onboarding.    

Employee Onboarding

“Onboarding” is a term used to describe the process of integrating the employee onto the team.  A strong onboarding process brings the employer’s company culture to life, and if handled properly, employee onboarding can help lead to a happy, healthy business!

The Offer Letter & Job Description

The creation of a job description is integral to finding the right employee for the job. Job descriptions operate as a snapshot of what the employer expects a candidate to do; because of this, they should include the essential functions of the job, core competencies, and minimum requirements. There are a number of nuances that go into formulating an effective job description, which can be found here.

The offer letter serves a number of functions. Most obviously, the offer letter serves as a way to extend an offer of employment to a candidate; however, offer letters can serve as a replacement for employment contracts.  In this way, an offer letter is a means of offering at-will employment.  At-will employment means that the employer and the employee can both terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason, with or without notice.  

Please note: Although we recommend using offer letters and job descriptions, there are certain instances in which an employment contract may be more appropriate, so consult with your lawyer to decide which is best for you!  Also, if you intend to hire an Independent Contractor, you must use a different process for hiring and firing, which can be found here.

The Employee(er) Handbook

The employee handbook is the employer’s most precious tool for creating an effective and unique company culture that mirrors the company’s mission.  In addition, employee handbooks lay out the fundamental procedures, rules, and guidelines that employees will consistently turn to and rely on over the course of the employment lifecycle.  Employee handbooks must also contain policies in line with federal, state, and local laws governing the treatment of employees.  For this reason, it is usually a good idea to co-create your employee handbook with your lawyer.

A good handbook will cover all the basics, including paid sick leave, parental leave, holidays, as well as policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, and equal employment to help keep your business compliant. Perhaps more importantly, an employee handbook is an invaluable source of information to help you (the employer) navigate and bridge any unknowing gaps.

The Employee Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

In this interconnected age, be vigilant to protect any unique product, service, or technology from ending up in the wrong hands.  Consider using:

  • An NDA that specifies what is confidential and how information can be used;
  • An intellectual property (IP) and inventions assignment agreement, which defines and assigns all relevant IP; and
  • A (reasonable) non-solicitation provision for new hires who may eventually leave your business.

These tools serve as deterrents and help build an expectation with new employees that your business takes its IP seriously.

*Pro tip: Payroll*

When it comes to paying employees, an awesome payroll provider makes all the difference.  Not only will a good payroll provider help you pay your employees and withhold the appropriate tax withholdings, they will also help you manage other important hiring steps, including required government filings and obtaining workers’ compensation insurance.  Feel free to reach out for recommendations!


We hope that this has been an insightful look into the road ahead.  A robust employee onboarding process is vital to the success of any business.  The next step?  Making sure your employees stay happy!  Check out how to nourish that employment relationship here.  

By:  Zachary Avina  –  08/17/17

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