The Best Employee Onboarding Process for Small Businesses

It’s official–you completed the hiring process! Now that you’ve found the perfect candidate to join your team, you may wonder what’s next. 🤷‍♀️ 

How do you transform a stranger into a contributing member? Maybe you’re familiar with the famous 5 C’s:

✔ Clarity
✔ Compliance
✔ Culture
✔ Connection
✔ Check-In

But maybe you don’t know how to create an onboarding process that reflects your brand… Or you don’t have an onboarding process, period. 

If you want to develop the best employee onboarding process, stick around because we will share our new hire onboarding template in this post. 👇

🎉 Bonus: Our discussion features HR experts from our Indie Ops Network™. We ask them to pick our process apart and offer insight on how to make it even better.

You know the drill–check out the video for the full conversation, or keep scrolling for the breakdown.

📖 Part 1: New Employee Onboarding Process

Our onboarding roadmap takes new hires through their early beginnings at ProcessDriven. Many of these steps occur before Day 1 to ensure we set everything up properly. 

Let’s get started and see what our HR guests advise!

📍 Step 1: Candidate responds, “Yes!” to the email offer

Beyond sending a formal offer letter, our HR consultants recommend providing a warm welcome by asking specific questions. For instance, do you like coffee or tea? Are you a morning or evening person? Sprinkling some personality into the mix is an excellent way to showcase your work culture. 👨‍👨‍👧‍👧

Feeling stumped with questions? Consider using AI to brainstorm some ideas! You can also automate some onboarding process steps with an intake bot. 

🎬 Skip to the timestamp (04:37) to hear these recommendations in-depth. 

📍 Step 2: Compile all details and email reply for missing information

You’ll need the new hire’s full name, email, address, social security, and more. Reach out if you’re missing anything vital. 

📍 Step 3: Onboard new employee in Gusto’s wizard

Gusto (👈 affiliate link) is our one-stop shop for all things HR–like payroll, email accounts, benefits, meeting reminders, and more. After adding the information into the system, we sit back and let Gusto’s wizard work its magic. 

Our CEO, Layla, can’t recommend Gusto enough to small to mid-sized teams for HR support. Consider this her five-star review! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

💡 Pro tip: Customize your messages in Gusto with your brand voice.


📍 Step 4: Schedule a first-day call with the new hire and manager 

We like to finalize the call in our Google calendar. For a speedy employee onboarding process, add the new hire’s personal email to avoid access issues.

📍 Step 5: Create a human task in ClickUp (or your preferred PM tool)

We develop a human directory inside of our project management software (PMS). We use ClickUp (👈 affiliate link) for this step, but you can incorporate this process with any tool you choose. Alternative PMS tools include:

🛠️ SmartSuite (👈 affiliate link)
🛠️ Asana (👈 affiliate link)
🛠️ Notion (👈 affiliate link)
🛠️ Trello (👈 affiliate link)

Your human directory is another great place to gather general information about your candidate, like their personality traits, favorite people, and the best ways to work with them. 

Our HR guests chime in about utilizing automation to establish the human task and trigger the next steps in the onboarding process. Automation–don’t mind if we do! (07:18) 

📍 Step 6: Introduce the new hire in the team chat room 

Up until this point, our team doesn’t know much about the hiring process. So, we break the ice with an exciting announcement, introducing the new team member and sharing relevant information, like their start date. 👋

📍 Step 7: Create an onboarding list in ClickUp (or your tool of choice) from a template

You can use our onboarding checklist as a reference.

📍 Step 8: Manually adjust onboarding task dates

We know what you’re thinking–we should automate this task! 🤦‍♀️

Our HR experts emphasize how we can modernize our approach by incorporating more AI tools. For example, you can create new work accounts with AI. 

They also mention automating the offboarding process. Whether you let someone go or they leave by choice, it’s essential to tie up all loose ends and maintain a professional experience. 

🎬 You can listen to our discussion on automating onboarding/offboarding at timestamp (10:42).

At this point in the discussion, Layla asks about transparency and the team’s role during the onboarding process:

👉 Do you keep most conversations private with the new hire or report back to the crew?
👉 How should the rest of the team function during this period?

Their response? It’s ideal to inform your team about the onboarding process. While you don’t need to go into details, you can offer an overview of what the new hire has accomplished so far. (12:54)

📍 Step 9: Complete admin prep in the onboarding list

Your admin will be busy at work setting everything up, like adjusting permissions and personalizing the onboarding checklist. We compiled a series of admin tasks here; take a peek! 👀 

📍 Step 10: Complete Gusto’s personal onboarding information

While setting up the onboarding timeline, we have the new employee fill out the remaining details, like their direct deposit information.

📍 Step 11: Wait until the new hire’s first day

The waiting period is like a state of limbo. Because of this, Layla asks about ways to engage new hires and avoid cold feet. 🧊 

Our HR masterminds brainstorm a few ideas, such as:

✅ Inviting them to join your Slack channel
✅ Sharing tutorials on software
✅ Providing a top-level summary of what’s happening in your business
✅ Sending your company’s social calendar so they can join work events

🧠 Keep in mind: It’s up to the employee to get involved. Be careful not to ask them to engage in “work” before their first day unless you pay them for their time. 

You can also have your team take the initiative and send connections with personalized messages on LinkedIn.

At ProcessDriven, we send a swag package so new hires can rep our company in style. 👕

🎬 We talk about the waiting period at timestamp (14:49).   

📖 Part 2: New Employee Onboarding Process

Finally, Day 1 arrives, and we continue with check-ins, reviews, and much more. Keep reading for the rest of our new hire onboarding template!

📍 Step 12: Meeting “Welcome to ProcessDriven” 

We host a meeting with the manager, new hire, and CEO (optional).

📢 Community program shoutout: Every month, we review process maps and templates just like this in our Indie Ops Network™ community. Our members learn so much from each other, sharing and borrowing methods and templates that work well in their businesses. If you want to connect with a community of operators, join us and share your wisdom!   

📍 Step 13: Meeting: Manager check-in

The weekly manager sessions ensure our new team members are on the right path. 

📍 Step 14: Meeting: Meet your onboarding buddy

Along with the initial meeting and manager check-ins, newcomers meet with their onboarding buddies a few times per week.

📍 Step 15: Meeting: 1:1 check-ins with each team member

📍 Step 16: Meeting: How Cx uses ClickUp

Cx refers to customer experience. This session dives into customer-related tasks.  

📍 Step 17: Meeting: How growth uses ClickUp 

📍 Step 18: Meeting: Vision & mission review with CEO 

📍 Step 19: Peer feedback calls (Occurs within the first 30 days)

Peer feedback helps to determine if the new person is a good fit with the team and work culture. 

📝 Note to reader: We developed this onboarding process for a remote setting. If you have a hybrid or in-person business model, you can (and should!) adjust parts of this process to better align with your working style.

During this time, the new hire will continue to work through their onboarding checklist, which includes videos, employee training courses, and a library of information to get familiar with their role and the company. 

From there, we assess the employee’s progress and goals for their role every 30 days during the probationary period.

📍 Step 20: Rename the onboarding list to “[Name]’s Role Growth” list

After the new hire completes the onboarding process, we update their checklist and repurpose it as an educational area so the individual can continue evolving with the organization. 

Ready to Implement the Best Employee Onboarding Process?

And that’s a wrap on how we onboard employees at ProcessDriven! Plus, a few recommendations on making the process even more efficient. This post features the following HR guests:

👋 Peter Köhn: Integration Automation AI Expert with 40 years (!) of experience in the IT industry. 

👋 Kate Steinke: Owner of Creative Leap Solutions. Kate provides operations management for Fiber Arts businesses and associations. She helps small businesses and associations streamline their operations.

👋 Sara Skowronski: Human Resources Consultant for Eos Human Resources Consulting. With a background in HR and technology, she offers HR outsourcing and consulting to small businesses.      

Are you feeling fired up to provide the best employee onboarding process and modify some internal systems? Consider joining the Indie Ops Network™, where high-level industry pros can connect, exchange tips, and elevate each other without reinventing the wheel. See you there? 😉


Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the process!

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