HR articles

Onboarding Documents (+ Free Templates)

Ready to get your onboarding process in shape? Begin by establishing a set of clear, well-organized onboarding documents to help your HR department obtain the info and contracts it needs and help your recruits confidently navigate their new role.

What are onboarding documents?

Onboarding documents are an essential part of the onboarding process, enabling HR to gather the necessary employee data and signed contracts. They are also there to help the new hire become familiar with your company’s policies and culture, understand their key responsibilities, and gain the upfront knowledge needed to be successful in their new role.
Onboarding documents typically include legal paperwork such as your employment contract, company policies, handbooks, and code of conduct, along with role-specific details such as job descriptions, manager and team contacts, and more.
Onboarding documents for new hires

Take a moment to review this list of essential onboarding documents and cross-check whether your organization has established policies and templates in place. We have some handy templates you can use to help you fill the gaps.
Offer letter

An offer letter is a precursor to an employment contract that formalizes your company’s hiring intent and clarifies the key job details for the role. It’s more than just a notification, though. While it does not carry the legal weight of an employment contract, it does outline compensation and benefits, responsibilities, and start date to help the candidate make an informed decision whether to accept or decline your position.
Employment contract

Comprehensive employment contracts are critical for detailing the organization’s and employee expectations and responsibilities within a legal framework to protect both parties.

A well-crafted contract should address aspects like job duties and compensation, including salary, benefits, overtime, working hours and parameters, confidentiality obligations, intellectual property ownership, and termination procedures. If applicable, it should also specify at-will employment status, which is common in the US, where either party can terminate the relationship without cause.

Depending on your organization’s workplace requirements, you may need multiple types of employment contracts, including:
  • Permanent: Full-time, indefinite employment with benefits
  • Part-time: Regular, but less than full-time work, potentially including benefits
  • Fixed-term: Employment for a predetermined period, typically for specific projects
  • Temporary: Short-term employment to fill a temporary need with limited or no benefits
  • 1099: Independent contractor agreement, where the worker is responsible for their own taxes
  • Casual: Unscheduled, on-call work with no guaranteed hours or benefits
  • Internship: Educational experience with potential mentorship and limited compensation
  • Apprenticeship: Structured learning program combining classroom-type instruction with on-the-job training
  • Remote work agreement: Specified terms for working outside of a physical office.

Get your legal team to review your employment contracts to avoid ambiguities that could lead to costly disputes. Regular updates should also take place to ensure compliance with changes to labor laws and minimize legal risks.
Welcome to the team email

A well-crafted welcome to the team email sets the stage for smooth onboarding by establishing a warm tone and building excitement about the position.
To ensure a positive first impression, HR professionals should include essential information for the new employee’s first day, such as details on their role, information about their team, the start date, work hours, any necessary documents, logistics (such as parking and arrival instructions), and a first-day schedule. Some companies also include a high-level snapshot of the recruit’s overall onboarding plan. A welcome email also provides a platform to highlight important aspects of your company culture.

Additionally, your welcome email should include key contact info for HR, the new recruit’s manager, and anyone else they may need to reach.

Finally, add a personal touch by expressing your appreciation for them joining your company and highlighting how excited you are to have them on board.

Once preboarding is over, the focus shifts to collecting important employee data and familiarising your candidates with your company’s policies and culture.

👉🏻 30-60-90 day onboarding template
Tailoring your 30-60-90 day plan onboarding documents to each role will ensure new hires receive personalized and targeted guidance. For example, a marketing hire’s 30-day plan may include social media training, while a sales hire’s plan might focus on product knowledge and sales process.
👉🏻 Employee information form

An employee information form is an important document used during onboarding to collect essential employee data that streamlines record-keeping and ensures payroll accuracy.

The form typically gathers full legal name, contact details, emergency contacts, tax, and banking information. It also captures details relevant to benefits program enrollment and job-specific requirements.
👉🏻 Employee emergency contact form

As the title suggests, an employee emergency contact form gathers vital information in case of workplace accidents or emergencies. It should include names and contact information for emergency contacts (family, close friends) and any relevant medical history or allergies the employee wishes to disclose.

Importantly for HR, gathering emergency contact information is not a ‘one-and-done’ exercise. This data should be updated every six to 12 months to allow for a swift response during critical situations.
Hybrid work schedule

As employees look for greater flexibility and work-life balance, a hybrid work schedule clarifies your organization’s expectations for employees splitting their time between the office and off-site work.

The schedule outlines core work hours or days when physical presence is required at your premises while also defining flexibility for remote work on designated days. This transparency creates clear boundaries and ensures employees understand when they’re expected to be available.

An in-depth hybrid work schedule should also outline communication protocols and accountability expectations for remote work to ensure everyone feels informed and empowered.
Employee handbook and HR policies

When orienting new employees, a strong employee handbook and clear HR policies form the cornerstone of a smooth onboarding process.

An employee handbook serves as a central go-to reference point, informing new hires about company culture, benefits, and expectations. This reduces confusion and empowers recruits to assimilate into their roles.

Meanwhile, HR policies outline everything from dress code to vacation time to ensure consistency and fairness throughout the organization.

By providing access to this information from the get-go, you can help new hires feel informed and confident through their transitions.
Company mission, vision, and values

Until a new recruit understands and embodies your company’s mission, they are a product of the values and vision of their previous employers. That’s why a clearly defined company mission statement shared with new recruits during onboarding is essential for setting a new tone and standard.
Equal-opportunity employer statement

An equal opportunity employer (EEO) statement is vital for fostering an inclusive workplace and a strong employer brand. It establishes a company’s commitment to fair treatment and opportunity for all qualified candidates. This creates a welcoming environment of universal belonging for diverse talent and stimulates innovation by including many perspectives.
Paid time off (PTO) policy

A paid time off (PTO) policy benefits both employers and employees by clarifying expectations for time off, ensuring fairness and consistency across the organization, and reducing confusion and the potential for conflict.
👉🏻 Code of conduct policy

An effective code of conduct policy establishes clear expectations and boundaries for professional behavior in the workplace. It outlines acceptable and unacceptable conduct, promoting a respectful and inclusive environment.
Attendance policy

An attendance policy is essential for a well-functioning workplace. It lays out clear expectations regarding work hours, absences, tardiness, and leave requests, and when implemented effectively, it promotes fairness, minimizes disruption, and ensures adequate staffing levels.

Your attendance policy should outline acceptable reasons for absences, such as illness and emergencies, the proper procedures for reporting them, and the consequences for violating these rules. The policy should also address procedures for requesting time off, including paid time off and sick leave.
👉🏻 Bereavement policy

In providing a framework for compassion and support, a bereavement policy demonstrates that your company values its employees’ wellbeing during a time of personal loss.

Your policy should offer clear guidelines for paid or unpaid leave following the death of a close family member or loved one. This can reduce the stress on grieving employees to some degree by alleviating uncertainty about time away from work.

The policy should define covered relationships (spouse, child, parent, and extended family members, for instance) and the amount of leave allotted for each. It may also outline notification procedures and details on returning to work, such as easing back into duties or offering access to employee assistance programs if applicable.
Anti-harassment policy

A thorough anti-harassment policy will outline the complaint process, and ensure a fair investigation together with the appropriate disciplinary action. Having such a policy in place will empower your employees to report incidents and will help to discourage instances of future harassment at your company.
👉🏻 No-call no show policy

When an employee goes absent without leave (AWOL), it can be considered a serious offense. A no call no-show policy establishes clear expectations for employee communication during absences.

This policy outlines punitive steps taken when an employee fails to show up for work without notification and a valid reason. It serves to deter unscheduled absences, protect the workplace from staffing shortages, and ensure fairness by holding all employees accountable.

Your policy should define a timeframe for acceptable notification, outline progressive disciplinary actions for violations, and provide clarity on your appeal process.
Great onboarding programs aren’t static – they require continuous improvement. So, collect feedback from new hires to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. This continuous feedback loop, along with updates on evolving company policies and changes to labor laws, will ensure your onboarding stays current and effective.
Creating a well-defined onboarding process with all the necessary new hire paperwork and HR documents takes considerable time and effort. The long-term benefits, however, are undeniable as an effective onboarding program streamlines the experience for new hires, reduces confusion, and accelerates their productivity.
And if you are "FOR" a systematic induction process, but are afraid of missing something important or getting feedback on your own experience of creating an adaptation, come to the Employee onboarding course. Let us know what you'd like - leave an application form 👉🏻 at the link.