So, you’ve chosen a new hire for a vacant position, and they’re due to join the company in a few weeks. The hard work of advertising and interviewing is over—but a lot more admin comes with welcoming a new employee.

Onboarding involves much more than orientation, although it’s important to welcome the new hire and show them the ropes. Onboarding documents are equally crucial to the process. So, you can’t afford to be sloppy with the paperwork.

Keep reading to learn the importance of onboarding documents. And also find out how the right documents make for a smooth onboarding process.

Why proper new hire onboarding documentation is important

What are onboarding documents? They’re any documents relating to a new hire joining your business, from legal forms to orientation information. They’re one of the most critical parts of successful onboarding. Hires with a positive onboarding experience are 3 times more likely to feel a strong commitment to their employer.

From the company’s point of view, onboarding documents will ensure you’re covered for legal and compliance requirements. With the employee’s details on file, you can pay them on time and withhold the right taxes. And you’ll also be confident that they’re eligible to work in your country.

For new employees, well-organized onboarding documentation helps them feel less anxious about starting a new job. They’ll understand what you expect of them and what employee benefits they’ll receive in return. They can focus on settling in, knowing that all the admin is complete.

Free to use image sourced from Pixabay
Free to use image sourced from Pixabay

You demonstrate that you’ll take care of the employee by handling the paperwork. It shows you’re a professional business committed to staff welfare and a positive company culture, laying the foundations for a happy and productive workforce.

Onboarding documentation allows you to present a good first impression, which is a key factor in retaining your new hires. The cost of recruitment is high, so once you’ve done the hard work of finding someone who’s a good fit for the business, you need to hang on to them.

It’s better to make and share documents online instead of using paper, especially for remote onboarding. This allows you to use digital tools for creating documents and getting electronic signatures. Plus, you can store all the paperwork in one place for quick and easy access.

9 onboarding documents you need for each new hire

So, we know why employee onboarding documents are so crucial. But what does an onboarding package include? Here’s a look at the docs you’ll need for each new hire.

1. Job contract with roles and responsibilities for your new hire

The job contract is super important in onboarding. It’s a written agreement that explains the employee’s job, what they have to do, and also how much they’ll get paid. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be clear and specific, so there’s no confusion.

A draft contract should have been sent to the new hires before their start date, giving them the opportunity to ask questions. You can then make changes if something’s wrong or unclear. Both parties should retain a copy.

An employment contract should cover the following:

  • Description of responsibilities
  • Role expectations
  • Agreed salary and benefits
  • Location of employment
  • Duration of employment
  • Vacation/sick leave allowance
  • Non-compete or non-disclosure agreements 
  • Notice period.
Photo of Employment Contract – Free to use image sourced from Pexels

2. Official job offer with compensation and terms

Different from the actual contract, this is the formal offer of employment. The new hire will need to sign a copy of the letter to officially accept the position. The offer should contain these details:

  • Job title
  • Type of employment (full-time/part-time/flexible)
  • Brief job description
  • Start date
  • Starting salary
  • Benefits eligibility
  • Name of direct manager
  • Any conditions of employment.

You can go into more detail about aspects such as benefits and conditions in other onboarding documents, which we’ll look at shortly.

3. Payroll tax withholding for income tax declaration

In the US, the W-4 form is a tax document that tells you how much pay to withhold for federal income taxes. All new hires must complete it before receiving their first paycheck. You don’t have to submit form W-4, but you must keep it on file. Employees may also need to complete a State Withholding Certificate, depending on which state you’re in.

If you’re a global business with staff in various countries, make sure you understand the relevant tax legislation and use professional tax software to help you. For example, in the UK, you’ll need a P45 form provided by the new hire’s previous employer. This determines the amount of tax and National Insurance to withhold. You’ll need a signed Form W-4 for the same purpose in the US. 

4. Legal work eligibility and identity verification

As an employer, you need to know that new hires are eligible to work in your country. There are significant penalties if you break the law. You’ll need to collect certain employee documents to prove eligibility and verify their identity.

 For instance, you should ask for:

  • Birth certificate/naturalization certificate
  • State ID/driver’s license/passport
  • Social Security card/National Insurance number
  • Work visa or Green Card
  • Immigration documents
  • Any license required for the job.

US citizens and non-citizens must also fill out the I-9 form and return it to you within three days of their start date. You don’t have to submit it, but you’ll need to produce it on request if an immigration officer carries out a spot check.

New hire employment eligibility verification document
Employment eligibility verification – Image sourced from SHRM

5. Salary deposits and disbursement paperwork

You should have paperwork explaining how and when your new employee will get paid. If your company pays through direct deposit, you’ll need a form with the employee’s bank details. This form also lets you keep the bank information on file.

Once they’ve submitted the form to you, the HR team can add them to the payroll software. As well as handling direct deposits, your software should be able to deliver payslips online. This makes it easy for employees to see they’ve been paid on time and to keep their own records.

6. Employee handbook detailing company policies

Some papers in onboarding need to be filled and sent back, but the employee handbook is for new hires to keep. It has all the info they need about your company, so they can check it instead of asking lots of questions.

The handbook should have rules about overtime, how to dress, using company stuff, and staying safe at work. It should also state how employees should conduct themselves and what happens if they break the rules. Provide more details about the time-off policy, parental leave, and sick pay.

In the handbook, you can talk about what your company stands for and how it includes everyone. You can also show a picture of how the company is organized, so new people know where they belong and who to talk to if they have questions or problems.

7. Benefits enrollment forms and package agreements

Your new hire needs to know exactly what benefits are available to them, so start by providing a company benefits brochure for them to look through. You might offer health insurance, gym membership, stock options, pension plans or 401(k)s, or discounts with retailers.

Give as much detail as you can to help employees decide what to sign up for. Make sure you let them know how to opt in or out. Then, they can fill out the enrollment forms and agree to the terms of the benefits package.

8. Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for data protection

Depending on your business, new employees might need to sign an NDA. This keeps our business secrets safe by making sure employees don’t share private info like special knowledge or inside details about the company.

When an employee signs an NDA, they promise to keep our secrets even if they quit. Also, a non-compete agreement means they can’t work for a rival or start a similar business for a certain time after they leave.

9. Outlined training and career development plan

Show your new employees that you are here to help them grow in their jobs. Share info about the training they’ll get. Let them know about regular meetings to talk about their progress. Also, explain when they need to do training and how it will fit with their regular work.

You can also outline the benefits of volunteering for extra training, such as an increasing pay scale for more senior roles—and the company policy on tuition reimbursements. If you offer self-learning materials, include links and descriptions in the document.

Provide a smooth new hire onboarding with the right documents

The right documents are crucial for a smooth employee onboarding process, and getting the admin sorted swiftly will help to give newbies a positive impression of the business. It’s a good idea to have an onboarding checklist to make sure you don’t miss any essential documents.

As well as the basic onboarding information, such as right-to-work documents, tax forms, and direct deposit details, you must provide an employee manual outlining company culture, policies, and benefits package details. Make sure the new hire signs the relevant agreements, such as the offer letter and the NDA.

You can do plenty of other things to make new employees feel welcome, such as pairing them with an onboarding buddy or putting a welcome message on company social media. But the onboarding documents are the foundations of a happy working relationship.

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