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Five essential onboarding documents every new hire needs
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5 onboarding documents essential for every new hire

A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
7th November, 2023
Two document folders underneath an employee name badge
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
7th November, 2023

Made a new hire? You'll need these essential onboarding documents to make a great impression and ensure they start work happy and productive.

For most of us, the rise of hybrid work and the changes from 2020 meant onboarding dramatically changed, but not every business is making the most of the opportunities that lie in new hire paperwork to engage new team members. One way for companies to simplify the process is to build an online checklist in Forms for Confluence or to copy our Confluence onboarding page template.

Meanwhile, if you're using the same printed materials, leaving onboarding to the last minute, or simply not giving enough company information, it reduces your chances of making onboarding a positive, engaging experience. Plus, if your onboarding checklist has stayed the same for some time, there's every chance your new employee onboarding documents could be non-compliant, and we can't have that!

Form for new employees: What onboarding documents do you need to provide?

Every country has its own rules, but in the UK, legally, you need to provide an employee with the following:
  • A 'written statement of employment particulars' - e.g. a Contract or Agreement. This must be provided within two months of the start date (under the Employment Rights Act 1996), even for 'casual' employees. Include the employer's name, address, job description, start date, benefits and hours, and employment conditions.
  • Wider written statements and particulars, such as details on sick pay and procedures, paid leave (for example, maternity and paternity leave), notice periods, pension schemes, non-compulsory training provided by the employer, and disciplinary and grievance procedures.

1. Offer Letter and Employment Agreement

Let's start with the essential, an employee agreement (sometimes known as a 'written statement', a 'contract of employment', or a 'contract of service').
As well as details on hours, benefits, salary, and other clauses, it needs guidance on other company information with legal implications, such as keeping information confidential, your code of conduct, and policies around social media.
While it sounds heavy, a thorough agreement with an offer letter irons out any confusion and allows employees to delve into their terms and conditions of employment and bring up any issues before they start. It is an absolute must for your onboarding document stack!

2. Company Handbook and Policies

You might have looked at the 'wider written statement' and thought, "That sounds like an employee handbook". You'd be right. A written statement can be served to employees up to two months after starting, but the sooner, the better! (After all, as soon as your new hire accepts the job, they'll want to learn everything about the business.)
As well as being a vital tool for communicating rules, policies, and guidelines specific to your business, it should be a personally relevant introduction to your company, where your mission statement, aims, and culture statements mingle with guidelines.
Employees reading it should feel knowledgeable about the type of workplace they're heading to and have some knowledge on everything from dress code and operation hours to planned seasonal closures. The org chart should metaphorically show where they sit and who's around them.

Onboarding checklist: what to include in your company handbook

  • A welcome letter from your CEO
  • A sample of their working schedule for their duties and week one plans
  • An overview of the working culture
  • Descriptions of the systems you use
  • Descriptions of how the company operates practically
  • Your org chart
  • Your policies – e.g. conduct and ethics, tech and data
  • Safety and health information procedures
  • Training material or access details
  • Info on your performance review process, including appraisal forms and timelines.

3. Training and Development Plan

When your onboarding documents detail the opportunities for growth and development that are on offer, employees feel cared for, which enhances motivation and productivity.
A training and development plan unique to them is essential!
Offering a structured approach to moving up is an overlooked part of onboarding. Training plans also help new hires acquire the necessary skills they may lack in certain areas.

What to include in your employee training and development plan:

  • A written plan for their role and level/grade
  • General advice
  • Case studies from others in their current role who've been promoted
  • Courses and learning opportunities (workshops, online resources)
  • Soft skill support (books, guides, websites)
  • Mentorship availability and application
  • Self-assessment matrixes

4. Benefit Information

In a 2022 GRID study, 42% of employees said they didn't know about or understand all their employee benefits. While you legally need to detail their pension, sick pay, holiday pay, and maternity/paternity leave and pay, other benefits will also need explanation.
A key part of your new hire paperwork should be conveying your whole benefit suite, with a fact list of what's on offer, the basic allowances, and the numbers to call.

Benefits facts to convey in your onboarding documents:

  • What's included in your range of benefits?
  • How can employees become part of a scheme or opt-in?
  • Enrollment forms – how to find them, what they need
  • Details on restrictions or requirements, such as coverage details, premiums, and any limitations

5. Emergency and Contact Information

Do you include an onboarding document with Emergency and Contact Information for your new hire? It might be tucked away somewhere, but making this a critical onboarding document is important. Did you know that in 2022, according to RIDDOR, 68 members of the public were killed in work-related accidents? Having a way to collect emergency contact information for each employee is information you'll be grateful you've got to hand in crises.

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Written by
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
Content Writer
Elaine has established herself as a respected authority in the HR industry and uses her experience gained as the head of marketing in the employee rewards and recognition software sector to inform her reporting.
Human Resources
People Management