Welcoming new employees is an exciting time for any company. But all too often, the onboarding process is not done right. 

In fact, according to Gallop, only 12% of companies have a proper onboarding process, meaning 88% of companies are falling short.

According to a recent study, US companies spend over $100 billion each year on employee training and development. Moreover, the cost of replacing an employee can range from 50% to 200% of the employee's annual salary.

But these unnecessary costs can be eliminated with the right onboarding process. A properly-designed onboarding program can help new hires settle in quickly, reduce turnover rates, and set the tone for positive work culture, all while saving your company money.

And a crucial component of a successful onboarding process is well-crafted documentation, which can help new employees settle in quickly and set the tone for a positive work culture. 

In this post, we'll take a closer look at onboarding documents and explore some best practices for utilizing them.

What are Onboarding Documents? 

Onboarding documents are a set of documents that every new hire gets during the onboarding process. Typically, a new hire will receive contact information, NDAs, employment agreement, and training materials among other documents during onboarding. 

All these documents are a necessary part of introducing the new employee to the company.

The example below shows a welcome letter from the Forward Air CEO to a new hire.

Welcome letter from CEO as part of onboarding documentation


Purpose of Onboarding Documents

As hinted earlier, the purpose of employee onboarding documents is to ensure a smooth introduction of roles, responsibilities, and the company to a new hire. With good onboarding documents, employees can acclimate to their new environment quickly and easily. 

To be specific, onboarding documents can help a new hire understand:

  • Company policies and culture: Onboarding documents can provide new employees with information about the company's policies, culture, and values. This information helps new hires understand what is important to the organization and also helps them make more informed decisions about their work.
  • Company resources: Company resources like employee training materials, benefits information, and emergency contacts help new hires feel supported and can help them navigate their new work environment.
  • Compliance issues: This includes forms and policies that are necessary for legal and compliance requirements, such as employment agreements, tax forms, and safety protocols.
  • Company expectations: Employees settle in quickly and with confidence when the onboarding documents or onboarding software includes information about job duties, role expectations, and performance metrics.

Organizing Information in a Logical and User-friendly Way for New Hires

A results-oriented company must realize that organizing information in a logical and user-friendly way is essential to help new hires adjust quickly to their new role and become valuable members of the team. 

It can improve their confidence, efficiency, retention, and overall job satisfaction (47% of employees cite good communication as a factor), while also reflecting positively on the organization as a whole. In fact, research from Brandon Hall Group found that effective onboarding can lead to over 70% greater new hire productivity and 82% higher retention.

To illustrate, organizing information logically and in a user-friendly way does the following:

  • Reduces overwhelm for new hires.
  • It increases efficiency and saves time.
  • Clear information leads to better information retention and improved job satisfaction.
  • It builds new hires' confidence in their abilities.
  • It demonstrates the company's commitment to professionalism and investment in the success of its employees.

New employee onboarding ensures a smooth transition into the company. One important aspect of onboarding is the documentation provided to new hires, which can come in various forms depending on the company and position.

Types of Onboarding Documentation for New Hires

From welcome material to compliance documents, there are a variety of onboarding documents that your company can use to ensure new hires are set up for success. 

Onboarding new hires can often be a challenging process for a company, but having a clear and comprehensive set of documentation can make all the difference. 

Let’s take a quick look at some of them.

Welcome Material 

Nothing inspires confidence in new hires more than a set of carefully-chosen orientation materials. Such documents typically include the following:

1. Organizational Chart: An organizational chart is a visual representation of a company's structure, showing the hierarchy of the organization, and the relationships between different positions, departments, and individuals. 

Below is a typical organizational chart for a company.

Organizational chart should be a part of your onboarding documentation for new hires


It can be helpful for new hires to understand their position and for managers to manage their teams during and after team onboarding. Organizational charts can also identify areas for improvement or reorganization within the company.

2. Company Culture: Every company has a set of shared values, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that define how people interact within an organization. 

A good company culture document includes the company's mission, vision, and goals, as well as its policies, practices, and traditions. 

Company culture documentation at Helpjuice

In addition to inspiring positivity and productivity, company culture can attract top talent and foster a sense of community and belonging among employees. 

3. Welcome Letter from CEO: A well-crafted welcome message can set the tone for a positive and productive working relationship with a new employee. It not only motivates the new hire but also inspires a positive employee experience.

And while welcome messages are typically in the form of a physical document, they can also come in the form of emails or social media posts. At the end of the day, what matters most is the message conveyed.

Check out this example from CloseSimple, which welcomes several employees with a personalized social media post on LinkedIn. Tagging each new hire shows that the company is excited about their arrival and makes them feel valued from the start.


4. Contact information for key employees or departments: To enhance a smooth onboarding process, providing contact information to a new hire makes it easy for communication to flow.

Including the contact details of HR representatives, managers, IT support, or other important contacts within the organization can help new employees quickly and easily connect with the people and resources they need to perform tasks well.

5. Employee handbook: Finally, an employee handbook is a document that outlines a company's policies, procedures, and expectations for employees.

It typically covers topics such as employment status, benefits, compensation, conduct and behavior, and other relevant policies. 

An employee handbook is a key tool for communicating critical company information to new and existing employees while serving as a reference point that guides every employee during employment.

Legal material is an essential part of the onboarding process for new employees, as it lays out the terms and conditions of employment and ensures that both the employer and employee are aware of their rights and responsibilities. 

Part of onboarding employees is to include their employee contract with pay and compensation


Below are the different types of legal documentation that are typically included in an onboarding repository:

1. Employment Contract: The employment contract is a legal document that outlines the terms of the employment relationship between the employer and employee. 

It includes details such as job title, salary, work hours, benefits, vacation time, sick leave, and termination policies. 

The employment contract also establishes the start date of employment and the duration of the employment agreement, which may be permanent or for a fixed term.

2. Tax Forms (W4, I9, 1040, and other documents.): As part of the onboarding process, new employees are required to complete a variety of tax forms. 

The W4 form is used to determine the amount of federal income tax to withhold from an employee's paycheck, while the I9 form verifies the employee's eligibility to work in the United States. 

Other tax forms may also be required, depending on the state and local tax laws.

3. Benefits Enrollment Form: Many employers offer employee benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and other forms of compensation. 

During the onboarding process, employees are given the opportunity to enroll in these benefits and choose the coverage options that best fit their needs. 

The benefits enrollment form provides detailed information about the available benefits and the costs associated with each option.

4. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). NDAs are legal contracts that prohibit employees from disclosing confidential information about the employer or its clients. 

NDAs are often used in industries where the protection of trade secrets and proprietary information is critical, such as technology, finance, and healthcare. 

New employees may be required to sign an NDA during the onboarding process to protect the employer's intellectual property and maintain confidentiality.

Compliance Documentation 

Compliance documentation is a crucial part of the onboarding process for new employees, as it ensures that employees understand the organization's policies, procedures, and ethical standards. 


Compliance documentation typically covers a range of topics, including safety guidelines and procedures, anti-discrimination policies, sexual harassment policies, and ethical guidelines or codes of conduct. 

Below are some key points to consider for each type of compliance documentation:

1. Safety Guidelines and Procedures: Safety guidelines and procedures provide information on how to maintain a safe work environment and prevent accidents and injuries. 

This may include guidelines on the proper use of equipment, handling hazardous materials, and responding to emergencies. 

Safety training may also be required as part of the onboarding process, to ensure that employees understand the risks and how to avoid them.

2. Anti-Discrimination Policies: Anti-discrimination policies are designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace based on factors such as race, gender, religion, age, or sexual orientation. 

These policies may outline the organization's commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as procedures for reporting and addressing discrimination or harassment.

3. Sexual Harassment Policies: Sexual harassment policies provide guidance on what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace and outline procedures for reporting and addressing incidents of harassment. 

These policies may include guidelines for employees and managers on appropriate behavior and may also require training on recognizing and preventing sexual harassment.

4. Ethical Guidelines or Codes of Conduct: Ethical guidelines or codes of conduct provide a framework for ethical behavior and decision-making in the workplace. 

These guidelines may cover topics such as conflicts of interest, bribery, fraud, and other types of unethical behavior. They may also include policies related to gifts and gratuities, the use of company resources, and reporting suspected violations.

Job-Specific Documentation 

Job-specific documentation helps employees understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as the expectations for their job performance. Below are some key points to consider for each type of job-specific documentation:


1. Job Description: A job description provides an overview of the role and responsibilities of the new employee. It may include details such as job title, job duties, qualifications, required skills, and experience. 

The job description may also outline the expected level of responsibility and the reporting structure of the position.

2. Process Documents or Standard Operating Procedures: Process documents or standard operating procedures provide detailed instructions on how to perform specific job tasks. 

These documents may include step-by-step instructions, flowcharts, or other visual aids to help new employees understand how to complete their work effectively and efficiently.

3. Performance Expectations and Goals: Performance expectations and goals help new employees to understand the specific goals and objectives that they will be working towards. 

This may include key performance indicators, such as sales targets, productivity metrics, or customer satisfaction scores. 

By setting clear expectations for performance, new employees can focus on achieving specific outcomes that contribute to the success of the organization.

4. Training Materials or Resources: Training materials or resources may include online courses, videos, manuals, or other materials that provide additional information and guidance on how to perform specific job tasks or work more effectively within the organization.

By providing a variety of materials as part of a training program, new employees can learn at their own pace and in the format that works best for them.

5. Performance Review Process and Timeline: The performance review process and timeline outlines how and when employee performance will be evaluated, and the expected frequency of performance feedback. 

By providing a clear timeline for an employee evaluation review, employees can better understand how they are progressing in their roles and what areas they need to focus on to improve.

Best Practices Support Onboarding Documentation 

As you can imagine by now, onboarding documentation is a critical component of any successful onboarding program. When done right, it can help new employees understand the expectations, policies, and procedures of their new workplace. 

So here are some best practices for creating effective employee onboarding documentation:

1. Be Comprehensive

New hires need to have a complete understanding of your company's culture, policies, and procedures to succeed. That's why it's essential to create comprehensive onboarding documentation that covers all the necessary information.

2. Be Organized

Organizing the documentation in a logical and easy-to-follow manner will help ensure new employees can find the information they need quickly and efficiently. Consider using headings, subheadings, and bullet points to make it easier for new employees to navigate the information.

3. Get Input from Subject Matter Experts

To ensure that your onboarding documentation is accurate and relevant, involve subject matter experts in the creation process. This can include HR professionals, managers, and other employees with specialized knowledge.

4. Solicit Feedback from New Employees

It's also important to ask new employees for feedback on the onboarding document in question. New hire feedback can help identify areas where the documentation could be improved, and also helps to engage new employees in the process. 

By seeking employee feedback and making changes accordingly, organizations can continually improve the effectiveness of their onboarding program.

5. Leverage technology

Finally, technology can be a powerful tool for streamlining the onboarding process and making it more engaging for new employees. Here are some of the critical tools and resources to include in your tech package:

  • Central Onboarding Platform: A central onboarding platform can streamline the onboarding process by providing a one-stop-shop for new employees. This can include everything from paperwork and forms to training materials and other resources.
  • E-Learning and Interactive Tools: Leverage e-learning and other interactive tools to engage new employees and make the onboarding process more fun and memorable. This can include videos, interactive quizzes, and other multimedia content.
  • Self-Service Tools: Provide access to self-service tools like knowledge base software, employee portals, and chatbots to help new employees find the information they need quickly and easily, without having to rely on human resources or other team members.

One final statistic to remember: the cost of a bad hire can be as much as 30% of the employee's first-year earnings. With effective onboarding documentation and processes in place, you can avoid costly mistakes and set your new employees up for long-term success.

How a Knowledge Base Can Help Streamline Onboarding Documentation 

We cannot end a conversation about onboarding paperwork without mentioning how useful a knowledge base tool is for the whole onboarding process.

Onboarding new employees is a complex and time-consuming process. It involves a range of tasks, including filling out onboarding forms, learning company policies, and getting up to speed on the job. One way to streamline this process is by using a knowledge base.

A knowledge base provides a single source of truth for all the information related to onboarding. 

A knowledge base makes it easier for new employees to find what they need and reduces the burden on HR and other team members.

Three key statistics illustrate the importance of a knowledge base in a company:

  1. This report by McKinsey shows that a good knowledge base could reduce information search time within a company by up to 35%.
  2. Another study by McKinsey found that companies can increase productivity by up to 25% through better knowledge management practices.
  3. A good onboarding process can result in up to 82% employee retention according to research by Brandon Hall Group.

A knowledge base can help streamline onboarding documentation by availing the following features:

  • Centralized Repository: The knowledge base serves as a centralized repository for all onboarding information, such as company policies, job descriptions, and training materials. A good repository streamlines the process for new employees, who can quickly access the information they need without having to search through multiple documents or seek assistance from other team members.
  • Easy Access: New hires can access a knowledge base from any device with an internet connection, allowing them to complete onboarding tasks independently. This eliminates the need to rely on other team members and enables new employees to work at their own pace.
  • Customizability: A knowledge base can be tailored to suit the unique requirements of an organization, allowing HR to create a customized onboarding experience for new hires. Customizability enables new employees to receive relevant information and support specific to their job role, department, or location.
  • Consistency: A knowledge base helps ensure that all new employees receive the same information during onboarding. This is important because it helps ensure that everyone is on the same page, and that there are no misunderstandings or discrepancies. It also helps ensure that all employees receive the same level of training and are held to the same standards.
  • Reduced Workload: A knowledge base can help reduce the workload for HR and other team members by offering a self-service option for new employees. By reducing the pile of HR documents and general workload, HR and team members can focus on other tasks and provide more personalized support as needed.
  • Up-to-Date Information: A knowledge base can be easily updated to ensure that the information is always current and accurate. This is important because company policies and procedures can change over time, and it's essential that new employees have access to the most up-to-date information.
  • Tracking and Reporting: A knowledge base is a useful tool for tracking and improving the onboarding process. It allows employers to identify areas for improvement, such as bottlenecks in completing tasks and documents, and make necessary adjustments.

Wrapping Up

Onboarding documents play a critical role in the successful integration of new hires into a company. By organizing information in a comprehensive, organized, and logical way, employers can create a welcoming and effective onboarding experience. 

Undoubtedly, implementing various best practices and using the right tools is the best way for companies to welcome new employees with confidence and set the stage for a positive and productive working relationship.

A knowledge base can be particularly helpful as it provides a centralized repository for all onboarding information and enables new hires to find what they need quickly and easily. In this regard, there is no better tool in the market today to help you onboard better than Helpjuice. 

Give it a try by exploring the full features with this free 14-day trial!