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Agency Onboarding Toolkit

The Agency Toolkit is designed to provide resources and information that help facilitate effective onboarding of new employees. Tools are conducive for use by agency human resource professionals to implement a formal onboarding process, or to evaluate an existing program. There are also tools to assist supervisors with understanding their role in the onboarding process.

Information contained on this page is based upon research of best practices related to the onboarding process. We encourage agencies to modify tools as needed.

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the strategic process of integrating employees into their new work environment; it prepares employees for success in their jobs and reinforces the values and culture of the organization to develop fully engaged, productive team members. Onboarding includes pre-hire interaction with applicants, the orientation process, and the subsequent months following a new hire’s first day.

The goals of Onboarding are to:

  • Ensure new employees feel welcome and are a part of the agency;
  • Support vision, mission and core values;
  • Show the importance of each employee’s work and how it supports the strategic goals of the agency;
  • Introduce and explain policies/procedures;
  • Provide an opportunity to complete new hire paperwork; and
  • Relieve employee anxiety while helping him/her to become productive.

Achieving these goals allows an agency to create the foundation for a long-term, positive and mutually beneficial relationship.

What is the Difference Between New Hire Orientation and Onboarding?

New employee orientation generally involves a first-day session or a first week of activities that familiarizes the employee with the agency’s mission, vision, values and policies. It typically includes completion of necessary payroll, benefits, and new hire paperwork.


Onboarding is a comprehensive approach that starts prior to the new hire’s orientation and first day of employment. It provides a more strategic plan for employee success than a one-day orientation. In fact, the onboarding process could extend up to one year.

Who is Responsible for Onboarding?

Onboarding is successful only when human resources and supervisors/managers are working collaboratively through the process. This partnership helps to establish a long-term relationship with the employee, which begins before the employee is actually hired. Human resources plays a key role in the early recruitment and orientation phase. It is essential that the manager be proactive and engaged in facilitating the employee’s successful integration into the agency over time.

What are the Benefits of Onboarding?

  • Integrates new employee into the organization;
  • Shortens the new employee’s learning curve, thereby increasing productivity;
  • Improves job satisfaction and retention; and
  • Promotes communication between managers and staff.

The supervisor ensures the new employee appropriately assimilates to the work environment by:

  • Preparing and sending welcome letters to other staff members;
  • Assigning a “Peer Partner” to the new employee for first 60 days;
  • Ensuring necessary resources and equipment are available on new employee’s start date; and
  • Completing the Supervisor New Employee Onboarding Checklist, which outlines activities/tasks performed by supervisor.

Sample Supervisor Onboarding Checklist REVISED

Sample Letter to Staff Announcing New Employee

The “Peer Partner” concept is designed to enhance the new employee’s orientation and onboarding experience by pairing the new hire with a current employee to familiarize him or her with the “norms” of the agency. A Peer Partner is not intended to serve as a replacement or substitute to the manager; however, they should be readily available to answer the new employee’s questions about the work environment and culture of the agency. The Peer Partner establishes a mentoring relationship with the new employee, and in conjunction with the supervisor, ensures the new employee.

Selection Criteria

A Peer Partner should be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Volunteers as a Peer Partner and agrees to be available to support the new employee
  • Holds a similar job to that of the new employee
  • Understands the work environment (minimum length of service of one year)
  • Maintains a good performance and attendance record
  • Possesses broad exposure and functional knowledge of the agency/office/department/unit
  • Demonstrates good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Displays patience and empathy
  • Known to be trustworthy
  • Exhibits a positive attitude
  • Possesses a strong sense of confidentiality


The Peer Partner is a person who volunteers to act as a “Peer Mentor” on the job by:

  • Greeting  the new employee on the first day of employment
  • Introducing the new employee to co-workers and other key staff members
  • Encouraging the new employee to engage with peers, joining them for lunch, etc.
  • Explaining office policies/procedures
  • Ensuring the employee knows where the cafeteria, restroom, copier, fax machine, printer, fire exits and supplies are located
  • Helping the new employee to navigate throughout the agency
  • Answering any questions the employee may have about the job
  • Identifying and referring the new employee to appropriate resources in the workplace
  • Meeting regularly with the employee at least 3-4 hours during their first week and one hour per week thereafter, for 60 days (Sample Peer Partner Discussion Form)