Employee onboarding


5 min read

Before your employee starts First day of employment Week one Week two Monthly catch-ups Additional resources

Employee onboarding is the process of helping new employees settle into their roles to ensure a positive start to their employment. Successful onboarding starts with pre-arrival preparation including legal documentation and introductions. This extends to activities during the initial days, weeks, and months, setting clear expectations, providing essential resources, encouraging teamwork, identifying training needs, and regularly checking in with your new employee.

A good employee onboarding will improve outcomes for your business as it sets a great tone for your employment relationship, helps clarify expectations and contributes to greater job satisfaction.

Here are some tips for a great onboarding:

  • Get existing team members involved. This helps create a sense of pride within the team and helps builds relationships between team members early and takes pressure off you. Ideas include:
    • Getting their ideas on what to include in the onboarding. They may suggest something you hadn’t thought of.
    • Have them explain their role or demonstrate a task.
    • Being a buddy – a trusted source that can check in with the new employee and answer any questions.
    • Making a ‘this is how we do it’ list – the things that may not be written down formally but are important to the smooth running of the team and farm.
  • Consider what training your new team member may require. These skill gaps can then be incorporated into their training and development plan.
  • Have frequent team meetings in the first couple of weeks/months. This helps the new employee get to know the team better, pick up on what is happening on the farm, and ask questions.
  • Look at the communication methods you are using around the farm and office. Having visuals such as whiteboards, checklists, pictures, and calendars helps new employees be more independent and find answers to some questions themselves.

Before your employee starts

  • Ensure you have completed Step 9 in the hiring process to allow for a smooth start.
  • Prepare accommodation, PPE, tools, and vehicles.
  • Gather appropriate documentation for completion on day one of employment and check the rest of the steps on this page to see if any other forms need to be printed.
  • Ensure you keep all documents like CV, training information and reference check notes, relating to your new employee together, it helps if there are any questions or problems that arise.

First day of employment

  • Fill in the following forms: 
  • Complete a health and safety onboarding - this should include:
    • Tour of the farm identifying hazards.
    • Introduction to health and safety culture and expectations (vehicles, use of protective equipment, children on farm, what to do if feel unsafe, reporting procedures, etc.)
    • Accident reporting procedure.
    • Emergency procedures.
    • Location of first aid kits, fire safety equipment.
    • Farm rules to help keep people safe.
    • How to find relevant policies.
    • How to find relevant standard operating procedures.
    • Complete the health and safety acknowledgement on page 5 of the Before your employee starts guide.
  • Accommodation: complete a property inspection with the employee, ensure that all areas of concerns are communicated. A tenancy agreement and a property inspection form can now be signed.
  • Introduction to the farm business - this can include a farm tour, an overview to what your goals are for the farm and other farm specific information.
  • Introduction to the team.
  • Introduction to the community - list down some attractions and introduce the employee to the area, and community (doctors, banks, schools, sports and community groups such as young farmers) including contact names and numbers if possible. Offering to take your new employee to a social gathering to meet and greet can be a great way to introduce them to groups/community.
  • Plan week 1 with your employee. It is important they have a mixture of learning about the job (i.e. discussions, reading policies or procedures, time to look around the shed and farm) as well as doing some work they are familiar with (e.g. milking). This boosts satisfaction and the feeling they are contributing whilst also learning and having the time to settle in. Ensure they;
    • have a copy of the roster,
    • know what time they should turn up to work (and where),
    • know what they will be doing each day, e.g. shadowing another employee, working on assigned tasks independently.

Week one

Over the first week you should cover off the following important areas:

  • How your farm is organised and key roles and responsibilities of people.
  • Important policies, procedures, and rules. This part of the onboarding process is not usually the most fun but it is essential your new team member knows how to access them and has time to understand them. Focus on the most important ones first.
  • Clarification of what is in your new team members' job description and what that means. Also what the priorities of the job are.
  • Where the important things are on the farm, in buildings, other accommodation on farm etc.


Good communication is important to help your new team member settle in, so check-in regularly over the week to see how everything is going and to better understand one another’s expectations and preferences at work.

Week two

Is about continuing to introduce the employee to the farm so there must be a combination of training and doing happening during each of their workdays. The most important thing is the employee is building relationships with the team, an understanding of how the farm operates, and your expectations.

At the end of week two

  • Catch up and complete the relevant templates in the First 90 Days Kit.
  • Now your employee has a small amount of experience about how your farm operates, talk through the signed job description together and discuss the responsibility areas and skills beside each. Ask them to identify skills or strengths they feel they have, and skills they feel they need to grow.
  • Map out a training plan using the relevant templates in the First 90 Days Kit to help identify skills they need to improve on, as well as learn any processes specific to your farm (e.g. policies and how you like to manage calf rearing).
  • Training staff can feel time-consuming. However, once people are trained properly, they will free up your time and you will reap the rewards of your training efforts. Employees who participate in regular training are generally more motivated, more efficient and less likely to leave.
  • To get buy-in, work together with your employees to develop and review their training plan.
  • Formal training is not always the best solution. Sometimes buddying up staff, or coaching, will work better. These options can be added to the training plan.
  • When demonstrating a task or skill to a new employee make sure to explain the ‘why, when and how’. This builds confidence and encourages them to take ownership of the task and how it affects other areas of the farm.

Monthly catch-ups

  • For the remainder of the 90 days, schedule monthly catch-ups and complete the relevant templates in the First 90 Days Kit.
  • Each catch-up is an opportunity to ask open questions to get a good understanding for how your new employee is feeling in the job, and really listen to any feedback they give you.
  • It’s important throughout the whole onboarding process that you give honest feedback to your employee on their performance while being mindful that starting a new job can be exhausting, and mistakes can happen. You must also act in good faith and try to work through any disciplinary or performance concerns. Likewise, if things are going well, you should communicate this so that your employee feels valued.
  • At the end of the 90 days, review how your training plan has gone and work together to build a new training plan to meet the employee and farm needs in the months to come.
Last updated: Feb 2024
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