A 4-step checklist for hiring your first employee


There are many big small business “firsts.” First customer. First purchase. First loan approval. First major client. The list goes on. But one of the most significant “firsts” is a small business’s first employee. 

Hiring your first employee is a big deal. It adds more responsibilities, legal obligations, and financial requirements for the business owner. It’s a milestone worth celebrating. But it comes with its fair share of new challenges. 

With the average cost per hire for many companies sitting around $4,000, it’s important to make a good impression and onboard that first employee efficiently. “A company’s positive first impressions can cement the deal for a newly recruited employee,” says Barbara O’Toole, writing for The Balance. “Those positive strokes can also speed integration and productivity.”

Use this new-hire checklist to make that first impression count and the onboarding process a little easier.

1. Walk them through the new-hire paperwork: This can include filling out their W-4 (employee withholding allowance for taxes) and Form I-9 (employment eligibility verification). If you also offer health insurance or other fringe benefits, you can help them complete the required forms to enroll. 

2. Schedule or conduct new-employee orientation: Define the employee’s workday expectations. Show them how to track hours worked and where to find their schedule. You can also show them their work area and explain tech setup and how to get IT help for any issues.

3. Give them an employee handbook: An effective employee handbook outlines policies around the dress code, hours of operation, late or absent notices, daily breaks, PTO requests, sick days, pay periods, bonuses, and holidays. In some states, employees are required to consent to policies in writing. So don’t hesitate to go over the important points in person.

4. Set up payroll and direct deposit: Guaranteed to be top of mind, your new employee will want to know when they can expect their first paycheck. Be prepared to tell them when and where they can pick up their first check, where they can access their pay stub, and how to set up a direct deposit.

For more information on onboarding new employees and setting up your payroll system, check out this Employee Toolkit from QuickBooks Payroll. The toolkit covers essential forms that employees need to complete, steps on how to set up a direct deposit and time tracking, other payroll questions, and additional benefit options you can provide. 

Click here to get the employee toolkit

Preparing your business for your first employee may require some effort, but it’s well worth it. As Uncle Ben says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” While you get your business ready for its first employee, remember you’ve got this!