New hire checklist: A step-by-step guide to onboarding employees in Colombia


Jul 20, 2023

Congratulations on making your first hire in Colombia! Your next step is onboarding them. Onboarding is a vital part of the hiring process that can be the difference between smooth sailing, or a rocky start to your employment relationship.

Getting the onboarding process right is one of the best ways you can set a new hire up for success. Research shows that a comprehensive, engaging, onboarding experience makes employees more likely to stay with their employer long-term. Plus, as a foreign company hiring in Colombia, onboarding mistakes could risk non-compliance with Colombian labor laws, leading to thousands of dollars in penalties and fines.

With all of this in mind, you'll want to be intentional about your onboarding process—even more so since the best onboarding programs last much longer than a new employee's first day. Our checklist covers the first 90 days so you know everything you need to handle—from paperwork and compliance to training, goal-setting, and making a 90-day plan that will set your new employee up for long-term success. 

Before their first day

  • Complete an employment background check. Background checks are legal in Colombia as long as you get explicit consent before collecting any of their personal data.
  • Send an offer letter (in Spanish). An offer letter, also known as an employment agreement or employment contract, is a legal agreement between a new hire and an employer. It needs to include the right information and comply with local laws in Colombia—you should cover things like the new employee's working days and working hours, whether they'll have a probation period, their monthly salary, and any additional payments (like integral salary). If they aren't a citizen or permanent resident of Colombia, it's also a good idea to include a clause that the offer of employment is contingent on them having a work visa.
  • Do the necessary paperwork. In addition to the employment agreement, you’ll want to include common forms like income tax documents, other legal agreements, and non-disclosure agreements. Depending on how you onboard new employees, paperwork can be a headache involving multiple email chains with stakeholders and signatories across the organization.
  • Enroll them in benefits. Mandatory benefits in Colombia include pension fund, healthcare, annual leave, parental leave (AKA maternity leave and paternity leave), sick leave, public holidays, and more—all required by law.
  • Add them to payroll. You have to pay Colombia-based employees in Colombian pesos (COP). Adding new employees to payroll also means ensuring their monthly wage complies with minimum wage laws, as well as calculating payroll deductions like social security system contributions.
  • Order and configure their devices. Whether your new employee will be working on site in a Colombian office or doing remote work, you can order and configure their devices ahead of their first day so they're ready to hit the ground running.
  • Set up their app accounts. Same thing for app accounts—your new hire will need access on day one, so make sure they have accounts set up for Slack, Zoom, Figma, and anything else they may need. 
  • Prepare any resources they'll need. These can include:
    • A copy of your onboarding checklist
    • A copy of the employee handbook along with any other company policies they need to know
    • Your company's mission statement and a document about your company culture and values
    • A team directory with contact information 
    • An overview of their first week
    • Their job description and top priorities
    • Any other role-specific resources they may need
  • Schedule their orientation (and a get-to-know-you event with the team). Schedule orientation events to take place during your new hire's first few days, like a 1:1 with their manager, meetings with their teams, or some casual, getting-to-know-you events with their peers.
  • Assign them an onboarding buddy or mentor. Your new hire will appreciate having one point person they can reach out to throughout onboarding. Assign that person now so they can prepare to welcome a new face to the team.
  • Send a welcome email. As your new employee's first day approaches, you can automatically generate a welcome email telling them everything they need to know—where to go, what time to report, who to ask for when they arrive, their first-day agenda, FAQ, and any other helpful first-day information.

On Day 1

  • Make sure their workspace is set up. If your new hire will work in-office, make sure their workspace is ready before they arrive. Check that their furniture and devices are all there—and consider adding a fun touch like some decor or a card to make them feel welcome.
  • Schedule a 1:1 with their manager. One of the first people a new hire should meet is their supervisor or manager. Try to schedule a 1:1 early on their first day so they can get acquainted and get answers to any immediate questions they have as they get settled in.
  • Schedule a 1:1 with their onboarding buddy or mentor. The next most important person to meet is their onboarding mentor. This can be a more casual meeting—a coffee chat is perfect!
  • Have a get-to-know-you event with their team or closest peers. If there's time on your new hire's first day, try to schedule an event with their team so everyone can start to get to know one another. Personal relationships are a bigger part of business in Colombia than in places like the US, so both your new hire and their colleagues will likely appreciate a chance to spend some time together.
  • Give an office tour. If your new hire is working in-office, they'll need an office tour on the first day. Have their onboarding mentor show them around the office, with an emphasis on important areas, like bathrooms and break areas.

During their first 90 days

  • Schedule organizational and role-specific training. When an employee starts a new job, their first goal should be to learn about their company, its goals, and their purpose within it. Once they have a firm grasp of the big picture, they can slowly pivot to more role-specific training to learn the skills and information they need for their position.
  • Assign work and help them set goals. Remember that a new employee can only learn and do so much in their first few months. Avoid burning them out by giving them too much to do—but make sure that they do have specific, attainable goals to work toward, even in the beginning. One great framework you can use is SMART goals—setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. This will help your new hire avoid getting stuck in a trap of not knowing exactly what to do at work.
  • Schedule regular check-ins and mentorship to help them stay on track. Regular check-ins will be key for discussing your new employee's progress and goals. Plan to check in at 30, 60, and 90 days, but be open to more frequent check-ins if they feel like they need more guidance or support.
  • Offer regular feedback as they get settled in. No new employee wants to be left in the dark, wondering if they're performing well. Make sure to offer regular feedback highlighting whether they're hitting the right marks, or they need to redirect.
  • Seek their feedback on how you can improve the onboarding experience. Finally, keep in mind that your new employee now has a wealth of information about your onboarding experience. Ask for their feedback about how you can improve the process for future new hires.

Onboarding new employees in Colombia is easy—and fast—with Rippling

If you're going to hire employees, contractors, or remote workers in Colombia, you need more than just a new hire checklist: you need Rippling. 

Rippling makes it easy to onboard and manage employees and contractors around the world—in one system that helps keep you compliant with local employment laws and regulations.

And with Rippling, onboarding new employees is a breeze. Complete and verify background checks, write and send offer letters, send, sign, and store digital documents, and localize onboarding materials to your new hire's home country—all from one centralized location.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: July 24, 2023

The Author

Christina Marfice

Christina is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Chicago. Having lived and worked in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, she’s bringing her expertise on hiring in Latin America to Rippling.