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


Jul 20, 2023

Bringing on a new team member in Hong Kong is an exciting time for both the employee and the company. However, as an employer, it's essential to remember the vital role that a well-executed onboarding process plays in employee retention and productivity. Research reveals that employees who have a positive onboarding experience are more likely to stay with the company longer and perform better. A successful onboarding process can only enhance this effect in the vibrant business environment of this city.

The onboarding experience in Hong Kong, like in any other location, is not just about paperwork and compliance, albeit these are important. It extends to providing new hires with the right devices and access to necessary apps, giving them proper training, and setting up a comprehensive 90-day plan. This all-encompassing approach helps integrate them seamlessly into the team, and it's the exact aspects our new hire checklist will cover. With that, let's dive into creating an effective new hire checklist for Hong Kong.

Before their first day

  • Background checks: In Hong Kong, it's customary and lawful to conduct pre-employment background checks as part of the hiring process. This may include verifying the potential hire's qualifications, employment history, and any criminal records. Remember that any background check should respect the new recruit's privacy and the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
  • Offer letters: After the potential employee passes the background check, the next step is to send an official offer letter. In Hong Kong, offer letters should include details such as job title, remuneration package, job description, start date, and any conditions of employment. Sending this via the candidate's work email ensures a formal record of the offer. Also, ensure that it is signed by a company representative and requires the employee's signature in return.
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs): Protecting sensitive business information is crucial. Before the employee's first day, it's wise to have them sign an NDA. This agreement is legally binding and deters employees from disclosing confidential company information.
  • Work visa application: If you are hiring a non-local, ensure that the process for obtaining a work visa is underway. Remember, under the Immigration Ordinance, it's an offense to employ someone who is not lawfully employable.
  • Contract of employment: In Hong Kong, every employee should have a written employment contract, known locally as a "continuous contract." This document outlines the terms and conditions of employment, which should align with the Employment Ordinance.
  • Registration for Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF): In Hong Kong, it's a requirement for employers to enroll employees in the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) Scheme. Make sure you're set up with an MPF service provider and ready to make contributions.
  • Preparation of workspace: Whether the new hire will work in an office or remotely, ensure their workspace is ready. If they will work in person, the workspace should be equipped with all necessary supplies. If they are remote, ensure they have the right equipment and access to relevant platforms and software.
  • Welcome email: Send a personalized welcome email to your new employee. This email should include their start date and time, dress code, and first-day agenda. It's also a good opportunity to introduce them to their team members and explain what they should expect on their first day.

All these steps help to ensure a smooth onboarding process for the new hire, making their transition into the Hong Kong workspace enjoyable from day one.

Day 1

  • Welcome to the team email: Kickstart the day with a warm "welcome to the team" email to your new hire. This email should highlight the excitement of having them on board and remind them of the day's schedule. This email should also include essential information such as the company handbook, dress code, and direct deposit details for payroll. It's also a great opportunity to make the new employee feel like part of the company culture.
  • Set up their workspace: Prepare a comfortable workspace for your new hire. Make sure your new employee's workspace is all set up. This includes not only a clean and organized desk but also an operating computer, necessary software installations, and access to important files and databases.
  • Employee orientation meeting: Schedule an orientation session to familiarize the new hire with the company policies, the onboarding process, and their new role. This could be conducted by the hiring manager or a member of the human resources team. In Hong Kong, a formal yet friendly approach is often appreciated.
  • Provide company handbook: Supply them with a detailed company handbook. This should include everything from the company's history and mission statement to detailed policies and procedures. In Hong Kong, it is customary for handbooks to be both in English and Chinese, catering to the bilingual nature of the city.
  • One-on-one meetings: Schedule one-on-one meetings with their team members. This is a good time to take your new hire for a traditional Hong Kong-style "yum cha" lunch. This local dining experience involves drinking Chinese tea and eating dim sum, providing an informal and comfortable setting to get to know colleagues.
  • IT setup: Ensure your IT team is on standby to assist with any technical setup, such as email accounts, internal systems, and software. If the employee will be working remotely, ensure they have a stable VPN connection.
  • Provide essential documents: Make sure your new employee receives all essential documents on their first day. This includes the employment contract, a copy of their job description, and details about their remuneration package.
  • Introduce them to the team: Organize a team gathering to introduce the new hire. You could opt for a casual in-office gathering, or if you're aiming for something more local, a visit to a "cha chaan teng," a type of Hong Kong-style café known for its eclectic and affordable menus. This not only serves as a friendly welcome but also as an introduction to the local culinary scene.
  • Discuss the first week's agenda: Towards the end of the day, discuss the week's agenda with the new hire. This helps them understand what to expect in their first week and aligns their efforts with the team's goals.
  • Emergency contact: Make sure to gather emergency contact details for the new hire, a step that's often overlooked in the rush of onboarding activities. This information could be crucial in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

The first day is crucial to a new hire's journey. Making it a mix of formal orientation and casual interactions with a touch of local culture can leave a lasting impression and kick-start their journey on a positive note.

During their first 90 days

  • Onboarding checklist: Create an employee onboarding checklist to guide the first 90 days. This can include tasks such as completion of employee training modules, participation in team activities, and attending check-in meetings.
  • Social media: If appropriate, and the employee agrees, announce the arrival of your new hire on your company's social media platforms. This can help foster a sense of inclusion and make them feel like part of the team.
  • Employee handbook: Ensure the new hire has read and understood the employee handbook. This resource can answer many questions they may have about company policies, and it’s crucial they’re aware of these from their first month onwards.
  • Regular check-ins: Organize regular check-ins as a key part of the employee onboarding process with the new hire during their first 90 days. These should ideally occur weekly initially, then progressively become less frequent. These sessions provide a platform for the employee to voice concerns, ask questions, and discuss their progress. In Hong Kong, a friendly, open, and respectful manner of providing feedback is appreciated.
  • Feedback and coaching: A continuous feedback loop is essential to ensure your new hire is adjusting well. In Hong Kong, feedback is typically provided in a private and respectful manner, prioritizing face-saving and harmony. Remember to keep the feedback constructive, actionable, and focused on professional development.
  • Goal-setting: Set clear and measurable goals for your new hire for their first 90 days. This not only gives them direction but also helps track their progress and productivity. Considering the high-efficiency work culture in Hong Kong, employees are used to specific and measurable targets. Align these goals with your company's overall objectives to foster a sense of belonging and purpose.
  • Team integration activities: Organize team integration activities to help your new employee build rapport with their colleagues. This could be as simple as team lunches or more structured team-building exercises. In Hong Kong, after-work activities like “Happy Hour” drinks are a common way for colleagues to bond and unwind.
  • Provide necessary training: Ensure your new hire receives any necessary training for their role. This could range from product training to software usage or even workplace etiquette. The importance of continuous learning is deeply ingrained in the Hong Kong work culture, making this an essential step.
  • Performance review: Towards the end of the 90 days, the hiring manager should conduct a performance review. This should review the employee's achievements, discuss any challenges, and set goals for the next period. This process, again, is an opportunity for constructive feedback and setting clear expectations for the future.

The first 90 days are crucial for a new hire. By providing support, clear goals, and a structured onboarding process, you can ensure they have a successful start at your company. Being aware of local customs and workplace culture will only enhance this process and help your new hire feel more comfortable and confident.

Onboarding new employees in Hong Kong is easy—and fast—with Rippling

If you're going to hire employees, contractors, or remote workers in Hong Kong, 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: March 26, 2024

The Author

Carissa Tham

A British Columbia-based tech content strategist and writer, Carissa has lived and worked in Singapore, Taiwan, and Canada. Carissa lends her unique global perspectives to growing Rippling’s brand in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.