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


Jul 21, 2023

Congratulations! You’ve officially hired your first employee in Switzerland. Next, you’ll take them through the onboarding process, an oft-overlooked but critical part of ensuring the employment relationship is a successful one.

Robust onboarding processes have a multitude of benefits. According to research, not only do businesses that take the time to structure their onboarding journey see a significant increase in profits, but 77% of their employees also successfully reach their performance goals. Additionally, new hires who have a positive onboarding experience are 20% more likely to expend additional discretionary effort to make their teams successful. Evidently, you have a lot to gain by fine-tuning your onboarding process.

The best-quality experiences have many moving parts, start before your employee does, and last 90 days after they begin their new post. Our new hire checklist will take you through everything you need to know about completing onboarding documents, providing access to apps and software, and developing a strong 90-day plan to help your new employee be successful and engaged.

Before their first day

  • Complete an employment background check. While background checks are legal in Switzerland, their scope is extremely limited. Aside from calling a person’s references and verifying their employment history, things like medical screenings and credit checks are either off limits or only permitted in certain roles.
  • Send an offer letter. An offer letter, also known as a work or employment contract in Switzerland, is a legally binding contract that defines aspects of the employment relationship between the employee and their employer. There are several types of work contracts in Switzerland, and they must all contain specific information. Ensure you’re utilizing the correct type of contract and including all necessary information before sending it to your new employee.
  • Do the necessary paperwork. In addition to the work agreement, you’ll likely have other paperwork your new employee needs to fill out and/or sign, such as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Get everything organized early on and try to make sure the paperwork is processed as seamlessly as possible.
  • Enroll them in benefits. Pensions, unemployment insurance, and paid vacation time are all mandatory benefits in Switzerland.
  • Add them to payroll. Swiss residents pay taxes at the federal, municipality, and administrative (cantonal) levels, so adding them to payroll is a complex task that will take time and insider knowledge of the Swiss tax system. Make sure you leave yourself enough time so you can pay them by the end of each month (unless the collective bargaining agreement says otherwise). Swiss employees are generally paid in Swiss Francs (CHF).
  • Send a welcome email. Before your new hire’s start date, send them a welcome email with useful information. Swiss work culture can be formal and professionalism is highly regarded, so make sure the email is in line with this. Address the person by their formal title, give them directions, let them know what the agenda will be, and so on.
  • Order and configure their devices and set up their app accounts. Dependability is an important value in Swiss working environments. To make your new hire’s onboarding experience a positive one, go ahead and order and configure the devices they’ll need prior to their first day. Then, set up their app accounts so they can hit the ground running.  
  • Schedule their orientation. Prior to their first day, schedule orientation events, like meetings with their team, 1:1 time with their manager, etc. Skip the getting-to-know-you games or the temptation to schedule a big dinner with the team. There’s actually an unspoken rule in Switzerland that once a person is off the clock, their coworkers are not to contact them. Instead, their time might be better spent getting to know their team on a professional level and learning what projects they’ll be working on.
  • Assign them an onboarding buddy or mentor. The onboarding experience will be far better if the new hire has one point person they can rely on to guide them through the process, introduce them to their new coworkers, and answer any questions they might have. Assign and introduce this mentor to the new hire before their first day to give the former time to prepare.
  • Prepare any resources they'll need. These can include:
    • An employee handbook, as well as important company policies, their official job description, and any copies of important paperwork they should keep
    • Your company's mission statement and a brief about your company culture and values
    • A “cheat sheet” of contacts, including Slack handles, email addresses, names, titles, and bios of their team members
    • Their agenda for the first week and a note detailing what to expect in the coming weeks
    • The company dress code (formal business attire is the norm in Switzerland, but some companies choose to do casual Fridays, so let your new hire know if they should expect this)
    • Any other role-specific resources they may need

On Day 1

  • Make sure their workspace is set up. Regardless of whether your new employee is remote or not, take the time to check on their workspace (whether it’s in person or via Zoom). First impressions are extremely important, and you want to show them your company is prepared to help them perform their job well.
  • Make sure they’ve reviewed their agenda and their cheat sheet, and give them time to ask questions. By this point, the employee should have received their welcome email with all the resources they’ll need to get started. Day one can be overwhelming, so make sure they have a chance to review everything you shared with them. Then, give them a few minutes to ask any last-minute questions in person. 
  • Have them meet 1:1 with their manager. Swiss business culture is very hierarchical. Managers, especially those who are high-ranking in the company, have all the decision-making power. It’s crucial for your new hire to spend time with their supervisor on the first day so they can ask questions, get to know what the person’s management style is like, gain a clear understanding of expectations, and so on. 
  • Have them meet 1:1 with their onboarding buddy or mentor. Ease the stress of a formal managerial meeting by having the new hire meet their mentor next. Now that they’re more acquainted with their manager and know what to expect, their mentor can give them a better sense of the company culture, the team, the projects, and how to succeed at your business. 
  • Give an office tour. Help your new hire orient themselves and give them a break from sitting in meetings with an office tour. They’ll get to see where everything is including their new workspace, the break areas, and bathrooms.

During their first 90 days

  • Schedule training. One of the first goals your new hire will tackle is learning about the company they’re working for, including its goals and values, and how their role fits into the bigger picture. After organizational training, shift to any job-specific training they might need to help them succeed in their new position. 
  • Start giving them assignments and help them set goals. Training can only go so far. At some point, you need to see how the new hire works with the team and what they can do. Start out slowly: Give them a couple of assignments, let them know which are the priorities, and help them set goals to measure their progress. One great way to set goals, in the beginning, is using a framework like SMART goals—setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. 
  • Schedule regular check-ins with either their mentor or supervisor. Considering Switzerland’s vertical hierarchy, it may be best to appoint an employee who’s still the individual’s superior, but not their manager to check in with them regularly. Set up regular meetings to talk about the progress they’re making and answer any questions. A check-in at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days is a good place to start, but depending on their working style and progress, more meetings may be necessary.
  • Offer regular feedback as they get settled in. Feedback is especially important in the beginning stages of onboarding so your employee can get a sense of the areas where they’re excelling and the areas where they could use improvement. This will help them adjust to the new role and meet expectations. 
  • Seek their feedback on how you can improve the onboarding experience. The best way to fine-tune your onboarding experience is to get feedback from the person going through the process. Ask them what worked, what didn’t, and how it can be improved for future hires.

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

If you're going to hire employees, contractors, or remote workers in Switzerland, 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: August 2, 2023

The Author

Carrie Stemke

A freelance writer and editor based in New York City, Carrie writes about HR trends and global workforce management and is the Rippling content team’s expert on hiring know-how in Western Europe.