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The 90-Day Onboarding Plan for Successful Employee Onboarding

January 25, 2016
8 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged

Employee onboarding doesn’t stop after the first day or even first week. In many work environments, it is typical to meet the team, learn the rules, find out where the paper clips are located and jump into your first assignment. This formula isn’t built for success. Instead, onboarding programs need to focus on developing your new employee for the future and preparing them for the role at hand.
Don’t let these new hires fend for themselves. Provide direction, communication and guidance. Not sure how to incorporate these ideas into your onboarding process? Here’s what your 90-day onboarding plan should look like for both you and your new employee:

Month 1 - Getting Started

The first 30 days are a crucial part of the new employee’s impression (and progression) into your company. Their experience is important to how they interact within the workplace for the foreseeable future and how they are treated has a huge impact on whether they stay for the long haul. One-third of employees know if they will stay with their company long-term after their first week, so make your first impression the right one.

The first month of your onboarding plan is typically when your employee is learning the basic ins and outs of the company and job. You want your employee to be ready to jump into the workload as soon as possible, so lead by example. Show your employee the type of work you would like to accomplish as well as the process you would like them to follow.

This first month is also a great time to ensure they are acquainted with everyone in the office. It can be intimidating to be a newcomer, no matter the situation. This is especially true when taking a step in your career. Sympathize with your new hire by taking steps to ease the transition. Introduce them to their team and leadership, explain everyone’s role and how communication should take place. This will help them create connections both for lunchtime chats and random questions they might have in the beginning.

To Do: Implement a mentorship program!

Aside from giving your employees the introduction they need, mentoring programs help strengthen employee experience and engagement. Connecting employees with someone they can turn to for questions outside of their training shows you care about their experience. Even if they don’t utilize their mentor very often, it’s the effort you made that counts! Simply having someone there for new employees can make a huge difference in their experience.

Why? Companies benefit from mentoring programs because they contribute to the development of a better-trained and engaged workforce. 77% of companies with mentoring programs say they improve employee retention and job performance. Think back to one of your first entry-level positions. Wouldn’t you have been much more engaged and productive if you had someone to go to instead of reading through instructions for 30 minutes? If you feel your new employees are struggling to get into the groove of things this could be the perfect solution.

Loving these benefits? Here are some tips to make it happen:

  • Pair the new employee with the right individual. Ensure that new employees are with employees who know their stuff. This should be someone who has been at the company for at least a year, is in the same department or team as the new employee and will be a good influence.
  • Set program guidelines. Even if the mentor is someone the employee can go to for help, there should still be some ground rules. The program shouldn’t be used as an opportunity for new hires to solely depend on their mentor, so have mentors and mentees set communication and meeting terms that work for their availability to ensure the mentor’s time isn’t taken advantage of or the mentee isn’t left to fend on their own.
  • Provide them with resources they need. This goes for both the mentor and mentee. Both these individuals should have access to tools they need to help train and learn so that the program is able to be successful. Without these your mentor may have problems helping them to the full extent or even tracking the employee’s progress. Remember, mentors aren’t trainers, but knowledgeable employees who are able to help the new hire navigate a new company culture and its unique processes.

Here is a list that includes other areas your employee onboarding plan should introduce or focus on when welcoming and training your new employees:

  • Company culture
  • Company-specific platforms, intranet systems and complete company-specific training classes
  • Products and clients they should be familiar with
  • Career development planning with specific goals, metrics and KPIs
  • Setting career parameters
  • Creating goals for the new hire

Month 2 - Collaboration

After the new employee’s first 30 days of your onboarding plan, it’s time to really kick their responsibilities into gear. The following 30 days should be about testing the waters and challenging the new employee. This time is less about training and more about comprehensive work, handling clients, workloads and tasks, in addition to assigning accountability to the newcomer’s work. The second month marks when a new employee learns to sink or swim! In fact, HR industry studies show that 20% of turnover typically occurs in the first 45 days of employment.

During this time, encourage group work and invite them to take on tasks with other team members or departments. Let your new employee have a go at new and possibly difficult tasks that better showcase the work they will soon be doing. Ensure that yourself or another team member is there to help if need be and remember, even if they fail it doesn’t mean they aren’t cut out for the role. What matters is how they handle both the situation and their shortcomings. Adjusting to a new team and new responsibilities is difficult for even the best of us, so let them prove themselves with the understanding that their colleagues are there to keep one hand on the steering wheel - just in case!

One-third of employees know within the first week if they will stay with their company. Are you making the best first impression?

Here are a few other things to note as your new employee gets more comfortable in their position:

  • Encourage them to collaborate with other teams while starting to contribute to the conversation
  • Identify any issues or pain points that may come up while completing these tasks
  • Set up regular “checkpoints” to ensure communication and feedback
  • Try to learn what sort of feedback they respond to best
  • Reiterate goals and parameters set in the beginning

Month 3 - Gaining Independence

By the third month, you should feel confident in letting your new employee tackle challenges and projects on their own. With more freedom and experience, new employees begin to show success on their own while also accepting more responsibility for their work. Your new employee now has the ability to do work without constant help from you or the rest of the team. This means you have to hold them accountable as well. This sense of responsibility should be supported by the clear explanation of KPIs given within the first month of employment.

Even at this later stage, it is still fairly early in your new employee’s overall career at your company. Depending on the type of work or industry, it can be easy to slip into old habits and start micromanaging like you were in months past. If you find yourself having trouble in this area, attempt to work with your employee - not for them. Make them the team lead for a special project or task them with an important spreadsheet for a new client. These are great ways to push their skills and confidence while knowing they have the support from either yourself or other team members. As this last month goes on, continue to loosen the reins and let your new employee soar!

Once you can check off these tasks stated below, your new employee is done with the initial onboarding process and is ready for the big leagues.

The New Employee:

  • Works independently on projects
  • Holds accountability for their work
  • Is proactive and more involved in the company
  • Touches base for feedback about goals/metrics/KPIs going forward, which is probably the most important as 62% of employees say their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review.

Employee onboarding is where it all starts, and it significantly impacts employee retention and engagement. In fact, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they have a great onboarding experience. Don’t let time or other issues detract from training and developing your new employees.

Guide them to success not only for the benefit of retention and engagement, but also for the benefit of having happy and productive employee. Need more input on what you can do to better your process? Check out ClearCompany’s Onboarding software!


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