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The First 90 Days: Transitioning New Hires into Valuable Team Members

by Bart Macdonald

Dec 26, 2017

Everyone is new at some point. From first day jitters to the wave of panic that comes with making your first mistake, starting a new job can be downright daunting. Until one day, you find yourself juggling tasks and managing projects, beaming with productivity. But how and when does the rookie new-hire become the all-star employee?

With strategic employee onboarding, the transition from new hire to valuable team member takes place in the first 90 days.

Boosting engagement, optimizing productivity, and increasing employee retention, a strategic onboarding program sparks this new hire metamorphosis. But the transformation doesn’t just happen with the luck of time. It takes a clear, structured onboarding program to reach your new hire goals.

Here’s the 90 day break down to gaining valuable new team members through employee onboarding.

Day 1: With a stale first day, new hires expire

1 in 25 new hires leave their new job after a bad first day. Don’t miss the chance to make a lasting impression — the first day should be reserved for a warm welcoming to the team, company culture, and environment. Weaving esignaturing into preboarding lets you focus on giving new hires a first day experience that will get them excited and engaged.

Day 30: Connect, learn, and set goals

Making connections

Say you’re introduced to 10 people within 30 minutes of arriving to an event. What are the chances you’ll remember all 10 names an hour later? Strategize coworker introductions by detailing employee names, headshots, titles, and roles in a central onboarding location. To enhance the way new hires befriend their colleagues, learn about company culture, and access fundamental information, establish a buddy program as part of your early onboarding process.

Strategizing with early onboarding goals

New hires should have a detailed description of their position for a concrete understanding of their role. Setting clear, time-bound early onboarding goals gives new hires the structure they need to get moving in the right direction. Make expectations clear and provide full access to resources and assistance so that new hires can begin accomplishing manageable tasks.

Early training for accelerated success

Early tasks and projects can build confidence and highlight where new hires might need more training. Not all new hires have mastered every skill they’ll need. Ask about their preferred method of learning and use mentorship and structured training to accelerate success, guiding them on new software, tools, and skills.

Day 60: Collaborate, align, and hold accountable

Aligning goals and encouraging collaboration

Continue aligning new employees with company mission and values by fostering engagement, strengthening teams, and encouraging collaboration. Get the whole team involved in onboarding by holding regular group meetings. Set goals that align with the organizational strategy to help new hires realize how they can individually contribute to the company’s mission.

Delegating accountability and managing workflow

With ongoing training and support, new hires should start making more meaningful contributions. Keep the workflow process organized and centralized, so managers and employees can access and update progress, holding new hires accountable for their own work.

Day 90: Increase responsibility and pursue Development Plans

Increasing responsibility

As new hires become more independent, their responsibilities should increase. Encourage new employees to contribute ideas and take the reigns on bigger, long-term projects. With the training and support they’ve been receiving, they’re now ready to carry out all responsibilities their role entails.

Establishing ongoing engagement with Employee Development

87% of Millennials — the largest share of the US workforce — report that professional development or growth opportunities are very important in a career. Making sure new hires are happy with their Employee Development Plans will keep them engaged and on board with the company. As onboarding comes to an end, the structure of a Development Plan can ensure that new hires stick around to continue growing with the organization.  

Enhancing onboarding: Check in and measure success

Checking in regularly

When it comes to the first 90 days, don’t leave your new hires guessing whether they’re making it or breaking it. Companies using strategic recognition are 48% more likely to report high employee engagement. If your new hires are on track, recognize their success. If not, communicate with them to find out what’s happening. Onboarding check-ins can reveal where new hires are excelling or where they might need a bit of help, so schedule meetings around days 1, 7, 30, 60, and 90.

Measuring engagement and improving the onboarding process

Glassdoor reports that 90% of job seekers find it important to work for a company that embraces transparency. Incorporate regular, candid feedback into your onboarding process to find out what is and isn’t working in your new hire onboarding. Strategic surveying and the use of key metrics can help you measure new hire engagement and refine an onboarding program that accelerates the transition of your new hires into valuable team members.  

Understanding how to develop new hires within their first 90 days can go a long way towards boosting employee productivity and engagement. Want to learn more about building better connected, more engaged, and higher performing teams?

Download the Sapling Guide to Employee Onboarding Success or signup for a demo of Sapling below.


Bart Macdonald

Bart is a Co-Founder and CEO of Sapling. He’s passionate about building software and training programs that prepare today’s HR leaders for the Future of Work. Prior to Sapling, Bart was an early employee at General Assembly in the education-technology space, and before that was an HR Consultant designing Onboarding and L&D programs for companies from 10 to 10,000 employees. He holds a degree in Human Resource Management from Macquarie University in Sydney, and is now a proud Californian resident.