How To Make The Most Of Your Employee’s First 90 Days At Work


The first 90 days at a new job are filled with a ton of bumps and bruises. As employees get used to new faces, rules, and responsibilities, there are bound to be some challenges. The best employee onboarding programs seek to look beyond the first week. The purpose of onboarding is to ensure that you create a successful long-term relationship with your new hire.

Why Are The First 90 Days So Important?

When you hire a new employee, the first 90 days of their employment timeline are crucial. In 2018, a survey was performed of 1,500 American workers. Most of these professionals are young and technologically savvy—and 33 percent of surveyed employees quit their jobs within the first 90 days of employment.

But why would someone who was looking for a job leave that position so soon? There are many potential answers to that question, but one thing that almost guarantees turnover is unpreparedness. If your employees feel like you were unprepared to bring them in, or they feel unprepared to tackle the job, they’ll want to move on to a better company.

Employees are loyal, but you have to give them something to be loyal to.

The first 90 days of employment is one of the most important times for workers. We suggest putting together a 90-Day Plan to make the most out of your employee’s first 90 days at work.

What Is A 90 Day Plan?

A 90-day plan is an action plan that articulates your intentions for the first 30, 60, and 90 days of a new job.

It lists your high-level priorities and actionable goals, as well as the metrics used to measure success in those first three months. If you create a great plan, it will help organize the training process. You should see that your new employee has ample and adequate training to do their job right.

You can choose to set goals 30 days at a time or work to produce the perfect plan that gets a new hire fully ramped and taking initiative in 90 days.

Ensure that this plan is accessible to everyone and that your employees understand the 90-day plan before starting. For example, you can create this plan in Google Drive and add your new hires so you can collaborate on their plan. Transparency during the training period allows your new employee to know your expectations and share any questions they may have about the process.

Once you’re clear on your high-level priorities, set specific goals that ladder up to your priorities for the 30, 60, and 90-day phases. These goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

Within this article, we’ll cover the different phases within your 90-day plan, actionable activities within those phases, and how to ensure employee and employer success.


Days 1-30: Learning

There’s a lot more that goes into the first thirty days of employment than you might think. Your new employees are getting acclimated to the job itself, your company, and the workplace culture. It can sometimes be overwhelming for a new hire (especially if this is their first job.)

Most activities within the first thirty days will be overseen by managers or higher-level staff that are trusted to guide your trainees.

During the learning stage, your new hires are probably taking part in the following activities:

Learning About Company Policies, Procedures, Values, Etc.

If you value your employees, one of the first things you will do is go through policies, procedures, and values with your new hires. Taking the extra time to do this (even if they could do this on their own time) helps solidify what your organization is all about. This is your chance to set expectations and be clear on what you want from new hires.

Going through the “nuts and bolts” of company policies, procedures, etc., typically helps alleviate any questions about metrics they might need to hit, benefits available to them, and any other first month worries.

Going through this process early on also helps employees determine if they’ve chosen the right company. If they feel misaligned, they can ask questions, and (worst case) they can part ways with your organization before you both get too involved.

Getting To Know Team Members And Other Relevant Stakeholders

Many high-level companies use the “buddy” system to match new hires with current employees who fit their personality type. This mentoring helps with training procedures, allows workplace friendships to flourish, allows the new hire to become more comfortable, and encourages workplace transparency.

If you’re using a cohort model to onboard employees, you’ll also want to ensure that you give new hires a chance to bond. Since all of your new hires are getting to know the company simultaneously, they can commiserate and find joy in all the same things. In addition, if you have people from different departments going through onboarding at the same time, it’s an awesome way to get to know people from across the company (in a laid-back way.)

Make sure that older employees are reaching out and finding ways to connect with new employees. A simple Slack message can go a long way to making new hires feel welcome.

Performing Their Job Duties With Handholding And Managerial Oversight

During the first thirty days, you’ll likely need to work closely with your new employees to ensure that they are getting work done and finishing their assignments. If you haven’t started having one-on-ones with your employees, this is essential to their continued success. Spending time with your employees weekly (even after the onboarding process is complete) is essential.

By the end of the thirty days, you should see most of your new hires managing tasks independently. While you might have some “late bloomers,” it’s important to meet with all new hires at this time and coordinate on how they’ve been doing the past thirty days. You can identify points of improvement during this time, as well.

Days 31-60: Contributing

Now, your new hires are “out of the nest,” so to speak. They’ve been doing tasks mostly on their own, have been with the company for a while, and contributed to the team.

This is called the Contributing stage, and it’s an integral part of the new hire experience. This stage often sets the tone for the rest of the working relationship. During this stage, your new hire has gotten up-to-speed with the company and their position within it.

You’ll want to see the following activities take place during this stage.

Managing Their Schedule And Performing Their Role As Close To Full Capacity As Possible

While it’s important to make sure your new employee is doing their job correctly, this stage requires a little patience. You should expect questions from your new hires, as they’re likely to experience situations that training didn’t cover, or reiteration might be required. While they should be doing most things alone at this stage, ensure they have assistance available to them if needed.

If you’re getting many of the same questions, create a quick guide for your employees or point them to what you’ve already created for this job duty. Flex your patience muscle to teach employees how to do things without doing it for them.

Finding Support From Colleagues And Communicating In Meetings

Now that the new staff member has their “foot in the door,” you need to reinforce their support system and willingness to communicate.

Make sure their voice is heard in team meetings by encouraging them to speak up and asking for their opinions. Also, ensure they are included in company get-togethers and events. If you see that they aren’t included due to an oversight, add your new hire to the invite or make sure they are aware of the event.

Feeling included and appreciated in the workplace helps ideas grow and keeps morale high.

Writing Down Onboarding Processes That Could Use Improvement

Now’s the perfect time to find out if your current onboarding processes need improvement. A fresh set of eyes is sometimes needed to evaluate your current methods. Who better to provide that feedback than your new employee?!

Have your worker write down suggestions for onboarding processes that could use improvement throughout the month. Some of the best ideas come from new hires innovating on practices already in place.

Spend some time going through all of their suggestions at the end of their sixty days with your organization. Then, keep new hires in the loop in case you decide to implement any of their suggestions?


Days 61-90: Taking Initiative

Now we’re ready to roll! Your employee has had time to acclimate to the position, their co-workers, and the company. It’s likely their creative wheels are turning, and now they’re ready to take initiative.

Now that they’ve been with the company for a while, you might be able to see potential in them for future promotions. It’s time to allow them to show their skills by letting them head a sidelined project or letting them spearhead one of their own.

This is called the Taking Initiative stage, and this is where the fun really starts!

Here are three activities to help you take advantage of this stage:

Leading Up A Small Project

One of the best things to do during the taking initiative stage is to let your new employee lead a small project. First, work with your employee during their first sixty days to understand what kind of project they’d like to lead and what your team needs most. Then, work with them to create an easy-to-follow thirty-day timeline.

You might want to pull out an old project that never got off the ground or work with them on something completely new.

Give them the breathing room to focus energy on the project, support them with a small budget to delegate tasks, and see their leadership muscles blossom.

Throughout this experience, check in with your new hire to make sure that things are progressing as they should be. Encourage your new staff member to ask questions and use you as a resource to make sure the project gets over the finish line.

Looking For Solutions To Streamline Processes And Get Work Done More Efficiently

When we take on new employees, we give them a lot of baggage. We show them how things have always been done and our best practices for handling a certain task.

As new employees enter our organization, they bring their own expertise to the equation. For example, your new hires may know a shortcut or be interested in researching one after seeing how redundant the current process is.

Encourage new employees to take some ownership over their job duties. What can be improved upon? Is there a tool or course that can show them how to do their job better? If so, encourage your employees to learn those new techniques that will make their jobs more efficient.

Building A High-Level Personal Development Plan For Their Time At The Organization

Around this time in their employment, you might start seeing future promotions and company growth potential.

Work with your new staff members to uncover their personal career goals. Do they have their next steps in mind?

Encourage employees by sharing their strengths and working through any weaknesses you might have seen. How can your organization help them on their self-improvement journey?

After you understand their goals, strengths, and weaknesses, work on an in-depth personal development plan with your employee. What do they need to learn or do to get to the next stage in their career with your organization?

Let your new employee know that you are willing to take that journey with them. Share what you will do to invest in them.

Different People And Departments Have Different Ramp Up Speeds

Some of your employees will catch on right away, especially if you’ve hired them as temporary workers before joining full-time.

However, different departments (such as sales or customer service) might also have a slower ramp-up period, as people learn the product and get comfortable communicating with customers. It’s also important to keep in mind the uniqueness of each employee. You should be as accommodating as possible, within reason.

If you can’t fit within the 90-day ramp-up period, that’s okay. Extend it to make sure that you are covering these crucial areas. Staying flexible is important to ensure your employees are trained and prepared for the job.

Start Their First 90 Days On The Right Foot With An Excellent Employee Onboarding System

Are you trying to hit the ground running on day one of your 90-day plan? If so, you’ll want an employee onboarding software that can collect new hire paperwork before day one. Starting a new job should be fun. You don’t want the first day of a new job to be tethered to a desk signing your name fifty times. Remote onboarding can drastically improve the new hire experience for employees and HR staff alike.

Onboarding is typically challenging for new hires. Staring down a huge packet of 20+ pages to start working isn’t easy. It can make the entire process feel overwhelming. Onboarding software like WorkBright allows new hires to take the process one step at a time. New hires can fill out forms over the course of multiple days and get quick feedback from administrators if they make a mistake on their forms.

For HR staff, using WorkBright is a no-brainer. It ensures that paperwork is completed on time with automated reminders, allows you to check off paperwork a little at a time (without feeling overwhelmed or disorganized), and creates less panic for time-sensitive forms like the I-9.


Together, we’ve gone through what a 90-day plan is and why your business and hiring process should have one. We also discussed the different stages of a 90-day plan and activities to measure during each step.

It’s up to the employer to ensure their employee’s first 90 days at work is the best it can be, but it’s easy to accomplish with some due diligence. Check-in with your new employees along the way and provide the best atmosphere in which they can prosper.

You’d be surprised how much communication can impact the success of your employee onboarding program.