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Expert Editorial: The 90-Day Plan for Effectively Onboarding New Employees So They’ll Stay

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Here’s a 90-day onboarding plan designed to make sure employees
feel welcome and appreciated.

By Neil Solari 

 

When it comes to staffing, hiring someone to fill an empty position is only half the battle. If that person doesn’t stay with your company, you’ve wasted all of the time and resources that went into that search and have to do the whole thing over again. 

A critical component of employee retention is effectively onboarding new staff. A good onboarding sets a tone for that person’s employment. It’s how they learn what they need to know to succeed and understand where to go for information and how they fit into the company. What follows is a 90-day onboarding plan designed to make sure employees feel welcome and appreciated and will stay at the company over the long term. 

While this advice may seem general, the basics are very important. In my 20+ years as a talent recruitment specialist, I’ve been amazed how often people don’t do these things — and pay the price in lost talent because of it. 

Onboarding Plan for the First Day 

Once a new employee is hired, confirm their start date and what time they should arrive at the facility. Even if they’re working virtually, make sure there’s a set time when they’re supposed to start. 

When they arrive, the person’s boss should be there to greet them. That manager should have cleared their calendar for the day. Even though they won’t be by the employee’s side all day, they need to be available that whole first day for questions and training. 

The employee should have a clean place to work and any equipment they need, including a computer, ID badge and other necessary materials. That shows the new employee the company is organized and really wants them to be there. There should be a clear plan in place for what the first day is going to look like, and that should be communicated to the employee soon after arrival. There’s usually a lot of paperwork on that first day. It should be organized and ready to go, and they should do that before they start anything else.

One of the biggest apprehensions people have walking into a new environment is other people. Who will they be working with? Who are their teammates? It’s a really good idea on the first day to introduce them to as many people as possible. Let people know why the new employee is there and what they’re going to be doing.  

If there’s another person doing the same job at that company, new hires should be set up with a mentor early on their first day. It does two things: It gives the new person someone who is literally right there to help them, and it takes some of the pressure off the manager so they can return to their job. 

Get the new employee into their job as soon as possible on the first day. Give them a few assignments to complete that relate to their job description. The manager should communicate that they’ll be checking in on the person not because they’re micromanaging, but because they want them to have the best day possible. Also, the manager should plan to take the new person out to lunch. It’s a chance for the manager to get to know the person and understand what drives them, what their goals are and other things you don’t learn in an interview process. In addition, it’s a great time to reshare the company’s mission and goals. That reinforces buy-in and the idea that the person is working for a bigger cause than a paycheck.

Onboarding Plan for the First Week 

The theme of the first week is to get the new employee acclimated and comfortable, and to get them some early wins. Managers should plan to be very hands-on the first week, but spend a little less time with them each day. They should still be there helping the employee get accustomed to the job, but they should also be slowly drawing back a little and letting them shine. Give them an assignment they can complete in that first week so they feel like they’re achieved something early. 

Set up times for the person’s coworkers to take them out to lunch and get to know them. (It doesn’t have to be lunch; a coffee break, walk or other activity will work.) It’s also a really good idea to introduce the new person to company executives. Consider scheduling a lunch with leaders. If that isn’t possible, even stopping into each executive’s office and making an introduction shows the new hire that you’re serious about them and their growth.  

At the end of that first week, carve out 30 to 45 minutes to sit down with this new hire and talk about the week. Praise them for what they’ve done well. It’s really nerve wracking to start a new job, so don’t be critical at this point. Pick out the things you’ve been impressed with so far. Ask other team members how the person is doing and share positive feedback. 

Onboarding Plan for the First 90 Days 

Onboarding doesn’t end after the first week. In fact, the first 90 days are really critical. Two things are happening. The manager is keeping a watchful eye to make sure they’ve made the right hire. The candidate is doing the same thing: assessing whether they took the right job. 

Open, honest communication during that first 90 days is critical. If issues arise with the employee, address them head on. Make sure to give the employee the same latitude in bringing any concerns to management. 

There should be weekly check-ins for the first 90 days. To really do this right, check in with them on Monday to discuss expectations for the week, then talk to them on Friday to see how things went. 

Give the new hire more challenging tasks as time goes on for the first 90 days. This will motivate them and make sure they’re stimulated by the work, but it will also allow the manager to see how they do at completing these tasks. 

Toward the end of the first 90 days, there needs to be a formal review. Sit down with the new employee and provide a real evaluation of how they’re doing, including things they’re doing well and things they can improve on. Give them an open forum to express why they like working there and ask any questions they have. 

I really believe that when you hire someone, the feedback never ends. When I was managing huge teams, I made sure all of my managers sat down with their people at least once a month. Companies can avoid a lot of turnover with good communication, and the only cost is the manager’s time. Supervisors can withdraw a little after the first 90 days, but they should always be available to support the employee. Going that extra mile will go a long way toward keeping them at the company for the long term.  

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Neil Solari

Neil Solari is the founder and CEO of Intertwine, a talent acquisition firm that focuses solely on hospitality companies. Neil spent nearly 20 years as an executive at some of the largest recruiting firms in the United States before starting his own firm. His knowledge of the hospitality business dates back to his childhood; his family owns Larkmead Vineyards, one of the original post-Prohibition wineries in Napa. Contact Neil at www.intertwineinc.com

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1 COMMENT

  1. It is important also that the discussion at each check-in clarifies expectations around the outcomes the new employee is responsible for. Completing tasks will keep them busy, but understanding how these tasks relate to achieving specific results will help keep them engaged.

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