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Best onboarding process: How the first 90 days determine longevity
HR Strategies

Best onboarding process: How the first 90 days determine longevity

Pearl Remedios
June 7, 2024

Imagine walking into a highly recommended restaurant for the first time, excited to taste their famous dishes. But as soon as you enter, you find no one to greet you, the tables are cluttered, and the menu is nowhere to be found. The chaos and lack of organization immediately dampen your enthusiasm.

The onboarding process too is a very similar scenario. For an employee, onboarding becomes a crucial period that significantly impacts a new employee's integration, engagement and retention within a company. The first 90 days are especially critical, as they set the tone for the employee’s experience and can determine their long-term success and loyalty. Here's a look at why these initial months are so important and what constitutes an effective onboarding process.

Best practices for the first 90 days

Setting the stage for the first 90 days of your new hire is pivotal. Here’s how to make those crucial early days count:

Day one of onboarding:

The first day sets the tone for the entire onboarding experience, making it critical to ensure a warm welcome and a meticulously planned schedule for your new hire.  Begin by greeting them warmly and providing a clear agenda for the day, which helps set a positive tone and reduces any initial anxiety. Introduce the new hire to their immediate team members and key contacts within the organization, fostering early connections and a sense of belonging. 

Additionally, provide an overview of the entire onboarding plan, outlining what they can expect in the coming days and weeks, to give them a clear understanding of their journey ahead. This structured and welcoming approach lays the foundation for a smooth and successful onboarding experience.

2. First week

During the first week, the primary focus should be on cultural assimilation and initial role-specific training. Introduce the new hire to the company's values, mission, and cultural practices to help them feel integrated and aligned with the organization's ethos. 

Alongside this cultural orientation, provide targeted training that equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their specific role effectively. This ensures they start feeling confident and competent in their new position quickly. 

Additionally, begin outlining short-term goals and expectations, ensuring the new hire understands their immediate objectives and how their contributions will be measured. This combination of cultural immersion and focused training sets a strong foundation for the new hire's success and engagement.

3. First month

In the first month, gradually increase the new hire’s responsibilities as they become more comfortable with their role and the company environment. This progressive approach helps build their confidence and competence without overwhelming them. 

Additionally, conduct formal feedback sessions to address any initial challenges they may be facing and to celebrate their early successes. These sessions provide an opportunity for constructive dialogue, allowing the new hire to voice concerns, ask questions, and receive guidance, fostering a supportive and collaborative atmosphere that promotes their ongoing development and integration.

4. Second and third month

In the second and third months, continue to support and integrate the new hire into broader company initiatives, helping them understand how their role fits within the larger organizational context. 

Encourage their involvement in projects that align with their skills and interests to keep them engaged and motivated. Regularly assess their fit, progress, and satisfaction through structured feedback sessions, providing a platform for ongoing communication and adjustment. This ongoing support and engagement ensure that the new hire continues to grow and feel valued within the company.

Importance of the first 90 days

First impressions:  

The initial experience shapes the employee's perception of the company culture, values, and expectations. Positive first impressions foster a sense of belonging and commitment.

Engagement and motivation:

Proper onboarding increases engagement by helping employees understand their roles, how they fit into the organization, and the impact of their contributions. Engaged employees are more motivated and productive.

Reducing anxiety and turnover:

The first few months can be stressful for new hires. A structured onboarding process alleviates anxiety by providing clarity and support, thus reducing the likelihood of early turnover.

Skill acquisition and performance:

Early training and development ensure that employees gain the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their duties effectively. This boosts confidence and competence, leading to better performance.

Components of an effective onboarding process

Here are the components of an effective onboarding: 


To make new hires feel welcome, send a welcome email or package before their start date, showing them they are valued and helping them feel prepared. Provide essential information packets about the company, team, dress code, parking, and other logistical details to reduce first-day anxiety.


Introduce new hires to the company culture by conducting sessions that explain the company’s mission, vision, values, and history. Ensure all administrative setup is completed, including necessary paperwork, system access, and workspace arrangements, so new hires can start smoothly.

Role-specific training:  

Clearly outline job duties, goals, and performance expectations to give new hires a clear understanding of their responsibilities. Provide necessary training for tools, software, and processes relevant to their role to help them build the skills they need to succeed.

Social integration:  

Facilitate introductions and social interactions with colleagues and key stakeholders to help new hires build relationships and feel part of the team. Assign a mentor or buddy to guide them through the initial phase, offering support and advice.

Regular check-ins:

Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to address any concerns, provide feedback, and discuss progress. Be open to making adjustments based on the new hire’s feedback and experiences to ensure they feel supported and heard.

Long-term development plan:

Discuss long-term career goals and potential growth opportunities within the company to show new hires a clear career path. Encourage their participation in ongoing training and professional development programs to support their continuous learning and development.

Measuring success

To measure the success of the onboarding process, start by regularly collecting feedback from new hires about their experience. This feedback helps identify areas for improvement and ensures that the onboarding program meets their needs. Additionally, track key performance indicators to confirm that new hires are meeting expectations and progressing as planned. Finally, monitor retention rates of employees who have completed the onboarding process to evaluate its effectiveness. High retention rates indicate a successful onboarding program, while lower rates highlight areas that may need adjustment.


A well-structured onboarding process during the first 90 days is vital for setting up new employees for success. It fosters engagement, reduces turnover, and ensures that new hires are well-integrated and productive, ultimately contributing to the long-term success of both the employees and the organization.


What is the 30-60-90 day rule?

The 30-60-90 day rule is a framework used in onboarding to set goals for new hires in their first three months. It breaks down expectations and milestones for learning, contributing, and establishing long-term goals within specific timeframes: 30 days for learning, 60 days for contributing, and 90 days for demonstrating proficiency and setting long-term goals.

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