How to Effectively Onboard New Employees with a 90-day Roadmap

Employee onboarding 90-day roadmap

Hiring the perfect candidate is only half the battle – ensuring they ramp up quickly and become a productive, engaged member of the team is equally crucial. An effective 90-day onboarding plan can make all the difference in setting new hires up for long-term success.

A well-designed roadmap covers everything from their first-day welcomes to getting hands-on with real work. It provides the training, coaching, and clear expectations they need to hit the ground running. Just as importantly, it facilitates building connections and reinforces the company’s culture and values.

Here is a comprehensive 90-day plan that companies of all sizes can implement to create an exceptional onboarding experience:

The Welcome Package

First impressions matter. A thoughtful welcome package lets new employees know they are valued from day one. Components can include a personalized letter from the CEO or leadership, company swag like t-shirts and water bottles, and branded desk accessories. But go beyond the typical bundle by including curated materials spotlighting the company mission, culture, and what makes it unique.

Share explanations of core values, examples of how those values are lived out, and team member testimonials. For extra impact, compile this into a professional binder or booklet. Conclude with a “buddy” section introducing the peers and mentors they’ll be paired with.

The Orientation Process

While paperwork and administrative housekeeping is a must, the real goal of orientation is to fully immerse new hires in the company’s environment and their specific team. HR overviews covering policies, benefits, and compliance are table stakes. The real engagement comes from:

  • Scheduling 1-on-1 or small group meetings with cross-functional leaders who reinforce the company’s mission and openly discuss the cultural principles.
  • Hosting a facility tour to see all areas of operation and meet different teams.
  • Introductions to their specific team with team-building activities to start bonding.
  • Overviews of the team’s current roadmap, key projects, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Enrolling in relevant professional development courses/certifications tailored to their role and growth plan.

In addition to HR’s standard training modules (DEI, IT security, etc.), conduct comprehensive skills training specific to the tools, systems, processes, and duties involved in their day-to-day work.

The 90-Day Roadmap

With formal introductions and training out of the way, the 90-day plan gradually increases responsibilities and hands-on experience in their new role. A suggested schedule:

  • Weeks 1-2: HR orientation, facility tours, meet the team and leadership.
  • Weeks 3-4: Intensive training covering tools, systems, processes, and job duties.
  • Weeks 5-6: Job shadowing with their buddy to see how it all comes together.
  • Weeks 7-8: Take on real assignments with heavy buddy support and guidance.
  • Weeks 9-12: Increase workload and ownership of tasks with regular check-ins.

The Buddy System

Implementing a strategic buddy system is critical for seamlessly integrating new employees into the existing team dynamics. Assign two buddies per new hire:

1) A peer mentor around the same level who can provide guidance on day-to-day tasks, introductions to other team members, and advice on navigating procedures and unwritten cultural norms.

2) A leadership mentor to help them understand bigger-picture strategy, give visibility into expectations for career growth, and coach on developing managerial/leadership skills.

Well-executed buddy pairings create relationships built on trust and candid feedback. The consistency also ensures no new hire slips through the cracks.

Check-ins and Continuous Feedback

Frequent formal check-ins ensure the roadmap is progressing smoothly and provide a forum for new hires to raise any issues or gaps. Best practices include:

  • Weekly 30-minute syncs with their direct manager
  • Monthly check-ins with HR
  • Quarterly check-ins with their leadership mentor
  • Continuous peer feedback via their buddy relationship

Additionally, incorporate a 360-degree feedback process at the 90-day mark where new hires receive an assessment from their manager, buddies, team members, HR rep, and any other key stakeholders they interact with. This well-rounded, multi-perspective analysis ensures all angles are covered.

The 90-Day Review

The 90-day milestone isn’t the finish line – it’s a critical checkpoint to evaluate progress, make adjustments, and define future development areas. Components of the 90-day review include:

  • New hire self-evaluation on culture fit, ability to collaborate cross-functionally, understanding of role expectations and key responsibilities, and professional growth areas.
  • Manager evaluation of productivity, quality of work, communication abilities, eagerness to learn, ownership/proactivity in taking on new tasks.
  • Setting concrete goals and a professional development roadmap for the next 6 months – 3 years aligning with long-term role aspirations.
  • Open discussion on areas for improvement, additional coaching/training needs, ideal career trajectory, and revising the long-term development plan accordingly.
  • Continue buddy relationships or transition to new mentors as needed.
  • While performance bonuses are not common within the first 90-days of employment, they should be addressed and expectations clearly set for the long-term.

Driving Long-Term Success

The 90-day mark is just the beginning of a new hire’s journey. However, implementing a robust roadmap standardizes how they ramp up and integrate into the company. It provides ample coaching, training, and clear expectations. Perhaps most importantly, it builds connections – reinforcing the organization’s culture while making new employees feel welcomed and setting them up for long-term success.

The onboarding process and post-90-day roadmap should also highlight the hidden power of teams particularly where the new employee is creating the most impact. Within the first year, the organization should host a stay interview as part of the overall employee experience. For optimal employee engagement, however, the initial onboarding plan should only be one component of a broader employee experience plan, informed by an employee journey audit.

By investing in this level of onboarding, companies will reap the rewards of higher employee engagement, faster time-to-productivity, and better retention rates for their newest team members.