Effective Onboarding: 90 Days to Build a Firm Foundation

When it comes to onboarding, the first 90 days of employment are the most crucial. Studies say that’s when 20 percent of employee turnover happens. In just three months, one of every five people starting a new job today will have left.

Add into the mix the fact it costs roughly $4,000 to fill an average open position and you can see why that’s such an alarming statistic. Especially for those industries that already have high rates of employee turnover.

How do we swing the pendulum in our favor and keep those employees around? What steps can we take to bring that rate back down to earth? Well, it all centers on what happens during that first 90 days. 

Offer Accepted

Ok, so maybe it’s a little longer than the first 90 days. This is where the process really starts. Offer accepted means onboarding has begun!

Don’t go radio silent when your new team member accepts. In today’s competitive market, you should assume another employer with open positions will make a counter offer and try to woo them away.  Don’t lose your candidate before they even start!

Keep in mind the timeframe from acceptance to start date is usually a couple of weeks but could be even longer so start developing an arsenal of touches to stay connected to your new team member.   Company and team member information can be very helpful in maintaining excitement and interest.   Sharing exciting company information (as long as it’s not confidential) will make them feel like part of the team.  Sharing the agenda for the first day is also a good idea – communicating more, not less, will reduce stress and get things off to a good start.  

First Day

It’s a big deal for the new hire. Make sure he or she knows they are a big deal to you!

You don’t need balloons and streamers, but simple things like having their desk prepared with a computer, phone and supplies will keep them from feeling like an afterthought.  A positive first day should also include a plan involving lunch out and time to meet all team members.  Many organizations assign mentors to help the new team member navigate office protocol and build relationships. When in doubt, ask yourself: “If my new hire gets a call from a competitor tonight, will their first day experience tempt them to walk?”  If the answer is “yes”, you know your first-day plan needs upgraded.

Introduce the “End Game”

More and more we are learning that a key to engagement and retention is for employees to know that they matter and that what they do for eight hours a day matters. 

Find a meaningful way to help your new employee learn what the company’s mission is about and how their position fits in to the larger plan. Consider connecting them with a longtime client via one-on-one or a pre-taped interview to get a feel for the organization’s impact. Have them interview various team members to get to know the day-to-day and understand how the pieces fit. Getting your new hire to understand their role and impact in that first week will position them for success in the years to come.

A well-planned onboarding experience can help your company solidify relationships early on and create engagement for the long term.  

Janette Fiedler

Janette is a seasoned sales professional with extensive experience in consulting with small to mid-size businesses in Eastern Iowa. She creates long term relationships built on an authentic approach that generates repeat relationships. Specialties: Human Resources Outsourcing, Payroll Administration, Benefits Administration.


July 26, 2018

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Janette Fiedler