Onboarding 101

The Importance of a New Hire’s First 90 Days.

Written by:

Jenna Hermans

COO & Co-Founder
onboarding 101

How to maximize your new employee’s first few months to ensure success for them and your business.

Have you ever stepped into a meeting after it started and felt a flush of self-consciousness that you caused an interruption? Did the meeting stop? Did your colleagues welcome you and bring you up to speed, or did they stare at you with blank faces and make you feel uncomfortable? 

When a new employee is not properly onboarded, they’ll feel similarly awkward. They won’t feel welcome. They won’t be sure what their contributions should be or how they’re meant to show up for the team.

What is onboarding and why is it so important?
Onboarding is about consciously and thoughtfully setting your employees up for success. An employee’s first experiences are the most critical and valuable moments you can use to lay a strong foundation with your company. 
  • Onboarding is an opportunity to create and nurture your ideal company culture.
  • Onboarding is an opportunity to show you care about your employees. Making new hires feel welcome and sharing with them your excitement to have them on your team will get them excited about working for you. 
The onboarding experience is one of the biggest influences for an employee’s happiness and longevity.
1 Multiple studies have shown a reduction in turnover and an increase in employee satisfaction with good onboarding experiences.
Like this one which describes how new hires at Texas Instruments who participated in a full onboarding process reached “full productivity” two months earlier than those who did not.
The onboarding gap
Consider the following stats that illustrate the large opportunity for a better onboarding experience:
  • A study by Glassdoor found a strong onboarding program improved retention by 82% and productivity by 72%.
  • A study by Gallup showed only 12% of new employees thought their onboarding experience was great – a huge opportunity for 88% of the rest of employees!
Human Capital Institute reports most companies only focus on the first week of an employee’s job, leaving employees feeling “confused and discouraged” after starting their second week. 2
How long should onboarding take?
The onboarding process isn’t just about the first day. Sure, there are infrastructure basics you need to cover – where someone is sitting, scheduling a meeting with their new boss, and showing them where the bathroom and refrigerator are.  But think a little more deeply about this first experience from the eyes of your new employee. Most employers overlook the opportunity to give employees a great impression of where they’re going to spend most of their time. What kind of home do you want this to be for your employee?  Successful onboarding should be a 90 day process. Research3 and personal experience has shown it takes 90 days (or one business quarter) for people to integrate into their work environment and feel like they have a handle on their new role.  I think most of us would say we’d be less likely to leave a company where we’re nurtured and which feels like a home away from home than one where we’re left to fend for ourselves to figure stuff out.
Successful onboarding tips
  1. Instead of making your new employee figure things out on their own, give them the resources they need to do their job. For example, set up meetings with key cross-functional partners to save them time finding the right person down the road. 

  2. Discuss expectations and what their role’s mission and purpose is, so your new super star will know what to focus on. 

Assign a “buddy” as a resource for your new hire. It doesn’t have to be someone in Human Resources or even their department, but a seasoned, positive, informative individual who a new person can go to for help on various questions they may have. Questions like, “Where’s the nearest Starbucks” to “What’s the best way to work with So and So Manager?” According to Human Capital Institute, 87% of firms who implemented a buddy system saw new employees get up to speed faster.

Example onboarding guide for the first month


Introduce your new hire to the organization (via Slack, company meeting, or email). This way, when your new employee reaches out to anyone in the organization, their colleagues know who they are. 

Conduct new hire orientation. I like to prepare a powerpoint that reviews the history of the company, mission, vision, purpose, tools, policies, and resources in a format the employee can refer back to later. 

Have your new hire meet their onboarding buddy and manager.


Review what the next three months will look like in your new hire’s 90 day onboarding program. 

Continue daily meetings for at least the first week with their manager. In these meetings, managers should review what the goals and objectives are for the new hire in a 30/60/90 day plan. This plan should include specific direction from the new hire’s manager on what’s important, what to read, who to meet, and what to accomplish in that time. Specifics are important so employees can feel positive momentum of getting what’s needed done!


Ask the new hire’s onboarding buddy to reach out to see how their first week went and address any questions or concerns. This is a great opportunity to get feedback on what onboarding activities are helpful or not and intervene before any situations escalate.


Set up meetings (no more than three a day) for a new hire to meet everyone in the organization (in small organizations). Helpful tip: To streamline this, create a google sheet and put the name of everyone at the company along with open blocks of time for them to quickly choose what works best for them. 

At these meetings colleagues will tell the new hire how they might work together, what they can help with, and  build rapport with their new work family. 

Get to know your new employee. I created this new employee survey that asks new employees how they like to be recognized (see this post on how to use love languages at work!). A survey could include how they most appreciate feedback, what time of day is their most productive, if they have food allergies, and more.

Helping the new kid on the block

Being the new employee on the block is like moving into a new school as a kid in the middle of the school year.  Wouldn’t it feel so much more welcoming if someone showed you how things worked, where to go with questions and invited you to their lunch table so you’re not sitting alone on your first day? I happened to be an “onboarding buddy” to a new girl in 6th grade, and guess what? LuAnne and I developed such a bond that 2 decades  later she was a bridesmaid in my wedding! That’s how powerful these connections can be. 

Thoughtful onboarding alleviates the overwhelming stress of being the new kid. And when that stress is gone, new hires can focus on making connections and learning.

Thoughtful and thorough onboarding doesn’t just help the individual, it helps the organization. Successful onboarding facilitates new employees to be more productive more quickly, translating into greater company achievements. 

Need help developing a thorough, thoughtful onboarding plan to increase retention and success?
Be Courageous can help!

1 https://journals.lww.com/academicmedicine/FullText/2014/05000/Executive_Onboarding__Ensuring_the_Success_of_the.16.aspx
2 https://www.saplinghr.com/10-employee-onboarding-statistics-you-must-know-in-2021
3 https://workinstitute.com/engagement-retention-services/onboarding-studies/

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Most of us agree that we are really only at the tip of a massive amount of change. The 2020s will be the decade of challenge for the globe.

Corporate Fragility


Most of us agree that we are really only at the tip of a massive amount of change. The 2020s will be the decade of challenge for the globe.

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