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An Employee’s First 90 Days

Up to 20 percent of employee turnover happens in the first 90 days on the job – yikes. Luckily, there are several easy steps you can take to integrate your employee into the company before he jumps ship. We will look at what your responsibilities and expectations should be during a new employee’s first 3 months at your organization. With a little bit of careful planning, you should be able to welcome and acclimate your new employees with no problem.

Welcome mat Why is turnover so high in the first 90 days?

It’s always a possibility that someone was misled, either employer or employee. It’s no surprise that job-seekers stretch the truth on their resumes, but an employer eager to woo a bright interviewee might oversell a position that is not well-suited for the applicant. The easy way to prevent this from happening is to be honest from the get-go. If what you need is a numbers guy, don’t hire a creative type just because she’s exciting or talented. You should also ask specific questions when you reference check to ensure that the applicant’s resume checks out.

There are a multitude of other reasons that new employees fail fast. They may have poor work habits, interpersonal conflicts, a bad manager, or any other number of issues. Employees also leave because they don’t feel welcomed or invested in their new company, and the good news is that you can prevent this at your company.

What can you do to reduce turnover?

What should you do before your new employee shows up? Does she have a desk to sit at, pens to write with, a phone that works? Does the rest of the team know she’s about to show up? Can you send any of the boring HR forms to the new employee to complete before Day 1? When a new employee is greeted by a ready-to-go workstation and welcoming co-workers, he knows that the company is serious about him and that he is expected to start contributing right away. But don’t rush things–spend time on training and orientation first. Make sure that the new guy gets a tour of the office and the building and that he is introduced to his co-workers and understands their positions in the company.

The first few days should be scheduled with very little downtime, but it doesn’t have to be all work. Plan to take  your new employee to lunch and to let him get to know his co-workers and feel comfortable at the company. All this will help with the employee onboarding process. Stay close and available, but don’t hover. Your new employee’s first 30 days (or so) should also be fairly structured. You want to pack a lot of training in here, but you also want to leave time for her to work on projects. Your new employee is undoubtedly excited about the company and her position, so 40+ hours a week of training without contributing anything to the work you do can be disheartening.

Depending on the job requirements and the individual’s experience, your new employee will most likely be transitioning from trainee to full-fledged employee after a few weeks. Remember to keep checking in and responding to feedback. Even when you get used to seeing him everyday, he’s still the new guy and he will have a lot of questions. Keep expectations reasonable and work with him to set attainable short-term and long-term goals.

What can you expect from your new employee?

At the end of 90 days, your employee should understand and have bought in to your organization’s mission, vision and goals. This is key to the success of the individual as well as the company. She should also have completed any required initial training, but will probably still have much to learn.

Your employee should begin actively contributing to the organization’s work as soon as possible. You can achieve this by assigning short, rewarding projects that will give your new employee a sense of achievement and progress right away. She should also be making progress on ongoing projects at this time. If you see results much faster than 90 days, your employee may be rushing through training–this should be a red flag, and you should discuss the importance of training with her.

The 90 Day Review

This should be a time for goal-setting with your employee. Hopefully you have been offering constructive criticism and learning opportunities throughout the past several months, so there should be few surprises in this meeting.

You also want to ask for your employee’s feedback on processes and procedures at the company. Listen and make changes based on this feedback. A few good questions to ask:

  1. How does the job compare to your expectations?
  2. What could we have done to make you feel more welcome?
  3. Who has been the most helpful in training and welcoming you?
  4. Where would you like to see yourself go at the company from here?

It can be difficult to measure employee buy-in, but hopefully you can use this meeting to improve your processes and ensure success for your new employee from then on out. Remember to check in with your employee even after this meeting, especially when they are attending a new event, dealing with a new client, etc. for the first time. If you follow these guidelines, your brilliant new hires will surely become invested in and invaluable to your organization.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user romulusnr.

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