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Studies show that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.

A crucial element of this process is the 30 60 90 day plan, widely recognized as a best practice for integrating new team members effectively into the company culture and ramping up their productivity.

Incorporating good onboarding software into this framework can further enhance the new employee's experience. Such software streamlines the initial stages of onboarding, ensuring that the 30 60 90 day plan is implemented efficiently and effectively.

While there are many ways to improve your onboarding experience, making use of the 30 60 90 day plan has one of the best ROIs I know of.

Here, we'll cover the following:

  1. What Is A 30 60 90 Day Plan?
  2. A Metaphor For Thinking About Your 30 60 90 Day Plans
  3. The First 30 Days
  4. The 30-60 Day Range
  5. The 60-90 Day Range
  6. Beyond 90 Days

Your 30-60-90 Day template

Here's our tried and true onboarding template to start off your new employee experience the right way.


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1. What Is A 30 60 90 Day Plan?

A 30 60 90 day plan is an action plan that helps guide new employees through their first 90 days in their new job. It will outline, and help track the completion of, typical orientation activities such as reading through the employee handbook, any training that needs to take place, as well as help the new starter get to grips with the role, responsibilities, performance goals and KPIs, and kickstart discussions around personal goals and career development.

By giving new hires a template of what is expected of them, they’re able to see the big picture and where they fit into your organization that much faster. The ultimate objective is to make new starters feel welcomed and to help them prioritize what they should be doing to get productive as quickly possible.

In turn, this will also help boost employee engagement, motivation and retention.

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The First 30 Days

The focus on the first 30 days is all about gaining a deep understanding of the org, their role, tools they’ll be using, how success is measured, and the part they’ll play. 

This portion of the 90-day plan will have the most overlap across all new hires regardless of role, department, or seniority.

The 30-60 Day Range

Here new starters still have the training wheels on but are starting to get more involved in projects and focus on their roles and responsibilities. This period is where the plan starts to diverge depending on the role, department, and seniority.

The 60-90 Day Range

Now the training wheels have come off the new starter now has a lot of leeway and independence regarding how they want to go about tackling their role and the responsibilities with it. This portion of the 90-day plan really depends on the role and the individual themselves.


An Analogy For Thinking About Your 30 60 90 Day Plans

When it comes to 30 60 90 day plans, you should have a template that fits for every new employee.

But, of course, you’ll have people starting their new job in junior roles, perhaps their first job out of university. Or they may be coming in at a VP level, as a software engineer, a marketer, in finance, or joining the sales team. They may be a people person or an introvert.

In that case, having a one-size-fits all approach for a 30 60 90 day plan isn’t going to work and trying to develop one isn't a realistic goal.

But, you don’t want to be drawing up a fresh 90 plan every single time. Sure, if you’re a small organization that hires a handful of people a year, you could get away with this. But what if you’re hiring by the hundreds or thousands? Your human resources team won't be too happy about it.

The best way to do so is to think of your 30 60 90 day plan like a food menu.  

Let’s start with the main course.

This is what's going to be included in all 30 60 90 day plans, regardless of department or seniority.

It's the information everyone should know when starting their new job, for example:

  • Values of the organization
  • Goals of the organization
  • History of the organization
  • An understanding of the technology and tools your organization uses.

Now, we can get more specific. 

Using our food menu analogy, these are the side dishes. For someone in a sales manager role, they will have specific side dishes. They’ll have metrics and goals that differ from someone starting a new position in software development.

From this, you can create various templates depending on the department or seniority level. 

Finally, we get down to the individual level.

Everyone has different experiences, outlooks, personalties and goals. You want to work with them in coming up with some adjustments to their 90-day plan that fits them best. 

How can you do this? One of the best ways to do so is making use of the entry interview.

With this entry interview, you can gain a much deeper understanding of their personality, strengths and weaknesses and personal goals and adjust the 90-day plan as needed to fit their strengths. 

While there is overlap between the type of interview questions that you'd ask between the entry interview and the job interview, the type of questions and answers you're looking for will be different than the interview process itself. This interview can be conducted by a hiring manager, their new manager, or both.

Through the entry interview, you can have their plan on hand to make adjustments as needed to ensure they get the best 90 day plan possible.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dig further into the 30-day intervals of the 30 60 90 day plan.

Planning out the first month.

3. The First 30 Days

Now let's take a look at what should be included in the roadmap of the first 30 days of a new hire’s role. 

For these first month or so, you want to emphasize the fact that new hires are essentially going to be sponges and will be learning at a rapid rate. This is the period in which you’ll be most hands-on with the new hire to get them adjusted to your organization. 

Going back to the food analogy from the previous section, the first 30 days is going to have the most overlap in what gets covered, regardless of seniority or department.

As a result, this portion will be easiest in regards to creating a template that works.

Here are some things that you will want new hires to cover in those first 30 days:

  • Develop an understanding of your company culture
  • Get clarity on the role and responsibilities
  • Be aware employee policies and expected behaviors
  • Gain an understanding of the technology, software, and tools that your organization uses
  • Learn about your org’s mission, vision, values, products, business model, and customers
  • Gain an understanding of the stakeholders for the organization
  • Gain an understanding of the current projects that the organization is focusing on and what they will be focusing on in their role
  • Have weekly meetings with their manager
  • Get to know their fellow team members and who to go to for what
  • If your organization makes use of a buddy system (and you should), have them meet with their buddy.
  • Draw up some short and long-term goals for the remainder of the plan.

This is the stage of the that focuses on getting up to speed with your organization and what’s expected of them. Remember that this stage in the 90-day plan will see a lot of overlap amongst all new hires.

Let’s make things start to happen in this stage of the 90 day plan.

4. The 30-60 Day Range

Now that new hires have crossed the 30 day threshold, it’s time for them to dip their feet further in the water.

They’ll now have an understanding of the basics and can now delve deeper into their role. 

The knowledge gained from the the first 30 days will now be ramped up and put into action and they can get more involved in projects and start to speak up more with their thoughts and ideas.

The roles and responsibilities that new hires go over when they started? They can now begin to make progress on this front.

The KPIs, goals, and milestones that you set in the previous 30 days? They’ll start making headway on them.

This is the part of the 30 60 90 day plan where each plan begins to diverge depending on the department, individual, or seniority level. 

One thing to emphasize at this stage is to get some small, quick wins for new hires to gain momentum as they continue forward.

At this stage in the 90-day plan, new hires are heavily involved with their team and skillset.

5. The 60-90 Day Range

This is the stage of the 90 day plan where the training wheels begin to come off, or where the new hire now submerges themselves in the pool. 

They continue to make headway through the KPIs, specific goals, and milestones that were created in the first 30 days, and take a greater level of independence. 

As this timeframe has a much greater emphasis on independence, this section of the 90-day plan can be much more open-ended and will depend on the individual themselves, compared to the first 30 days which were far more structured. 

At this stage of the 90-day plan, new hires will be working on projects with less supervision, be more involved with their teams and the organization as a whole, and follow up with their managers to ensure that they are hitting their metrics.

At this point, team members can begin to go to the new hire for their expertise. Maybe they make a new team altogether for a project they're working on. 

To be clear, mistakes being made here are still fine. They are still new to the organization, and they still have many things to learn about the organization. This will come in time.

That said, there needs to be a higher level of accountability compared to earlier in the 90-day plan, which will only continue to grow as time goes on.

6. Beyond 90 Days

So what happens when you get past the 90-day mark? Does everything just drop off and employees are left to their own devices? 

I’ve had this happen before to me. The onboarding experience at that organization was fantastic, but, after that 90-day mark, everything on the onboarding side more or less dropped off.

Granted, the sheer fact that you’re willing to create a 90-day plan will put your employee onboarding experience miles ahead of most other organizations. Most organizations don't even do onboarding beyond the first week.

Studies show that around 72% of new employees will have settled into their new role within 3 months, with 22% by 9 months, and the rest around 10-12 months.

The more that you’re able to provide to new employees when starting, the better they will do. 

One of the best things that your organization can implement after the 90 day period is the stay interview. The stay interview is interviewing employees about what has been working well, and where improvements can be made.

The stay interview is an excellent way to gather improve your 90-day plan template. It’s a great time to ask questions about how well the plan was laid out, how it was executed, and where it can be improved. 

The stay interview can be buttressed by other feedback method such as surveys.

7. Improving your 90-day plan

When it comes to improving your 90-day plan, consider the rule of 5.

The rule of 5 states that when getting insight into research or testing, five users tend to be enough in order to identify patterns and determine what does and doesn’t work. 

If you’re getting patterns already emerging after simply asking five users, you’re going to more or less get the same information if you test more than 5. If no patterns are emerging within five users, then you can test more. 

For example, if your feedback consistently highlights that KPIs and goals needed to be more clear in the 90-day plan, it’s a good idea to hone in on that and find ways to improve it.

8. Summary And Next Steps

We’ve taken a look at the value of the 30 60 90 day plan, what each portion consists of, and what to do after the 90 day period. So what are the next steps that you can do? 

If you don’t have a 90-day plan template in place, start taking steps in drafting one together. This is a large effort, and be sure to have a hiring manager on hand.

Remember, the first 30 days is the portion that you can standardize the most as it will cover aspects that every new hire will go through. The 60 and 90-day ranges can be tuned to focus more on department, seniority, and the individual.

Currently have 90-day plans? Begin to implement stay interviews if you haven’t done so to gain feedback on the 90-day plan and see where you can improve upon it.

If you’re looking for further reading, consider checking out the book The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.

Other useful onboarding resources:

Have any questions or anything to add? Hit me up in the comments or join the conversation over in the People Managing People Community, a supportive community of HR and business leaders sharing knowledge to help build sustainable organizations of the future.