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Just Hired Someone? The First 90 Days Are Crucial


The Saying ‘You Only Get One Shot at a First Impression’ Applies to Onboarding Too.

By Steve Schumacher

I have a friend who was hired at a fairly high level of a company several years ago. He was brought in after a long search by the company and given the proverbial corner office with a lot of fanfare. He is an accomplished professional with a lot of experience and charisma.

We were talking after he had been on the job for about a month and he was telling me how poorly the company had handled his orientation process. He said he went to the lobby of the building every day for two weeks to use the restroom because no one had told him where it was on his floor!

You may not be hiring senior level people, but the guidelines of onboarding and orientation are the same regardless of the position you are filling.

Many surveys say that around 20 percent of employee turnover happens within the first 90 days of employment. When you consider the costs to your company of searching, recruiting and interviewing potential employees, it’s vital that you make those first 90 days successful in creating a highly motivated employee that will stay with your company long-term.

Orienting a new employee to the company and their job is not HR’s responsibility alone. It is up to you and ALL of your employees to make that new person a valued team member right from the start.

Following are some things to consider when you have hired a new employee:

In Advance

  • Prepare a checklist of subjects to review with your new employees, set aside the appropriate amount of time to do it, and let others know that you are not to be interrupted while you are orienting your new workers.
  • Send any HR forms that the employee can fill out at home to them so they don’t get bogged down once they arrive at work.
  • Inform all employees that a new person has been hired and tell them a bit about them. Assign someone to be their mentor over the first 90 days. Pick someone who has a good attitude about the company and is a good communicator.

Day One

  • Review job description and performance standards, expected outcomes, performance measures, etc.
  • Have any additional HR forms ready for them to fill out.
  • Go over all applicable policies and procedures, both for the company and for your specific location.
  • See that they are personally introduced to other employees.
  • Review all safety issues and procedures.
  • Take the new employee out to lunch the first day along with several co-workers.
  • Give them something with the company logo on it. A hat, shirt, backpack, etc.

One of my colleagues had spent several years working for Honda Motor Cars. Every employee, regardless of their position in the company, spent the first hour of employment with their direct supervisor talking about quality of work.

What do we think of with Honda? Quality. You might consider doing the same with safety.

First Week

  • Begin the performance planning process. Go over performance review forms, how goals and objectives are set and reviewed.
  • Meet with the new employee (and possibly their mentor) at the end of each day to review, answer questions.
  • Explain the company’s products and services, customers, clients, Vendors and competitors.
  • Go over the company mission, vision and values. Ensure that the new employee understands their role in accomplishing them. Give them a copy of the organization chart.

First Month

  • Establish performance goals and schedule first performance appraisal meeting.
  • Review current departmental goals (if they exist) for the next 90 days, 6 months and 1 year.
  • Ask them for some feedback on the onboarding process.
  1. Have we met your expectations so far?
  2. How has your training been going?
  3. What could we have done to make you feel more welcome?

90 Days and Beyond

  • Schedule periodic progress reviews. Discuss orientation items; ask for feedback on the process. Allow them to ask any and all questions they may have.
  • Schedule training as necessary.
  • Review performance expectations, department and company goals.
  • Meet regularly with new employees to answer questions and confirm that the new employee is becoming acclimated to the department and position responsibilities.
  • Prepare a checklist of subjects to review with your new employees, set aside the appropriate amount of time to do it, and let others know that you are not to be interrupted while you are orienting your new workers.

Effective employee onboarding has a positive domino effect: it ensures that new hires feel welcome and prepared in their new positions, in turn, giving them the confidence and resources to make an impact within the organization, and ultimately allowing the company to continue carrying out its mission.

Do you have a management challenge at your operation? Email your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..