An effective onboarding experience is crucial to getting your new hire’s tenure with your company started on the right foot.

The key to getting your new employee onboarding experience off to the right foot?

A solid plan of attack.

Unfortunately, this is one area where teams continue to struggle. In fact, a recent study by Talentech found that 64% of new hires have no pre-boarding experiences at all — leaving them unsure of how to even begin learning about their new position.

(Which, of course, doesn’t bode well for their future with the company — nor for the company as a business.)

No matter how knowledgeable or talented your new hires are, they need to know from the start:

  • What their onboarding experience will look like with your company
  • What they’ll learn throughout this experience
  • What they should be able to do as they become fully onboarded within your organization


Here’s where a 30-60-90 Day plan comes in.

What is a 30-60-90 Day Plan?

A 30-60-90 day plan defines the main goals and tasks a new hire will have in front of them during their first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job.

The ultimate goal is to ensure new hires can do, have done, or know how to do everything they’ll be responsible for in their new position. As we’ll discuss, creating these plans is a collaborative effort involving a number of internal stakeholders.

For the most part, the actual document is a checklist to help employees stay on track throughout the onboarding experience.

However, you can also include further guidance and links to additional resources within your plans as necessary.

Note that the “30-60-90 Day” approach to planning can be used in various other scenarios, such as when creating individual employee training plans or making changes to your internal processes. For our current purposes, we’ll be focusing on 30-60-90 day employee onboarding plans.

Also, note that the main focus of these plans is specifically to prepare the employee for their new role within the company. Yes, their own professional development plays a part in this planning — but only so far as it enables the individual to do their current job as best as possible.

(That said, an individual may create a separate plan focusing on their own professional growth within the organization and their overall career — but this will be in addition to the core plan they create internally with your team.)

Why are 30-60-90 Day Plans Important?

At first glance, going through the trouble of creating a 30-60-90 day plan might seem like overkill.

(As we said, most teams simply want to get their new hires up and running as quickly as possible — even if it means skipping out on part of the onboarding process.)

But, as the old adage goes: Failing to plan is planning to fail.

While it’s pretty obvious that creating a 30-60-90 day plan with your new hires is better than not doing so, let’s take a closer look at the specific benefits it can bring to the table.

Set Clear Goals and Expectations for All Stakeholders

Yes, we said all stakeholders.

But first, know that a 30-60-90 day onboarding plan makes new employees’ responsibilities crystal clear from their initial moments on the job. As we’ll discuss, the plan will also provide guidance to new employees on their way to achieving these goals.

With a clear plan in place, managers will have a better idea of how they can help new hires along their onboarding path — and can better anticipate spots where individual employees may face the most trouble. This can potentially lead you to make larger, more permanent improvements to your onboarding processes over time.

Overall, 30-60-90 plans serve to get both new hires and managers on the same page from the onset. In a world where remote and hybrid work is the norm, this is all but vital to the success of your business.

Strengthen Employee Autonomy

On top of making your employee’s high-level onboarding goals known, a 30-60-90 day plan provides the details of what they need to do to get there.

The plan will provide actionable prompts for new hires to follow during each onboarding phase — even when not directly instructed to do so by their supervisor. With this guidance in hand, new employees will almost always know how they can make progress in some area of their onboarding.

(And, in cases where they do need more assistance in a certain area, they can tackle some of the other tasks on their onboarding checklist in the meantime.)

On the whole, this empowers your employees to make decisions and take actions based on their knowledge and expertise — and to not waste time waiting for explicit instructions from above. They’ll also be empowered to know when they do need help — and where to go within the company to get it.

Ensure Purposeful Employee Onboarding

A 30-60-90 day onboarding plan aims to hammer out everything a new hire needs to know or do to get started.

And, it lays out exactly how each part of the process connects to one another — forming a more comprehensive and cohesive onboarding experience for every new hire you bring on.

In short, a 30-60-90 day plan illustrates:

  • What a new hire needs to do throughout onboarding
  • Why doing these things is important


In a practical sense, new hires will better understand how they’ll be applying what they learn during onboarding while on the job. They’ll also better understand the impact their individual efforts have on the organization’s success as a whole.

At a time when professional and personal purpose is top-of-mind for many employees, this can be exactly what’s needed to keep your best new hires engaged and prospering with your company.

Make Onboarding Manageable

Creating a 30-60-90 day plan with your new hires will keep things manageable for all parties throughout the onboarding process.

On the employee’s end, they’ll be able to take a more structured and purposeful approach to the tasks in front of them. As we’ll discuss, the plan will have them prioritizing tasks based on importance and impact — as well as the individual employee’s current skills and knowledge.

(This, in contrast to being thrown a barrage of semi-related tasks to complete in no particular order — which unfortunately isn’t all that uncommon for new employees to experience.)

In a broader sense, a 30-60-90 day plan breaks onboarding up into three distinct phases (which we’ll discuss momentarily). This means they’ll spend less time shifting gears throughout onboarding, and more time focused deeply on the most important parts of the process.

Supervisors will also be better able to manage the onboarding process both during planning and in real-time. With a structured plan in place, they can again anticipate their employees’ needs at every major phase and individual touchpoint — and further enable them at every step.

(Conversely, failing to anticipate your new hires’ needs during onboarding will lead to major blockers whenever they face even the slightest bump in the road.)

Collect Targeted Feedback from New Hires

Creating a more structured and manageable onboarding process will enable your employees to provide more targeted, valuable feedback about their experiences.

Overall, it will be easier to distinguish events and experiences from one another — as opposed to grouping the entire experience into one singular event. In turn, your new hires will be able to identify specific parts of each experience worth discussing in greater detail (for better or worse).

Your new hires will be more equipped to provide constructive feedback throughout the onboarding experience, as well. Since they’ll be more in control of the situation — and less overwhelmed — they’ll have the time and energy needed to reflect in an open and honest manner.

Check out how Epic Engineering saved new employees forty hours of onboarding responsibilities with Helpjuice.

Key Elements of a 30-60-90 Day Plan

A formalized 30-60-90 day onboarding plan typically touches on four key elements of the onboarding process:

  • Focus
  • Priorities
  • Goals and Metrics
  • Resources


Let’s now discuss how to ensure your onboarding plans include each of these elements.

Focus

Firstly, your plan should have different focal points during each 30-day chunk, or phase:

  • Phase 1 (Day 1-30) focuses on teaching new hires about their new position, about how the team operates, and about the company’s vision and goals.
  • Phase 2 (Day 31-60) is when new hires start to contribute to the team and begin taking a more active role in overall operations.
  • Phase 3 (Day 61-90) has new hires becoming fully autonomous in their role, and taking a more proactive approach to their professional development.


While these phases will likely overlap when put into practice, this sequential focus on learning, acting, and growing makes for a more intuitive and impactful onboarding experience for all new employees.

Priorities

Priorities are the high-level things your new hire will need to do or accomplish at each phase to be considered “fully” onboarded.

These priorities tie directly to each phase’s overarching focus, getting more specific to the position in question.

For example, a customer service rep’s priorities may include:

Phase 1:

  • Learn about the target audience’s needs and personas
  • Learn about the team’s intake, escalation, and closing processes
  • Learn about company policies and their administrative responsibilities


Phase 2:

  • Work with a mentor to optimize their service workflow
  • Complete a simulated customer service instance
  • Handle their first real-world service ticket


Phase 3:

  • Complete a service ticket without assistance or guidance
  • Complete a self-assessment of their knowledge, skills, and performance
  • Develop a professional development plan — and put it into action

Goals and Metrics

For each priority, your 30-60-90 day plan will then include a set of specific goals and accompanying metrics of success.

It boils down to this:

  • Priorities are “what needs to happen”
  • Goals are “how to do it”
  • Metrics are “how you know it’s been done”


So, you’ll have multiple goals for most of your priorities — with singular success metrics attached to each goal as appropriate.

Note that metrics can refer to specific performance measurements, or to things your new hire should know or know how to do.

For example, part of our hypothetical service rep’s plan might appear as follows:

  • Focus: Execution
  • Priority: Complete a simulated customer service instance
  • Goal and Metric 1:
    • Goal
    • Metric:
  • Goal and Metric 2
    • Goal:
    • Metric:

Resources

In this optional section, managers or team leaders can provide additional information and/or point new hires to other resources as needed.

Depending on the situation, these resources may include:

Key Best Practices for Creating Effective 30-60-90 Day Plans

Starting your new hires off with a 30-60-90 plan can effectively enhance their initial experiences with your team.

But only if it’s done strategically.

Here’s how to make it happen.

1. Create 30-60-90 Day Plan Templates

As discussed above, your 30-60-90 day onboarding plan will generally follow this basic structure:

  • Focus/Phase
    • Priority 1
      • Goal 1
        • Metric 1
        • Metric 2
        • Metric 3
      • Goal 2
        • Metric 1
        • Metric 2
        • Metric 3
    • Priority 2
      • Goal 1
        • Metric 1
        • Metric 2
        • Metric 3
      • Goal 2
        • Metric 1
        • Metric 2
        • Metric 3


You can then use this basic structure to create templates for different teams or positions within your organization. Though you’ll eventually tailor these templates to the individual employee, including non-negotiable goals and mandatory tasks within these docs will give you a head start in this planning.

You can, of course, create your own structure for your 30-60-90 day plans to fit your specific needs.

With a standardized planning template in place, you’ll ensure all new hires begin their tenure with a solid foundation upon which they can quickly begin to build.

Develop Plans Collaboratively

…and build on it they shall.

But putting together your new hire’s 30-60-90 day plans should be a collaborative effort across the board.

Really, you can begin by collaborating with your current team members while putting together your planning template. Here, executives and admin teams can identify mandatory goals and tasks — while managers and veteran team members can organize the template for practical purposes.

As for creating individual onboarding plans, this process should involve the new hire, their supervisor, and anyone who may be acting as a mentor or guide for the newbie.

  • New hires can provide information on their knowledge, skills, and abilities — along with their potential needs during onboarding. They can also ask for clarification during this planning phase to ensure they start and stay on the right track.
  • Supervisors will define the new hire’s overarching goals and specific performance indicators, based on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses — and on the standards set by the company. They’ll also ensure new hires understand the plan in full before proceeding with onboarding.
  • Mentors or veteran employees can provide insight into what’s needed during onboard — and how to deliver it. Similarly, they can use their past experiences to identify potential issues in current planning efforts and provide guidance to new hires as needed.


This is all key to developing the comprehensive and cohesive plan needed to allow new hires to navigate the onboarding process autonomously and safely.

Set SMART Goals for Your Plans

When creating a 30-60-90 plan with a new hire, the goals you set for them should follow the SMART framework:

  • Specific to the position, and based on the individual’s knowledge and skills
  • Measureable, objectively as compared to your team’s standard benchmarks
  • Attainable, again based on the employee’s abilities and other situational factors
  • Relevant to their actual position and professional development
  • Time-Based — inherent to the 30-60-90 day approach


Some examples:

To be sure, this requires a more intensive, granular approach to your planning efforts — but it’s again an essential part of setting your new hires up for true success.

Make Ongoing Performance- and Feedback-Based Adjustments

Ideally, your 30-60-90 day onboarding plans will go exactly as planned with every employee you bring on.

Realistically, though, you’ll likely need to make adjustments to your new hires’ plans as they continue with their onboarding journey.

The high-level advice here is to ditch the “set it and forget it” approach to employee onboarding altogether. Yes, you’ll have set them up to be more autonomous throughout the process — but you should always be prepared to lend a hand to your new hires whenever necessary.

In extreme cases, you may need to intervene completely and have your new hire change course during their onboarding journey. For example, if they fall short of a given performance standard — or if it’s clear that they need more practice in a given area — you might have them revisit a training session or activity before moving on.

(And, you’d want to hold off on more advanced instruction for the time being. In most cases, plowing through would just lead to more frustration and failure for all involved parties.)

Making these adjustments in real-time requires a proactive approach at times, and a responsive approach at others. It’s your job as a supervisor to anticipate your new hire’s needs and capabilities before they reach a trouble spot. And, you need to be able to identify when things are going south — even if your employee doesn’t necessarily recognize the problem.

As we’ve touched on, your new hires should also feel empowered to make real-time adjustments to certain processes when appropriate — or to reach out for further guidance when needed.

Leverage Your Knowledge Base

Your internal knowledge base should play an integral role in each phase of your 30-60-90 day onboarding plans.

During the initial onboarding phase, new hires can use it to learn more about the company, their position, and what it means to be a member of the team. They can also dig into more practical documentation, such as relevant standard operating procedures, team directories, and emergency protocol as they complete different onboarding tasks.

During Phase 2, new hires can revisit SOP documentation to solidify their understanding of routine processes — and their ability to navigate them. Once they’ve built this solid foundation, new hires can use the knowledge base to learn about advanced best practices, and to get expert advice from their veteran colleagues on demand.

Finally, your new employees can actually begin adding to your internal knowledge base during the third onboarding phase. While their input will likely be very surface-level for the time being, they should get used to regularly contributing to your organization’s collective knowledge simply as soon as they’re ready.

Use Helpjuice to Supercharge Your 30-60-90 Day Plans

As crucial as your knowledge base is to your 30-60-90 day onboarding plans, you need to have the right software behind it to make it work for your team.

That is, you need a knowledge base software that allows you to:

  • Create and deliver structured, multimedia-rich knowledge content
  • Develop and improve knowledge documentation collaboratively
  • Publish multiple versions of knowledge content for various onboarding purposes


(You also need to be sure your team’s knowledge content remains safe and secure throughout onboarding — and that any changes made are made with your permission.)

In short, you need Helpjuice.

Want to learn more? Try a free 14-day demo of our software today!