Creating an effective 30-60-90 day plan for new hires

Jessica Heijmans
June 24, 2024
min read
Table of Contents
Ever started a new job and felt a mix of excitement and a bit of overwhelm? Meeting new colleagues, understanding a new culture, juggling new responsibilities, and learning work procedures can be a lot to handle all at once! So, how can companies help new hires navigate this transition smoothly? Enter the 30-60-90 day plan—a structured onboarding approach designed to set clear expectations and ensure new employees integrate well into the company culture while becoming productive team members.

In this blog, we'll dive into what a 30-60-90 day plan is, why it's essential, how to create one, and even provide you with a downloadable template to get started. Ready to improve your onboarding process? Let's get started!

What is a 30-60-90 day plan?

A 30-60-90 day plan maps out the first three months for a new employee. It lays out clear goals and objectives, breaking down their onboarding into manageable phases. This plan gives them direction and structure, making sure they can settle in smoothly and feel confident in their role. It simplifies what they should focus on and achieve during this crucial time.

The different phases

The 30-60-90 day plan is typically divided into three phases, each crucial for a new employee’s journey: the first 30 days, days 31-60, and days 61-90. These phases outline specific goals and tasks aimed at helping new hires adapt to their role, integrate into their team, and understand the company culture.

During each phase, new employees focus on different aspects of their onboarding experience:

  • 1-30 days: "Introduction & orientation" focuses on learning company culture, policies, meeting team members, and understanding role expectations.
  • 31-60 days: "Applying knowledge" involves applying learning, taking on responsibilities, and exploring ways to make an impact.
  • 61-90 days: "Taking initiative" sees new hires gaining confidence, working independently, exploring long-term goals, and making a mark, possibly challenging the status quo.

Don’t forget about preboarding: a -30-30-60-90 day plan

At Appical, we believe in starting the onboarding process before day one, which we call the preboarding phase. It's about preparing new hires for their roles and integrating them into our company culture from the outset.

 That’s why our template includes a section for -30 days, focusing on preparing the new hire:

  • -30-0 days: "Preparation." This phase focuses on getting the new hire ready before their first day, ensuring they start off on the right foot, feel confident, and stay engaged from the beginning.

While we refer to it as a "30-60-90 day plan" for simplicity, we also emphasize the importance of the preboarding phase in preparing new hires for success.

Note: the 90-day mark is flexible and can vary based on industry, company, team dynamics, and specific job requirements. Customize the timeline to suit your organization's unique needs and the individual needs of your new hires.

Create your own 30-60-90 day plan with our e-book + template

In this blog, you'll find a wealth of valuable information to kickstart your own 30-60-90 day plan. However, if you're seeking additional structure, more examples, and a customizable template, consider downloading our e-book.

Download now

The benefits of a 30-60-90 day plan

Implementing a structured onboarding process is crucial—it lays the groundwork for new hires' success within your organization. It can truly make or break their experience at your company.

Here are a few benefits of having a 30-60-90 day plan:

  1. Consistent & structured onboarding:  Using a 30-60-90 day plan ensures that every new hire starts with a shared foundation of information and expectations. It saves time for managers and HR by avoiding starting from scratch with each new employee.
  2. Clear goals and expectations: By outlining specific goals for each phase of onboarding, the plan helps new hires understand what's expected and the steps needed to succeed. Did you know that employees who clearly understand their role report higher effectiveness, productivity, and intention to stay (Effectory)?
  3. Accelerated learning and integration: Breaking the onboarding process into manageable phases allows new hires to focus on specific learning objectives and tasks, speeding up their learning curve and integration into the team.
  4. Avoid overwhelming new hires: The phased approach of the 30-60-90 day plan prevents new hires from feeling overloaded by spreading out information, introductions, and training sessions. 
  5. Boosted confidence and engagement: With clear goals and milestones, new hires gain confidence in their abilities and become more engaged in their roles. This leads to greater motivation and active participation during their onboarding journey.

In a nutshell, a 30-60-90 day plan is a vital tool for successfully onboarding new hires. It provides consistency, clear expectations, accelerated learning, and enhanced confidence—all of which contribute to better retention, increased productivity, and a positive company culture. 

[.callout-small]You will find out all the important onboarding statistics in our e-book.[.callout-small]

Who’s responsible for creating the 30-60-90 day plan

HR, the manager, or the new hire?

Well, it's a team effort! Crafting the onboarding plan involves both HR and managers working together. HR kicks things off by laying down the foundational steps (Steps 1-4 in our plan) to ensure consistency and efficiency for all new hires. This way, everyone gets the essential knowledge they need right from the start, making the onboarding process smoother and saving time.

After that, managers step in to personalize the plan. They tweak and add goals and tasks to fit each team member's unique role and needs, creating a welcoming and inclusive environment from day one. And it doesn't stop there—new hires are encouraged to give feedback to help fine-tune their onboarding experience even more.

[.callout-small]Read: The Ultimate manager’s guide to onboarding [.callout-small]

What should a 30-60-90 day plan include?

To set up new hires for success, it's important that a 30-60-90 day plan includes the following:

Essential components:

  • Clear goals: Specific objectives outlining what the new hire should achieve in each phase.
  • Actionable items: Concrete tasks and steps to help the new hire reach their goals.

Preferably also include:

  • Your company's mission: Ensure that the goals and tasks align with the company's mission and objectives.
  • Links to supporting resources: Provide access to materials, documents, and tools that support the new hire in their role.
  • Detailed first-week schedule: Outline activities, meetings, and training sessions to orient the new hires in their initial days.
  • Space for ongoing feedback: Incorporate a mechanism to gather input and adjust the plan to ensure the new hire's satisfaction and success.

How to write a 30-60-90 day plan in 7 steps 

Typically, you'll start drafting your 30-60-90 day plan before the new hire's first day—ideally, even before the hiring process begins. This proactive approach ensures a seamless transition and sets clear expectations from the outset.

[.callout-small]Download Appical’s 30-60-90 day plan guide + template here.[.callout-small]

The first 4 steps can be handled by HR at any time of the year.  Here’s how to get started:

Step 1. Set company-wide onboarding goals for your new hires 

What do you want your new hires to achieve in their first 90 days? Let's kick off by defining the company-wide goals for this period. Focus on learning, performance, and social goals:

  • Learning Goals: Identify the knowledge and skills new hires need to succeed and determine the best ways to help them learn effectively.
  • Performance Goals: Outline concrete tasks and achievements new hires should aim to complete within specific timeframes to succeed in their roles.
  • Social Goals: Help new hires build relationships and fit into the team by introducing them to key colleagues and involving them in activities that reflect your company culture.

[.callout-small] For lots of examples of goals, download our 30-60-90 day plan e-book.[.callout-small]

Step 2. Divide the goals into -30-30-60-90 day phases

It's time to divide these goals into the -30-30-60-90 day phases to create a clear roadmap for our new hire. This way, they'll have a clear understanding of what they need to focus on during each stage of their onboarding journey.

Here’s how we can structure it:

  • Preparation (-30 days)
  • Introduction (1-30 days)
  • Applying knowledge (31-60 days)
  • Taking initiative (61-90 days)

To keep things manageable and avoid overwhelming our new hires, we’ll set 3-5 goals for each phase. This way, they can focus on what matters most as they settle in and grow with us.

Step 3. Link action items to the goals

Let's make these goals actionable by connecting specific tasks to each one. For instance, you’ve chosen this goal for your new hires:

Goal 1) Get to know your team by setting up 3 one-on-one meetings in the first 14 days to understand your colleagues’ roles and responsibilities

Here are some action items you could connect to achieve this:

Action items:

  • Request & plan meetings with [names team members] to discuss their roles, responsibilities, and expertise.
  • Prepare questions in advance to gain deeper insights into their areas of work.
  • Take notes during the meetings and seek opportunities for collaboration or mentorship.

Apply the same approach to your other goals as you move forward.

Step 4 Organize your goals and action items 

Now, let’s organize your goals and action items into an easy-to-track format. You can choose from various tools such as an onboarding platform, a template in Word, Google Docs, or Excel, or a project management tool like Asana. Consider which option best suits your company's needs and workflow.

Once you've selected your preferred tool, integrate your goals and action items into it. This will help you keep track of progress and ensure clarity throughout the onboarding process.

Bonus tip: When creating your action plan, think about the support your new hires might need. Provide links to resources such as the company's story, playbooks, or training materials to help them achieve their goals. Including the company mission can also guide new hires effectively.

The big advantage of using a digital onboarding platform is that it puts all necessary info into a single, easily accessible location. Action items are organized into checklists for each stage and the platform unlocks relevant information and tasks at the right time for both new hires and managers.

The outcome of the first 4 steps

Finishing the first four steps sets up the basics for all new hires. You now have a customizable document or platform for managers to tailor the onboarding experience to individual needs.

Regularly check in to ensure your onboarding plan is effective. Review and update it every few months based on feedback from new hires and managers to keep it responsive and aligned with evolving needs. 

Step 5. Personalize the onboarding plan

Now it’s the manager’s turn to tailor the onboarding plan for their new hire. This means adding specific goals and tasks that are crucial for the new hire’s role or department. It's important to also include helpful resources that will support their success. 

Customize the template with relevant details to make it personal and effective, ensuring the new hire has everything they need to hit the ground running and thrive in their new position.

Bonus tip: Add a detailed schedule for the first week, outlining activities, meetings, and training sessions to orient the new hires during their initial days.

Step 6. Share the plan with your new hire & gather input

During their first week, go over the onboarding plan with your new hire. Take the time to explain each goal and task clearly, and invite them to share any feedback or suggestions they may have. This not only shows that their input is valued and helps them feel included but also provides valuable insights that can refine and enhance the onboarding experience.

Step 7. Review and celebrate the milestones 

Regularly check in on the new hire's progress and take the time to celebrate their achievements. Acknowledge their successes and address any challenges they may be facing to keep them motivated and supported.

Reflect on the onboarding experience together to identify what worked well and areas that can be improved. This ongoing review helps to continuously enhance the onboarding process and ensure that future new hires have an even better experience.

[.callout-small]For more details on each step, download our e-book.[.callout-small]

30-60-90 day plan examples

Now, let's explore some illustrative examples to help you kickstart the goal-setting process. We've outlined a couple of goals for each phase. 

In our 30-60-90 day plan e-book, you'll find a more extensive list for each phase, along with a bonus example schedule for the first week.

Days -30-0: Preparation

Learning goal

Prepare for you first day

Action items:

  • Watch the virtual tour of our office
  • Finish the chapter in the onboarding app that covers office amenities
  • Look over the schedule for the first day (see email from your manager)

Social goal

Engage with your new team members

Action items

  • Join us for our team activity on [date]
  • Participate in the scheduled virtual meet-and-greet session with your new manager
  • Take the "Who's Who?" team quiz

Days 1-30: Introduction & orientation

Learning goal

Familiarize yourself with the tools and technologies used in the marketing team

Action items

  • Participate in a design workshop focused on Canva, led by our designer
  • Plan a one-on-one meeting with our "Asana guru" [name], who can provide in-depth training on using this tool
  • Complete a training session on the company's email marketing platform

Performance goal

Contribute to the creation of engaging and informative content

Action items

  • Read the tone of voice of the company
  • Develop three topics for social media posts that align with the brand's voice and target audience
  • Create a blog post on the selected topic
  • Collaborate with the design team to add visuals 

Days 31-60: Applying knowledge

Learning goal

Deepen your understanding of the product

Action items

  • Attend weekly product presentations given by the product team
  • Spend a day shadowing a colleague who works closely with the products or services

Performance goal

Identify your key tasks and goals for the coming quarter

Action items

  • Work with your manager to identify key tasks and responsibilities you can start taking on
  • Establish performance goals for the next 30 days that align with your new responsibilities

Days 61-90: Taking initiative

Performance goal

Create and manage the content calendar

Action items

  • Create a calendar for LinkedIn posts, outlining topics and posting schedules for the next month.
  • Coordinate with writers, designers, and marketers to ensure timely content delivery
  • Talk to [x amount] of customers to gather content ideas and validate strategies

Social goal

Contribute to our culture of continuous learning and growth

Action items

  • Share your knowledge & insights with colleagues through an internal workshop
  • Actively participate in knowledge-sharing sessions organized by colleagues
  • Offer guidance and support to a junior colleague or new hire

Customizable 30-60-90 day plan template

Still trying to figure out where to start? We've got you covered with our customizable 30-60-90 day plan template. It breaks down each phase of the plan and includes space for feedback, additional resources, and a schedule for the first week. You can choose between an empty template or one already filled in with our examples.

Ready to create your 30-60-90 day plan?

[.callout-small]Download our e-book with template and start planning for your new hires’ success today![.callout-small]

Wrapping up

A well-thought-out 30-60-90 day plan is a fantastic way to onboard new hires, making sure they have a clear roadmap for their first three months. By setting clear goals, providing ongoing support, and celebrating milestones, you can help new employees feel at home and become productive team members quickly. Implementing this plan can significantly boost new hire retention and productivity, which is a win-win for everyone.

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