How To Create A Memorable Employee Experience In The First 90 Days

Matthew Turner
July 3, 2019

A business is only as good as the people behind it. It doesn’t matter how inspiring the founder is, how incredible the product may be, or what processes and systems you have in place. To build a great business, you need a great team.

The team you build and the culture that fuels it is arguably the most important investment you will ever make. The cost of hiring the right people is high, but the cost of losing them is even higher.

This is an issue that’s becoming more of an issue for managers and business owners. A recent study from BambooHR suggests 17% of employees leave inside of three months of them starting (with 30% inside of six months).

It’s easy to place the blame on employees: they’re not good enough, weren't a good fit, and so on...

The truth, however, is that most businesses do not set their new employees up for success. They live by a sink or swim mentality where they either have what it takes or they don’t.

Yet you only get what you put in. As a manager, if you don’t commit to your team, will they ever truly commit to you? If you don’t give them the means to thrive, will they ever do more than survive?

Why You Should Invest In Employee Experience

The rising costs of hiring talent has led to a new focus on Employee Experience.

Having an employee experience strategy in place is one of the best investments you may ever make. By focusing on their first 90 days at your business, you not only help them succeed, but you increase the likelihood that they succeed with you.

The same way customer retention is important to your business’ success, employee retention is a vital element of growth. Whereas failure results in sunk costs: both time and money.

So, if you’re in the middle of hiring new people and building a successful team, take into account an Employee Experience Strategy like the one below that sets you up for long-term success.

Days 1-30: Onboarding

During the first month, there are a few important aspects to focus on:

  1. The company’s mission and values
  2. The employee's mission and values
  3. The extra touches that show you care

During the first thirty days, give them a lot of 1:1 time (either with you or other members of your team). Make their employee experience a personal one. Find ways to make moments stand out: gifts, unexpected gestures, personal touches…

The employee experience at most companies is so underwhelming. This is an opportunity for you to show them that you care, and that they’re joining a unique, caring company. 

Part of this involves getting to know them better, and to learn what they want to get from their role:

  • What their dreams and aspirations are...
  • What their vision for the future is…
  • Where they would like to be in 5 years time…
  • Why they want to join the team, and what unique qualities they will bring to it...

It’s during this stage that you truly learn whether they’re a good fit for your culture. It’s also when you spot potential future opportunities, and ways to get them involved in other aspects of the business.

This is also when you teach them about the company. Not just the technical aspects of their role, but the ‘bigger picture’ values, mission and culture they’re now a part of.

Again, do much of this through a 1:1 setting. Make it personal. Allow them to feel like they’re part of a real team, not just a group of people who show up for work each day. 

In addition to this, set clear goals and expectations for them.

Not just their job role expectations, but what you expect in their day-to-day interactions so they become a valued member of the company culture. Be clear about this. Have your standards become their standards. 

The first thirty days is all about aligning their purpose with the company’s. The sooner this happens, the sooner you can develop an A-Player who will become a long-standing member of the team.

Days 31-60: Develop Ownership

The next phase of your employee experience strategy should focus on your new hire owning their role.

At this stage, they should know what to do and how to do it. They may not know their role inside-and-out, but they appreciate what’s expected from them in the day-to-day.

The time has now come for them to not just follow your lead, but to do the actual work.

  • Experiment with their role, and find a process that works for them.
  • Create, generate and share new ideas with you and the team.
  • Do the work and put what they have learned to the test.

To an extent, you may need to encourage mistakes at this stage. Make sure they feel comfortable in making them, as often this is the only way to truly learn. Until now, you’ve shadowed them and shown them how to do everything. But this cannot last forever.

If it does, you end up micromanaging them. Which defeats the purpose of hiring them in the first place.

It’s time for them to OWN their role. It’s not to say there shouldn’t be any 1-1 interaction during this stage, but more group interactions should take its place.

This is when they become part of the team, which is an important period because it’s when you can evaluate whether they’re the right fit for the culture.

Once left on their own, do they thrive or struggle to survive? As they become part of the team, do they help or hinder it?

This is when your employee experience strategy passes over to them. Your role as a manager isn’t to hold their hand forever, merely to set them up for success. At some stage they need to take this and run with it, and it’s during this thirty-day period it happens.

Days 61-90: Progress

The final phase of your employee experience strategy focuses on the question: are they a good fit?

By now they shouldn’t just do the work, but do so at a high-standard. You should see their own values and traits shine through, as they become more familiar with their role, surroundings and the team. 

Are they a good fit for the culture you’re building, or will they struggle to be part of it? Will they bring long-term value to your organization, or hold it back?

By laying the foundations during the first thirty days, there’s a greater chance that they are a good fit. Their values align with the company's, and you've not only created many personal touches to show that you care, but empowered them to take ownership and put their best foot forward. During this thirty-day period, you earn each other’s trust.

A huge part of any employee experience requires trust from both sides. You need to trust them to commit to their role, and they must trust you to lead them and be there for them. If trust isn’t developed at this stage, ask yourself why.

Is it because they aren’t a good fit for the role, or is it something you could differently?

Either way, your role as their manager is to grab more 1-1 time with them, because it’s time the both of you review their employee experience so far.

  • What’s working?
  • What isn’t working?
  • What do they enjoy the most?
  • What do they struggle with?
  • What ideas do they have?

If they’re a good fit for your culture, this is the time to encourage growth. There may be future new roles they can fill, or maybe a better fit elsewhere in the business. 

As Ray Dalio focuses on in his book, Principles, what matters most is WHO is behind the role rather than WHAT the role is. The short term goal may be to fill a particular role, but the long term goal is to hire an A-Player who remains with your business for years to come.

It’s Time to Build Your Own Employee Experience Strategy

The specifics that go inside your employee experience strategy depend on you and your business. These three phases act as a guide to set your new hire up for success. So many companies spend a lot of time and money finding someone, only to throw them in at the deep end to see if they sink or swim.

The approach discussed in this article questions that entire ethos. You get what you put in. With an employee experience like the one above, you're sure to stand out.

It helps you not only find the right people for your business and culture, but gives your new hire purpose and meaning. If you want them to see their job as more than just a job, you need to make them feel like they’re part of something much bigger.

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