Onboard with Trust: Employee Experience During the First 90 Days

June 2024 | By Gina Siemieniec

EX is the sum total of all interactions employees have with people, processes, technologies, and their physical working environment. Done properly, a mature and effective EX can boost engagement and productivity, as well as cut down on costly attrition. 

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While the employee experience officially begins with hiring, the most critical period is the onboarding process. This initial phase, typically the first 90 days, is when an employee begins to develop their workplace perceptions, expectations, and overall sentiment toward the organization. During this phase, leaders play a crucial role in shaping positive employee experiences that can lead to increased engagement and retention. 

Belonging 

For employees to get the best possible EX, the first 90 days are critical in creating a sense of belonging. Right from the very start of an employee’s journey, leaders need to clearly articulate the organization’s vision and values, and ensure new hires understand how they and their teams contribute to the larger organizational purpose.  

The Leader’s Role: Leaders create a sense of belonging within the first 90 days by role-modelling the ways in which they expect their teams to perform, consistently highlighting the employee’s impact on the team, and making connections to the broader organization visible right away. Be inclusive and seek input from new hires so they feel valued and more connected. 

Environment 

Despite reams of research and data about the importance of onboarding, many organizations still fail to properly prepare new hires for their working environment, especially if it is hybrid, which we address here. Lack of preparation makes them unsure of their place in the organization, which can lead to early attrition. A focused onboarding plan, led by the supervisor, is essential to help new hires learn everything they need about their organization and its EX strategy. 

The Leader’s Role: Leaders must regularly connect with new hires to ask about their onboarding experience, document improvement suggestions, and identify early barriers to remove. Leaders should also ensure new hires have all the necessary support and resources to succeed. 

Relationships 

The quality of our relationships at work largely determines the effectiveness of EX. New hires may not know how best to connect with others on their team, or their managers. Helping new employees make positive and lasting relationships builds a solid foundation for all aspects of EX. 

The Leader’s Role: Proactively introduce new team members to key stakeholders. New hires should also get 1-on-1 time with managers to support the onboarding experience and build a relationship. To deepen relationships and build trust with employees, leaders must always follow through on pledges; don’t say one thing, and then do another. 

Growth 

The opportunity to learn and grow into new roles and responsibilities is one of the most important elements of a mature EX. Providing a broader perspective of how the value chain works can help new hires see their place within it. It can also enable them to connect with other functions or departments where they may identify potential collaborations or future career paths. It is essential that these opportunities be articulated within the first 90 days.  

The Leader’s Role: Use 1-on-1 check-ins to discuss skill development, aspirations, and future career paths. Help new hires recognize connections between their current role and other areas of the organization. Ensure they see the potential growth opportunities within the company so they can envision a long-term career.    

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. That is especially true with EX. Use the first 90 days to set clear expectations, define what success looks like, and ensure new hires understand their role in achieving organizational goals. Show them how their contributions matter and emphasize opportunities for learning, advancement, and personal growth. That will give you the best chance at elevating the employee experience, and, in the process, engaging and retaining your growing team. 

To learn more about how EX is the gateway to better outcomes and performance in today’s organizations, download my colleague Danielle Hochstein’s exclusive whitepaper “Exposed: How Good (or Bad) is Your Employee Experience.” She introduces our EX Leadership ModelSM and explores how the four elements discussed here can generate increased and sustainable success. 

Topics: Behavior, Leadership, Team Culture, Culture, Communicating with Teams, Trust, Onboarding

Gina Siemieniec

Written by Gina Siemieniec