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Employee Engagement

33 Quick wins to improve employee retention during the first 90 days

The first 90 days of employment are critical for both the employee and employer. Your new hires want to prove themselves and make a good impression. At the same time, as an employer or manager, you want to get your new employees up to speed quickly and help them feel secure in their role and place in the company.

There’s also the added challenge of onboarding employees in a remote or hybrid work environment. Remote employees often feel less connected, lonely, and isolated than their onsite counterparts. Additionally, our research shows that nearly 3 in 5 employees would consider leaving their job if they didn’t feel connected at work. 

Knowing this, your employee onboarding program or strategy can be a make-or-break factor for employee retention. Around 40% of employee turnover occurs within the employee’s first year with the organization, and it can cost one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary to replace them.

But studies show that an effective onboarding program can increase retention rates by 50% among new recruits and productivity by 62%. Plus, employees who have a positive onboarding experience are almost three times as likely to feel prepared and supported in their role, boosting their confidence and work performance. 

We teamed up with experts from Sapling and the Museum of Ice Cream to discuss how to improve retention in the first 90 days of employment with effective onboarding.


To set your new hires up for success, we recommend following these four key employee onboarding strategies:

Strategy #1: Create a warm welcome for your new employee

Don’t wait until your employee’s first day to start onboarding. You can begin as soon as your new hire signs their offer letter. Use the time between the offer letter and the first day of work to make your employee feel welcome and reaffirm their decision to work with your organization.

When the offer is accepted:

1. Have a celebration call from the interview panel and leadership team with the new hire when they have accepted the position.

2. Send a welcome gift box to the new hire’s house before the first day of their job. Or, consider sending a Blueboard onboarding gift! A gift makes a wonderful first impression and—if it’s a Blueboard experience—you’ll give your new employee the opportunity to try something new, relax, and indulge before transitioning into their new role. Sharing their onboarding experience could also help the new hire bond with their teammates.

3. Email a “what to expect” note 48 hours ahead of their first day. This is a great time to communicate structure and confidence, clarify what they’ll need for their first day, and share any other crucial last-minute information.

On their first day:

4. Have a designated person greet your new hire either in-person at your reception desk or virtually via a video call or Slack message. 

5. If they’ll be working onsite, decorate the new hire’s desk, and have everyone in the office or their surrounding team write a welcome note.

6. Make your new employee feel a part of the team with company swag (e.g., t-shirts, stickers, pop sockets, etc.).

7. Make sure they have access to necessary tools and technology to show that you’re prepared for them to be there.

8. Create an agenda for the first week with key meetings, training, and calendar invites.

After the first 30 days of employment:

9. Send your new hire a survey about their 30-day onboarding process, so you can further learn from their experience. Even if you don’t currently have a designated onboarding program, a survey will help you see what worked well and what needs improvement—which can help you build a more formalized process. 

You can see what questions we serve new employees in our own Blueboard 30-day onboarding survey here on the live form.

Strategy #2: Improve employee retention by encouraging meaningful connections and relationships

Building workplace connections should start as soon as a new employee accepts their employment offer. But your organization needs to continue to support employees in creating these connections throughout their tenure at your company.

When the offer is accepted:

10. Send on-demand content connecting the new hire to your company’s culture, mission, and core company values.

In the first week:

11. Build connections with the new hire and the employees around them with a buddy system.

12. Plan 1:1s with both immediate and cross-functional teammates to create relationships early.

13. Connect the new hire with employee resource groups, affinity groups, and other clubs.

14. Train your new hire on how your company communicates via Slack, email, etc. This is especially valuable for your remote employees.

During the first 30 days of employment:

15. Encourage new employees to attend company events and gatherings.

16. Make time for non-work conversation and small talk during 1:1s and team meetings. This can lay the groundwork for deeper conversations and connections later.

17. Use apps like Donut to connect new hires to employees outside their departments.

Get our free ebook with even more employee retention strategies.

EXPLORE OUR PLATFORMGet Ebook

Strategy #3: Emphasize role clarity in the first 90 days of employment

Those early days in a new role can be pretty overwhelming. Your employees will be taking in a lot of information, but you can help make this process as smooth and seamless as possible by providing clear instructions and supports. 

In the first week:

18. Establish and clarify what success looks like at the company level, team level, and within their individual role.

19. Identify the objectives and goals of your new hire’s core team.

20. Create a mutual agreement around 30-, 60-, and 90- day goals for the new employee.

21. Create relevant training and shadowing opportunities for your new hire.

During the first 30 days of employment:

22. Strengthen the new hire’s understanding of cross-functional overlap and relationships with connected teammates.

23. Showcase the progress towards 30- and 60-day milestones with the help of projects, initiatives, and training.

24. Facilitate ongoing candid feedback sessions between the new hire and their manager. 

Strategy #4: Celebrate your new employee's early wins

It’s essential that your new hires feel productive and can see that they’re making an impact. From reflections in 1:1s with their direct manager, to public shout-outs, to looping them into integrated projects, highlighting your new employee’s successes is a powerful strategy for employee retention.

During the first 30 days of employment:

25. Create accountability and continued conversations around the 30-, 60-, and 90- day onboarding plan and milestones.

26. Complete the new hire’s first major project initiative at the 30-day mark. Have the leadership team and coworkers review the new hire’s project results and share open feedback on their performance.

27. Encourage new hires to share their perspectives during meetings. ​​Invite them to share processes or strategies that worked in their previous roles.

During the first 60 days of employment:

28. Create moments for your team to acknowledge and appreciate your new hire, such as through public shoutouts on Slack or at your company all-hands meetings. Or through personalized notes or emails.

29. Recognize and reward the new hire for their accomplished 60-day milestones

30. Recognize new employees on social media and encourage your colleagues to share positive comments.

During the first 90 days of employment:

31. Recognize and reward the new hire for their accomplished 90-day milestones.

32. Distribute employee referral incentives to the referee at the 90-day mark.

33. Reflect on their progress and performance and explore goals and objectives for the rest of the year.

Improving employee retention with Blueboard

The first 90 days of employment are a critical part of every employee's journey. Take the time to reflect on your current onboarding and employee retention strategy. Ask: What are we doing well? Which areas need more work? Are we doing everything in our power to make employees feel welcome and integrated?

If you're looking for ways to enhance your organization's onboarding experience, consider onboarding gifts from Blueboard. A personalized experiential onboarding gift is a fun and scalable way to welcome new hires and build employee connections from day one.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in April of 2019. It has been updated to reflect current data and trends.

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