Bolstering the company ranks with top talent is challenging, even for the best recruiters. 

Knowing how and where to source the best candidates is one thing but once you’ve made the hire, you also need your new recruits to hit the ground running. When each new hire can cost on average $4,700, it’s important to make each hire count.

Whether or not you land the perfect candidate for every vacant role in your company is somewhat out of your hands due to factors such as availability, budget, and job specifics. Yet there’s one part of recruitment you have full control over: the onboarding and training processes to get new employees up to speed.

Having a robust plan of action for new recruits is critical if you want to see a fast ROI. This is even more important for large companies and enterprises, who may need to cast a wide net and make a batch of hires in one go.

What is the best way to onboard a new hire? Whether you’re a startup or enterprise, there’s a simple way to clearly lay down your expectations and kick-start momentum for new hires. 

It’s called the 30-60-90 day plan and it contains everything new hires need to thrive in their first few months on the job.

What is a 30-60-90 day plan?

As you might imagine, the 30-60-90 day plan lays out what new hires must do in their new role over the course of a month, two months, and three months. 

A blueprint for success of sorts, the 30-60-90 day plan can be put in place to guide new employees through what can sometimes be an uncertain time as they navigate the challenges of their new job. 

Ideally, this plan will factor in both expected performance from the company’s end while also mapping out a comprehensive learning plan for new recruits. That way, they can quickly assimilate with the company culture, get to grips with the core values and ways of working, and learn on the job.

A typical 30-60-90 day plan would be structured like this:

  • First 30 days: The first part of the plan should clearly outline what is expected of a new hire within their first month. This is arguably the most important section, since the first month sets the tone for new hires and is an excellent opportunity to iron out any confusion about roles and responsibilities upfront.
  • Days 31-60: Once the new hire is familiar with company practices, values, and product specifics, it makes sense to follow up with some problem-solving exercises that require critical thinking. For the next month, you want to take the stabilizers off and allow the new hire to tackle tasks by themselves to build a sense of autonomy and confidence.
  • Days 61-90: In the last section of the plan, the goal is to make sure the new hire is fully assimilated with company culture and aware of how they can excel in their role. Explore performance goals and how they’re measured, and outline what opportunities the new hire has to grow professionally and develop their skills.

Generally, there are two main use cases for the 30-60-90 day plan:

1. The hopeful job applicant seeking to impress their interviewer

To gain the edge in a job interview, it isn’t uncommon for candidates to come prepared with their own sketched-out 30-60-90 day plan. From the candidate’s perspective, this plan would detail how they intend to make an instant impact in the role.

2. The company recruitment department streamlining their onboarding process 

For companies, providing a 30-60-90 day plan to new hires is like rolling out the red carpet and ensuring the onboarding process runs without a hitch. It’s a convenient training package that contains more or less everything the new hires need to know to quickly get comfortable in their role and perform in accordance with company standards from day one.

In this guide, we’ll focus on the latter and show you how you can set up an effective 30-60-90 day plan that acts as a blueprint for future hires.

What are the benefits of a 30-60-90 day plan?

The 30-60-90 day plan should be both beneficial for your company and your new hires. As a best-case scenario, your plan will:

Minimize confusion 

A significant challenge for anyone entering a new role is learning how the company operates and what the key processes are. 

With a 30-60-90 day plan, you can mitigate a lot of the confusion that’s common among new hires as you can provide a clear roadmap for success. A well-designed plan will answer the most common questions a new hire may have, so they don’t need to worry about who to contact or what to do next.

Instill confidence

By removing the confusion associated with starting a new job, you’ll pave the way for new hires to grow confident in their role. Confidence is key for new hires as it allows them to feel settled in a new position and start to develop initiative and integrate well with their team and department.

Build a sense of autonomy

Over time, confidence can feed into new hires’ sense of autonomy. While autonomy isn’t essential for every role in a company, it’s important for empowering employees to problem-solve by themselves and seek out innovative solutions.

Establish performance expectations

A good 30-60-90 day plan will leave no doubt in the new hires’ minds as to what is expected of them. Without a plan, standards can slip as new hires get comfortable in their roles. 

To avoid this, be upfront about performance expectations in the plan so everyone knows what they need to do to meet company standards.

Allow you to review your onboarding process

After onboarding several rounds of new hires with your 30-60-90 day plan, you’ll be able to build a clear idea of how effective your onboarding process is. By the end of it, you can ask new hires how comfortable they feel in their role and identify opportunities for refining the process. 

You can also measure the impact the plan has on new hires, contrasting the productivity data with existing benchmarks.

What should new hires accomplish in their first 90 days?

When you sit down to write out your 30-60-90 day plan for new hires, it’s important to factor in your company’s strategic goals as well as performance expectations for the department or team they’ll be joining.

With this information, you can set ambitious yet achievable goals that will point new hires in the right direction and give them a clear idea of what your performance expectations are. 

One way to establish trackable and realistic goals is to use the SMART goal-setting framework, which we’ll cover in detail later.

So, what exactly should you expect from new hires in the first three months? To set goals that make sense for everyone involved, make sure you’re ticking off all the major boxes in your onboarding criteria. 

For example, you want new hires to be familiar with the following five areas in the 30-60-90 day plan:

  • Core company values: One of the main ways to kick-start and maintain employee engagement is to create purpose behind their actions. By educating new hires on the company’s core values, you allow them to connect the actions they take to the results and positive impact of the company.
  • Chain of command: Your plan should communicate the organizational structure of your company clearly, so new hires know exactly who to turn to when they have questions. New hires should understand from day one who they report to and who they work alongside. They should also have contact information for anyone who can help them resolve issues they may encounter.
  • Short- and long-term objectives: As well as setting out what you expect of a new hire week by week in terms of deliverables and output, consider long-term objectives, too. Let new hires know how their actions will help the company meet its strategic goals, so they can feel part of something bigger and see the potential for professional growth and imagine a future with the company.
  • Day-to-day operations: Focusing only on goals will help new hires visualize what progress and performance mean in the company, but won’t necessarily help them navigate their day-to-day responsibilities. Outline what new hires can expect to do from the moment they clock in to the moment they clock out.
  • Workflows and processes: Some companies rely heavily on software solutions to collaborate and communicate, while others still use analog systems. Let new hires know what tools you expect them to become familiar with, as well as the nuts and bolts of how teams work together in your company.

When new hires reach the finish line and complete their first 90 days on the job, it can be valuable to carry out a performance review to assess both how effective the onboarding process is and how ready they are to become a contributing member of the workforce.

The end of the first 90 days also presents a great opportunity to solicit feedback from new hires so you can identify areas for improvement in the plan and streamline the onboarding process going forward.

How to write a 30-60-90 day plan

Even if you understand the logic and theory behind a well-put-together 30-60-90 day plan, it can be challenging to get started. It’s much easier to start writing the plan when you have all the elements mapped out in advance, as then it simply becomes a case of arranging them into place.

1. Start with a strategic overview

Every effective 30-60-90 day plan starts with a strategic overview. 

Imagine you’re about to tackle a puzzle. If you dive straight in and start putting the pieces together, you’re essentially going in blind without clear direction. Instead, if you look at the whole picture first and see what it is you’re working towards, this can inform each step.

As such, before you start putting the various pieces of the plan into place, discuss both macro-level details, such as how new hires will fit into your company culture, and micro-level details, such as what they’ll do on a day-to-day basis in their role.

A plan for a plan, in essence, the strategic overview is your opportunity to make sure you don’t miss anything important when it comes to drafting.

2. Outline performance standards

One of the main goals of a 30-60-90 day plan should be to educate and inform new hires about performance standards and your expectations for productivity. 

Without adding too much pressure to their first few months on the job, make sure you outline minimum and optimal expectations so new hires can adjust accordingly. It could be that this is a new career path for them or that their previous employer had vastly different standards, so use the plan as a way of drawing a line in the sand and creating clarity from day one.

When you outline your expectations, you avoid that awful sense of uncertainty that can cause new hires to constantly second-guess what they’re doing, whether they’re doing enough, and if they’re a good fit for the role.

3. Use SMART goals

One of the best ways to set new hires up for success and boost levels of engagement right out of the gate is to use SMART goals. SMART goals that align with your company’s vision for success give new hires an opportunity to excel in their first few months.

By setting SMART goals, you can break down your strategic long-term goals into concrete deliverables and short-term objectives.

Here’s a brief primer on how to create a SMART goal:

  • Specific: Leave no room for misinterpretation or doubt by being as granular as possible
  • Measurable: Ensure that any goal you create can be tracked with your KPIs
  • Achievable: Encourage ambition but make sure the goals are realistic for new hires
  • Relevant: Create goals that tie in with your larger strategic or departmental goals
  • Time-bound: Provide a timeline or turnaround time for clarity

For example, let’s say you’re hiring a content writer to join the marketing department. Here’s what an appropriate SMART goal might look like:

  • S: Create 12 SEO-driven blog posts per month
  • M: Review blog posts in accordance with metrics such as keyword frequency 
  • A: Consider the output of your current writers and use this to inform performance expectations
  • R: Think how the goal of creating 12 blog posts per week positively impacts the company 
  • T:  Break the goal down into daily and weekly output expectations

With a SMART goal like this, a new writer will immediately understand what’s expected of them and they can work on skills to help them meet it.

4. Compile useful resources

In many cases, especially if you’re hiring knowledge workers, there’ll be more information than you can fit into one plan. To keep the plan concise and avoid overloading new hires with information, it’s worth compiling any useful resources related to the company and role.

With a resource list, you can provide new hires with everything they need to know without overwhelming them in their first few months. Similar to the structure of popular online courses, you could assign certain resources as extra reading for each week of the plan to guide the new hires’ learning at a steady pace.

What kinds of resources should you provide?

  • Video tutorials: From getting set up with a new project management tool to the right way to reference an article, video walkthroughs and tutorials can be an excellent way to plug knowledge gaps for new hires and get them up to speed. They can be educational videos you find online or, better still, internally produced videos from people the new hires might work with.
  • Internal knowledge base or wiki: If you have a lot of department or team-specific information stored in a knowledge base or wiki, you can share access to this for new hires so they can get acquainted with the basics.
  • How-to guides: If there are complicated processes for new hires to navigate, linking to an in-depth how-to guide can be a better solution than attempting to explain them in the 30-60-90 day plan.
  • Company guideline documents: While you can go over the core company values in your plan, you may have your company guidelines and other relevant information stored in other documents, which you can provide alongside the plan.
  • Onboarding documents: If there’s anything the new hires need to know in their first few months, such as useful contact information and login details for software tools, these can be placed in onboarding documents that employees can consult as often as they need to and clear up any doubts.

5. Guide and assess progress 

The 30-60-90 plan should be designed to get new hires up to speed as quickly as possible. While you want to encourage employees to be motivated self-starters, in most cases lending a guiding hand will accelerate the acclimatization process and give them the confidence they need to thrive in the job faster.

Enterprise project management tools can help you keep tabs on progress and check in with new recruits as they work their way through the plan.

By assigning a mentor to new hires, you can ensure they learn the ropes without doubting themselves too much.

Checking in regularly can make new hires feel welcome, and allows you to clear up any doubts they may have during the onboarding process. Any feedback they provide can then be used to inform how you formulate your 30-60-90 plan going forward.

Core elements of a 30-60-90 day plan

Before we give you an example of a 30-60-90 day plan that you can use to create your own, let’s review the core elements every plan must have:

Company values and guidelines

One of the core responsibilities you have when you draw up a 30-60-90 plan should be to outline the company values and guidelines for new hires.

Adapting to a new company culture can be challenging, especially if the new hires are unfamiliar with the company. You can remedy this to a large extent by detailing what it is your company stands for, the core values that drive the workforce, and guidelines for how employees should conduct themselves.

You can supplement any information here with additional documentation about the company in your resource list.

Onboarding information

Of equal importance to a brief on company values should be all the necessary onboarding information new hires need to embed themselves in the company.

In your onboarding section, you can outline the following:

  • Day-one schedule
  • Daily and weekly responsibilities
  • Processes involved with the job
  • Who to report to in various situations
  • Login information for software the company uses

Performance standards

You can use the 30-60-90 day plan as a primer for what’s to come but also to lay down your expectations and set a benchmark for excellent performance.

If new hires know exactly what’s expected of them, it’s easier to integrate into the team and perform at the desired standard from day one. It also provides them with an idea of what they need to do to impress and become a top performer in their role.

SMART goals

Stemming from your performance expectations will be the SMART goals that you create to steer new hires in the right direction. 

The idea behind each SMART goal is to give new hires a concrete idea of what you expect in terms of deliverables and objectives within their first 90 days on the job.

Resource list

Lastly, the resource list should provide new hires with all the additional information they could need to succeed in their role in the opening months and beyond.

Here’s where you’ll add training documents for review, list relevant contact information, and, if applicable, highlight video tutorials and how-tos for new hires to learn the ropes quickly.

30-60-90 day plan example

Creating a 30-60-90 day plan doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler it is, the easier it will be for new hires to digest.

The last thing you want is to subject new hires to information overload and overwhelm them with an intimidating wall of text. 

Instead, break up the plan into several digestible sections and aim for a straightforward structure, as you can see in this example template:

Company values
Begin with a description of what it means to work for your company, along with expectations and core values.
Go over relevant contact information and outline day-one responsibilities so new hires know exactly what to expect on their first day and moving forward.
SMART goals
Draw up a list of three to five realistic SMART goals that you expect new hires to reach within their first 90 days.
Progress (optional)
If you wish to track the progress of your new hires and have the resources to assign a mentor, you can put the mentor’s contact information here and detail how often there’ll be check-ins to monitor progress.
Resource list
Add links to useful video tutorials, documents, and process information so new hires can browse and digest relevant information in their own time.

30-60-90 day plans made easy with Wrike

If you’re interested in setting up 30-60-90 day plans to streamline your onboarding process and help new hires embed within your company culture quickly, Wrike’s task management software can help. From helping you visualize team member progress to storing and categorizing relevant information, Wrike offers various ways to refine recruitment processes.

For instance, you can use Gantt charts to plot out interactive timelines to sync up with the SMART goals you set for new hires. You can also use these charts to review how many tasks and action items new hires complete over the course of 30, 60, and 90 days.

Then, there are project management software features such as Kanban boards, which support easy task management. When adjusting to a new position with new responsibilities, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. By implementing a straightforward Kanban system such as Wrike’s, you can ease the transition into a new role and make managing workloads a breeze.

Wrike’s workflow management software also offers onboarding templates and other business templates you can use to simplify the first few weeks and months of managing new hires. View progress with a table view, use checklists and to-do lists, and set up clear procedures. 

Online time tracking software can help, too, as you can monitor productivity levels in real time and see how the new recruits adjust.


TL;DR? Scan these FAQs for a brief overview of this article.

Q. What should I include in a 30-60-90 day plan?

A. To create an effective 30-60-90 day plan, you should include the following elements:

  •  Company values and performance expectations
  •  A list of SMART goals
  •  Onboarding information
  •  Mentorship or progress information (if applicable)
  •  A comprehensive resource list

Keep your plan as simple as possible so it’s digestible for new hires, and not overwhelming.

Q. How do you put together a 30-60-90 day plan?

A. To put together a 30-60-90 day plan, start out with a general strategic overview. Come together with the recruitment department and detail how new hires will integrate into the company and how their actions in the first 90 days will contribute to the company as a whole.

Next, outline performance expectations and list several SMART goals for new hires to aim for in their first few months in the job.

Finally, consider the resources that can help new hires integrate as quickly as possible and resolve any doubts that arise.

Q. What should be included in a 90-day evaluation?

A. When evaluating the first 90 days for new hires, consider how quickly they’ve adapted to the process and workflows of the company and department. Ask their mentor or peers how they’ve performed and gauge how they’ve integrated in their team.

You can also provide new hires with a basic survey to garner feedback about the 30-60-90 day plan and make changes if necessary going forward.

Ready to create your 30-60-90 day plan with Wrike? Get started with your free two-week trial today.

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