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How to Create an Onboarding Plan Your New Employees Will Love

After multiple interviews and lots of searching, you’ve finally found the perfect person to join your team. They’ve accepted your offer, and you’re ready for them to quickly get up to speed so they can succeed.

But if you don’t have a great onboarding plan in place, you’re setting your new hire up to fail before they’ve even started—and you’ll lose them in the long run. So if you don’t want your new hire to be one of a third of new employees who resign after only six months, you better think long and hard about your onboarding program before you offer them a job.1

Money expert Dave Ramsey explains it this way: “You have a honeymoon phase with a new team member when they are very enthused, excited and energized. Don’t let all the air out of their balloon by not having a fast track in place for them to enter your team.” Let’s look at how to onboard new employees the right way.

4 Onboarding Program Mistakes to Avoid

Some tactics work better than others when it comes to onboarding new employees. Here’s what Armando Lopez, Ramsey Solutions’ executive director of Human Resources, says are the most common mistakes small-business owners make and how to avoid them:

1. Waiting Until Day One to Start Onboarding

Onboarding new team members should start the minute they accept the job—not on their first day of work. “You want people to [stay] as engaged and excited as the moment theysaid yes,” Armando says. One way to do this is to use a call program to stay in touch with new team members in the weeks before they officially start.

2. Not Getting Ready for the New Hire

The biggest mistake employers make is not being prepared for a new hire to join the team. Everything the new person needs to begin work—down to details like pens and notepads—should be ready for them before they walk through the door. You also need to get your team ready to answer any questions and make the new team member feel at home. “If you’re not ready, you’re making a very poor impression,” Armando says.

3. Passing the Welcome Buck

When someone joins your team, their leader needs to welcome them, even if that means working through a tight schedule. Once that’s accomplished, others can take them through their first day. It’s about putting your best foot forward and making a good first impression.

Related article: Leadership Traits and Tips to Help You Become a Successful Leader

4. Not Meeting Their Expectations

Another common mistake usually surfaces a week or two after a new team member starts. If the job is different than what was presented in the interview process, this is the time they realize it. “Don’t sell something and then do the bait and switch,” Armando says. “No one wins when you do that.”

Related article: 5 Employee Retention Strategies Your Business Needs Right Now

The 90-Day Onboarding Plan for New Team Members

So, how do you implement a great onboarding plan and employee orientation program? The following timeline will help get you started.

5 Things to Do Before Employee Orientation and Start Date: (1–2 Weeks Out)

1. Create a KRA.

Create a detailed, written job description before you ever hire a candidate for a position. Ramsey Solutions (Dave’s company) calls this their Key Results Area (KRA). A KRA clearly defines what the team member needs to do to succeed at their job. By writing the requirements down, you clarify the position for yourself and the potential team member. You should also use the KRA during the interview process to ensure you hire someone with the skills needed to win in the role.

Related articleHow to Create Role Clarity Using Key Results Areas

Free KRA Template

Want an easy way to create KRAs for your team members? Grab our free template, plus get a couple examples of completed KRAs for reference!

Get the Free Template

2. Order supplies and equipment.

Picture this: Your new hire shows up on day one ready to kill it, but you don’t have the tools or resources for them to start work. So, instead of being hyped up for their new job, they’re sitting at their desk twiddling their thumbs with no direction on how to integrate into the team or do their work. Every item the new team member needs—computer, headset, etc.—should be ordered as soon as the role is in the budget.

3. Send HR paperwork one week in advance.

Filling out paperwork is another huge enthusiasm killer. Nothing makes a day drag like trying to figure out a W-4 or I-9 during employee orientation. But, unfortunately, it’s a necessary task for every new team member. So, what if you sent paperwork in advance for them to fill out? Then when they arrive on the first day, they’ll hand in their ID and any final paperwork, and it’s off to the races!

4. Send a welcome email.

Newsflash: There’s no way around boring paperwork. But you can make it better when you add a fun, sincere welcome email into the mix that officially greets them the week before they start. A welcome email tells new team members what to expect on their first day—plus, it includes a schedule and other important information, like where to park and how to get into the building.

5. Create a team welcome note.

To make a new hire feel at home the minute they walk in the door, buy or create a card or desk sign and have every member of their team sign it. It’s a small, simple gesture that can go a long way and speaks volumes of your company culture.

What to Do on the First Day

1. Greet them.

Starting a new job is exciting, but it can also be scary. On a new team member’s first day, someone should always be at the door to greet them, show them where to go, and make them feel welcome.

2. Give them a tour.

Remember, a brand-new team member doesn’t even know where the bathroom is. Give them a quick tour and introduce them to the team. If your company is too big for individual introductions, make sure to introduce them at your next team meeting.

3. Go over policies and procedures.

Time to review your company’s policies, procedures, benefits and core values with the new team member! Do this on their first day so they know how to be successful right off the bat. Consider preparing an information packet with a checklist of tasks you want them to complete in their first 90 days. Be sure one of the tasks is to talk to their leader about their KRA to ensure they understand their duties. Also include a required reading list (more on this below).

4. Take them to lunch.

Treat the new team member to lunch with a few key people on your team. This will make them feel welcome and allow everyone to get to know each other and start building relationships.


Ready to be challenged, inspired and motivated by the world’s top business and thought leaders? Join us online for the EntreLeadership Summit livestream—you can even invite your team to watch with you.

Related article: Communication Styles: How to Talk to Your Team

During the First 90 Days

1. Do a culture dunk.

This may seem like an odd piece of advice, especially if you have a long list of work you can’t wait for your new hire to tackle. But we guarantee it works. No one at Ramsey Solutions begins work on day one. Each person is dunked into the culture, which means they’re given time to learn about the company and our core values. They’re also given a required reading list and job training. On some teams, it takes a month to get a new person up and running prior to starting individual work.

Related article: What Is Company Culture?

2. Schedule regular check-ins.

During the first 90 days, schedule time to periodically check in with new team members to see how they’re doing. Are there any issues they need help with or things they don’t understand? Are they fitting in with the team? It’s a good idea to show them they have support and to tackle issues before they become bigger problems.

Related articleHow to Deal With an Underperforming Employee

3. Give them a required reading list.

Reading is powerful! That’s why you may want your new team members to read certain books during their first 90 days on the job. Here are four books Ramsey Solutions uses to help reinforce and teach our company values. Use this list, plus our 21 Best Leadership Books list, as a starting point to create your own reading guide for new team members:

  • EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
    Learn the principles Dave used to grow his business from a card table in his living room into a major national brand.
  • The Go-Getter by Peter B. Kyne
    Decide that you won’t be denied from reaching your goals. This is a requirement for success in any area of your life.
  • The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
    Shift your focus from getting to giving—this ultimately leads to unexpected returns.
  • Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson
    A simple parable filled with insights designed to help you manage change quickly and prevail in changing times.

4. Celebrate.

For the first 90 days at a lot of companies, each team member is on probation. That’s their time to get a real feel for the company and vice versa to make sure everyone feels good about the fit. Once those three months are over and the new team member becomes an official member of the family, it’s time to celebrate. Plan a time for lunch, coffee, dessert or whatever you like so you can share stories about the company, answer questions, and get to know your new people. Ramsey celebrates new team members quarterly at an afternoon dessert reception with top Ramsey executives. It’s always a favorite among new team members.

Related article: 10 Easy Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

What’s Next: Go All In With Onboarding

It’s okay (and really normal) for new team members to be a little nervous as they start their new role, but it’s not okay to make them sweat even more because they don’t have an onboarding plan. Fast-track their confidence in their new role by applying the tips we just covered. Want to learn more on how to be intentional with building a great company? Check out The EntreLeadership Podcast. You’ll get practical advice on creating a good company culture from Dave Ramsey, the founder and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. And you’ll have a chance to call in with questions!

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About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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