SelectOne Blog

Why an Employee’s First 60 Days are the Most Important


While Michael Phelps’ freestyle is powerful, it’s his dolphin kick right after pushing off the wall that gives him his record-breaking edge. Giving a presentation? You have the first eight seconds to grab your audience’s attention. Infants who are born with stunted growth can grow to be as healthy and functioning as their peers when provided with good nutrition and stimulation in the first two years of life.

All of which just goes to demonstrate that how you start something—whether it’s a day, a task, or a relationship—has an outsized impact on how it continues to go. If you are personally invested in the outcome (and when we talk about hiring employees, you absolutely should be!), you need to put thought and effort into that vital introductory period. As the saying goes, “Begin as you mean to go on.”

First impressions have an outsized impact on happiness.

Psychologists have found that first impressions impacted people’s assessments even months later, despite having more information to go on at that point. What’s more, people who had already formed a first impression actually behaved more warmly, even if they no longer remembered how that first impression was made to begin with.

The New Hire Activation Guide - SelectOne

While these studies were done with relation to people, it can be said for organizations as well. Someone who developed a strong impression of your company while interviewing and in their initial days and weeks as your employee are going to continue to feel favorably about it.

Even if difficulties later ensue (a PR crisis, say, or a period of understaffing), an employee with a favorable first impression is more likely to view this as a challenge to be powered through, rather than a symptom of a dysfunctional workplace. This in turn means higher retention rates and a more motivated workforce overall.

It’s easier to create new habits than break old ones.

If you find yourself taking a laissez faire approach to your new employees, you’re missing out on a rare opportunity to help people launch their time with you with the work habits you’d most like to see in your organization. If you wish more people would schedule time in their day to work on documentation, demonstrate how this works and encourage them to set aside something on their calendar just for this.

This is then “something I do at my new job” instead of “something the boss wants me to do, even though I already have a daily schedule that works just fine.” Creating good habits starting with a relatively clean slate when your new employee is still excited about newness instead of wary of change can also help to reshape your company culture over time.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to establish regular meetings between the new employee and their direct report. Many HR experts suggest doing this weekly, but you should be able to figure out the best frequency for you and your team. This gives the new employee to save important questions for this time, recieve direction and feedback, and constantly be reassured in the areas they need reassurance.

We do our best work from a place of knowledge. 

While they say ignorance is bliss, that’s only true when you don’t actually need to accomplish anything. (They also say knowledge is power, so maybe proverbs aren’t the most consistent source of management advice.) Employees are generally happier, more productive, and more innovative when they have a solid understanding of the work they do and how this fits into the broader picture of what the business does.

Often it’s this big-picture understanding that gets short shrift when there are more “urgent” needs to address when employees are new, like how to reset your password or what day everyone orders in pho for lunch. But when high-level context is provided from the very beginning, it provides a direction to new hires, allowing them to set their own goals and priorities intelligently, and ultimately empowering them to be a strong (rather than just acceptable) part of your team.

How can you make the most of your new employee’s first 60 days?

We’ve got a lot to say on that topic. Download New Hire Activation - The Employer's Guide to Mastering the Introductory Period to find out more.

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