You need a plan to onboard engineers onto your teams successfully. Why? Onboarding new software developer team members to become full contributors typically takes several months. In order to maintain a positive candidate experience and solidify their place on the team, it’s crucial to spend the time and energy coaching them up to speed on your product, internal processes, and coding standards. Investing in this work helps developers contribute early and often, plus it leads to greater retention down the road.
Each developer costs upwards of $20,000 to $35,000 to become a full contributor, not to mention the incalculable amount of time consumed across your team. So, it makes sense to invest in doing it well with a solid onboard plan for engineers.How Does Great Developer Onboarding Fit in, and Why Does it Matter?
In short, developer onboarding is closely related to retention, job satisfaction, productivity, and success.
Despite pinpointing all the downstream effects of onboarding, consistently successful onboarding has a long way to go.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” onboarding solution, but there are best practices worth considering.
Hired partnered with Educative to craft an eBook to outline detailed steps to create an efficient and successful onboarding framework (along with key tactics to personalize for each employee) and a free downloadable 30/60/90 template.
Use this as your guide to streamline the onboarding process for all your new hires.Why a 30/60/90 Onboard Plan Determines an Engineer’s Success
Onboarding is essential, but many organizations struggle with it, especially in remote or hybrid work environments.
Here are three key reasons you need to use a 30/60/90 plan to onboard your tech talent:
Only 12% of U.S. employees said their company did a good job onboarding, according to Gallup analytics. One in five employees rated their experience as poor or received no onboarding at all.
On the other hand, 70% of the employees with exceptional onboarding experiences highly rated their jobs and were 2.6x more likely to be satisfied with and stay at their workplace.
Turnover is not a new challenge, but an effective onboarding program will significantly reduce high turnover rates, especially during those all-important first 90 days.
What’s the reason for onboarding failure? Atul Gawande, author of “The Checklist Manifesto,” writes that there’s a clear distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don’t know enough) and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we make because we don’t make proper use of what we know).
Failure in developer onboarding results from both “errors of ineptitude” and “errors of ignorance.”
Engineering Managers and team leads have a lot on their plates to meet company goals. Despite having access to online resources, documentation, and personal knowledge to create a successful onboarding solution, the implementation often falls short. This is often due to limited bandwidth.
On the other hand, murky company goals or differing expectations from leadership can result in misaligned onboarding milestones due to errors of ignorance. This happens frequently in newly-created roles or those part of new initiatives.
Creating a 30/60/90 onboarding plan tackles both types of errors by capturing refined knowledge and documenting clear milestones to align expectations across the company.
It’s not entirely up to the new hire for a successful onboarding process — the mentor holds just as much responsibility.
Training is a multi-stakeholder task; documenting expectations for mentors involved in training keeps all team members on the same page and minimizes confusion from miscommunicated or unspoken expectations.
As a mentor, encourage questions and be a helpful resource during the onboarding process by setting clear expectations. It’s natural to want to impress the new team or supervisor, so some new hires may be hesitant to show ignorance or confusion OR bite off more than they can chew within the first couple of weeks.
Before we dive into the specifics of the onboarding plan, let’s cover 3 top-of-mind priorities for your 30/60/90 plan. Think of this as an outline blueprint for what a new employee will accomplish within 90 days.
Prioritize the following elements when developing an engineering 30/60/90 plan:
Set your new hire up with the tools and documentation needed to do their day-to-day tasks.
Some considerations include the following:
How does your onboarding plan for engineers meet your new hire’s specific needs?
Every developer enters your company at a different starting point. Joseph Gefroh, VP of Engineering at HealthSherpa, manages this by tailoring onboarding to varied learning needs and experience levels.
“A person can be great at one thing but junior in another. Identifying where your team’s individual strengths and weaknesses lie is, therefore, the key first step in leading them.” – Joseph Gefroh, VP of Engineering at HealthSherpa
Just because you’re hiring multiple people for similar roles doesn’t mean each of those tech engineers will have the same learning path. One may have completely different qualifications and require additional training modules.
How does your engineering onboarding process include the rest of the team?
As you build your plan, note the action items required to familiarize your new hire with the team’s processes and culture.
Include items such as
Following the framework above, let’s dive into building your 30/60/90 onboard plan for engineers with some pre-boarding.Pre-boarding (T-7 days)
Summary: Key Action Items for Pre-boarding Phase
Before a new hire’s official start date, collaborate with your HR team to ensure a smooth first week. Consider these items as the “pre-boarding” tasks:
If your company supplies any type of welcome package (company swag, welcome letter, personalized items, etc.), prepare these for arrival or ship to remote employees. Add a quick message with a 1st day schedule.
Are there items you need to send early to acclimate new hires (HR documents, benefits information, etc.)? Give them a heads up of documents or types of IDs they’ll need to bring/send. If they’re completing tax or other government forms remotely, provide a sample of a completed version to guide them.
Send key company information, such as main mission, values, goals (annual and overall), history, or need-to-know operational details.
Work with your IT team to set up a workstation or ship all necessary equipment and hardware (laptop, mouse, keyboard, headset, chargers, adapters, etc.). Be sure to complete this well before their first day in case of delays. Nothing’s worse than a new team member without equipment on Day 1.
Source: DevPathYou’re Ready to Welcome Your New Developer or Engineer and begin a strong onboard plan!
Congratulations, you’ve done the work to plan and prepare for a great onboarding experience for developers on your team.
Originally published Dec. 8, 2021. Updated by Hired Content Team and Educative on September 18, 2023
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