Ninety is a magic number. Neuroscientists and positive psychologists have proven that it’s the approximate amount of days it takes to solidify a habit. Therefore, it is the amount of time companies have to set their new employees up for lasting professional success. Your young professional employees, particularly those coming straight from college, will have a number of habits they’ve solidified through their years in school. If you want your newest employees to consistently achieve peak performance, make sure you are clear about which habits you are reinforcing and which habits you are reshaping.

Habits To Keep

Balancing Multiple “Things”

While multitasking is rarely an effective use of an employee’s time, knowing how to move back and forth intentionally from one activity to another is. Having heavily programmed childhoods and teen years, many young professionals are quite skilled at shifting their focus to a new focus within a matter of minutes. Relish this!


Young professionals have been working in groups their entire lives. You want to continue this approach to work for it is comfortable for most young professionals. By feeling a sense of community at work, your young professionals will feel more engaged in what they do and have people to turn to for guidance and support as they work out the inevitable kinks in performing their new roles.

Respect for Difference

Your young professionals grew up in the most diverse generation in history. They enjoy and expect to be surrounded by people with different ways of thinking, creating, communicating, leading, and problem solving. Have new employees keep what’s authentic about themselves. It will rub off on more seasoned employees who could use a healthy dose of multiple ways of seeing, believing, and behaving.

Commitment to Learning

Young professionals are sponges. They are eager to learn and grow in their roles. Help your youngest new hires to frame the work they are engaged in as the next progression of the work they engaged in while in school. Take care to provide opportunities for them to develop, even after those first 90 day, for it will help them to stay motivated, focused, and on track for future promotion.

Recycle-the-Box™ Thinking

Young professional new hires don’t just “think outside the box.” They throw the box up in the air and don’t let it fall back down until they are able to remake it into a solution that solves a problem.  They have innovation wired into their DNA. They have a predilection for creating solutions that make people happy, save money, and are for the greater good. Be sure to give young employees freedom to rethink how their own work is completed and encourage the appropriate expression of ideas in meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Habits to Reshape


Young professionals have a tendency to de-prioritize sleep, but exhaustion on a 9-to-5 schedule isn’t sustainable for someone desiring career success. Show new hires just how important healthy habits are through how you manage your time, energy, and stress. Create a culture where work-life integration is the norm, not an aberration.


When nearing the end of one’s schooling, the all-nighter can often be a symptom of a larger condition—senioritis. Lack of motivation and concentration, decreased performance and engagement, and excessive tardiness and frequent absences are key features of senioritis. Be  aware of when these lulls are likely to happen—after young professionals get comfortable in their roles or after the achievement of a big goal. Always have an eye towards re-energizing your employees, and initiate conversations if and when you suspect they are becoming disengaged so that you can co-create ways for them to hit their “refresh” buttons.

The “What’s My Grade?” Mentality

After being in school, in many cases for 19 years, young professionals have become accustomed to measuring success by their grades. While in school, this often meant just doing what was necessary to receive the score of their choosing. No less; no more. But in the workplace, this mentality needs to be squashed immediately. Provide ongoing feedback so your young professionals know where they are strong and where they can grow. Inspire them not only to get work “done,” but rather to go above and beyond and deliver top quality work.

Success Is About the Individual

Even though young professionals have extensive team experience, another drawback of their many years of education is that they are used to being assessed. Individually. You don’t want employees who show up every day thinking they need to compete to get noticed. If this attitude is left unchecked, it can result in employees who get in their own and others’ way of success, and ultimately create an unnecessarily competitive workplace environment.

The Loudest One Wins

Professionals who continue to see success as an individual achievement may also come across as ill-informed, inappropriate, or downright abrasive in their communication. Show your new hires to speak with—rather than at—people, as well as when and how to provide useful and valuable feedback in conversations.

By investing time, energy, and resources into your company’s onboarding, you invest in your company’s long-term success. You reduce turnover and under performance. As a result, you save money. And you ensure that your new employees don’t feel like they will either “sink or swim.” Instead, you help them feel like you want for them what they want for themselves – to be a contributing member of your company and a good fit within the culture.

Related: Are College Graduates in HR Setting their Sights Too High?

Alexia Vernon is an author, speaker, International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach, trainer, and media personality who specializes in helping organizations recruit, retain, educate, and grow their young professional workforce. In her book 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance, Alexia demonstrates how to achieve the goal of getting new employees oriented, integrated and trained within 90 days of their employment. You can connect with Alexia on Twitter @AlexiaVernon.

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