Building Strategic Onboarding Experience Surveys

Positive Onbaording Experience Surveys

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Onboarding experience might be the single most important factor for new hire success and onboarding experience surveys are perfect for finding out how well you are executing in this crucial realm.

Unfortunately many organizations are not focusing on onboarding correctly.

I’ve always viewed onboarding as the most important HR process with the least amount of focus in organizations. It’s often a compound title in organizations: Director of Talent Acquisition and Onboarding, Employee Engagement and Onboarding Manager, Learning and Onboarding coordinator. It also tends to live in different departments, from HR to talent acquisition to learning to operations. That’s because so many different departments contribute to onboarding  and so many have a stake in the process. This means lack of focus and poor visibility is built into the process, making it difficult to manage

This is not good.

Especially when the onboarding experience virtually sets the stage for the success or failure of new hires. The Work Institute found that 38% of new hires leave within their first year of employment. And nearly half of that comes within the first 30 days. A study by Brandon Hall Group found that companies with a positive onboarding experience have an 82% lower turnover rate in the first year of employment. These companies also enjoy 70% higher year one productivity.

So when organizations look to gather information to optimize and manage the process using onboarding surveys, it’s important to sort out what your current process is and what DATA you need to have to manage that process. In order to do that you should first define the basic goals of onboarding. I propose these are the major goals:

  • Make the new employee feel welcome and appreciated
  • Orient new hire to the company, its policies and the role
  • Ensure all materials and knowledge are made available so that the employee is productive
  • Conform to security requirements for access to sensitive information, physical environments and system.
  • Understand whether or not the new hire, the organization and the manager are satisfied with the whole arrangement (quality of hire)

In order to construct a survey or surveys that would allow you to measure the success of your onboarding efforts, you need to focus on these goals. Onboarding experience surveys are not where you ask how the hiring experience was. Or a survey to understand the strength of your offers. You should already be getting this feedback during the hiring process.

Constructing Onboarding Experience Surveys

To construct effective onboarding experience surveys, you can begin with the list of goals above (or a version of these goals customized to your organization) and prioritize them. Then go through each of these goals and determine when this kind of information will become available. Example, questions about the employee feeling welcome and appreciated can be asked within the first few days, while questions about productivity can take a month or more. Finally, decide what feedback data would give you the exact answer you need to be able to understand whether or not this goal has been met, and if not, what the deficiency is. 

You can also throw out the notion that this is going to be one survey. Onboarding is a dynamic process with several disparate informational goals that are met or not met over a long period of time. Therefore multiple surveys are required at different times. Waiting until the end for a big survey would reduce the quantity and quality of the responses and completely miss opportunities to intervene and potentially save individuals bound for attrition.

Now that you know which goals you want to measure, you can begin to map out what data would allow you to measure these goals. For example, for making the employee feel welcomed and appreciated, you may want to know if the employee was greeted by their HR representative at the appropriate time. And whether they received a T-shirt or other welcome items. These are examples of things that need to happen to impart that feeling. But you also need to know how the employee feels about those welcome items so an employee Net Promoter Score would be ideal (How likely are you to refer a colleague to work here?).

You can see the framework here. By formalizing the data you want and mapping out when it will be available,  you can create multiple surveys with questions addressing each onboarding goal at the appropriate time. And the data you get back will allow you to manage the process, identify which goals are being met and why, and use real time data to intervene in areas where the employee and/or manager may not be meeting standards important to the success of the position and the company.

Now I’ve laid out a basic framework for constructing onboarding surveys, we can begin creating questions. Stay tuned for the next article where I will delve into specific questions and provide examples of questions for onboarding experience surveys.

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