Onboarding Surveys Tell the Story

We live in a world of surveys.  Please answer our customer satisfaction survey.  Please rate your salesperson’s performance.  Please tell us about your experience.  Please let us know how we can better meet your needs.  Please!  Please!  Please!  Organizations are going to extensive measures to capture “the voice of the customer” – ponying up discounts, incentives, and special offers just to get a few moments of the customer’s precious time for feedback.

You know what?  Learning professionals who play a role in an employee’s onboarding process are no different.  Now, I can’t offer a free appetizer on a trainee’s next visit, nor can I offer an incentive like putting a trainee into a drawing for a prize (hmmm…or can I?  That’s another conversation for another day!), but I can use similar tactics to get into the minds of new employees and find out what areas our team can improve their experience, boost engagement, and ensure that learning opportunities are consistent, relevant, and meaningful.

Too few?  Too many?  Just enough?

So, at which milestones do we step in and extend a survey?  My recommendation is to check in at the 30, 60, and 90 day markers after a new employee’s start date.  Why the frequency?  Here are some thoughts:

After 30 days:  The new employee should be past the initial first-week overwhelming feeling at this point.  S/he should be finding his/her way around at this point, yet those new employee feelings should still be fresh in mind, and capturing meaningful feedback on both the recruiting and early-stage onboarding process should be effective.

After 60 days:  The new employee is transitioning from the “honeymoon” phase of the new job, and the reality of his/her role should be setting in.  Relationships among the new employee’s team and throughout the organization should be emerging, and s/he will be able to provide interesting commentary on what was made immediately clear, what is working well, and what areas are still challenging, unknown, or inefficient.  This is also a good time to gauge the employee’s long-term retention potential…does the employee question his/her decision to join the organization?  Does s/he feel like a good fit?  Is there a flight risk?  The sooner you can gain insight into the employee’s loyalty, satisfaction, and engagement, the sooner you can address any potential risks.

After 90 days:  The employee is still, by many accounts, a “new” employee, with much to learn and discover about the organization, the team, and his/her role.  However, s/he should be immersed in the job at this point, and on the road toward full productivity.  Use this opportunity to capture additional learning needs, and question the tools and resources that would help the employee be more effective, productive, and an even stronger contributor to the team.

Three distinct new employee milestones.  Three distinct opportunities for varied feedback.

Now, feedback is only worth capturing if you actually do something with it.  How can you measure these metrics?  How can this impact not only your learning and development program, but your organization as a whole?  Here are just a few of many Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you could leverage from these surveys:

  • Increase in new employee retention rate
  • Improved engagement levels among new employees
  • Decrease in time-to-productivity for new employees
  • Increased percentage on first Performance Review (use in conjunction with survey data)

I’m sure I could call for my fellow learning geeks professionals worldwide to share metrics that help their departments ensure a valuable partnership with business units, and we would have a lengthy, engaging discussion.  But again, that’s another conversation for another day…

But for now, my questions to you:  Do you capture feedback via surveys during the onboarding process?  What information do you gather?  How do you utilize it?  Please share!

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