5 Must-Capture Onboarding Metrics to Prove Your Value

We all know the old saying, “If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Our onboarding programs are no different. If our data doesn’t tell a story about our program’s success, how much value is truly perceived? 

At the day job, I’m currently in the throes of working on our 2017 Training Magazine Top 125 application. We were honored to be included on the 2016 list, and we’re using the valuable feedback we received to make our application even more compelling this time around.

I recently read Will Thalheimer’s terrific new book, Performance-Focused Smile Sheets – if you haven’t read it yet, I’ll wait here patiently while you click on the link and ORDER A COPY RIGHT NOW. 

**cue hold music**

Okay, I’m assuming you took my word for it and ordered the book. When it arrives in a few days, clear your calendar…you won’t be able to put it down, and you will immediately want to start re-imagining your Level 1 evaluation process. Trust me on this one.

I digress.

The timing of reading Mr. Thalheimer’s book and beginning the arduous Top 125 application process have mind swirling over the importance of measuring the success of learning programs – beyond Level 1. Whether you are hoping to deepen the footprint of new employee learning or a training program, jockey for additional headcount or even position yourself for a promotion, you need data. Data becomes the plot of a page-turning story of how your program is making a difference – both quantitatively and qualitatively – in your organization.

And, friends, you need to tell that story in the language that resonates with your company’s decision makers. 

That language? Business results. Outcomes. Money. Even for you folks in a non-profit setting.

True, a comprehensive measurement (and any good story, for that matter) needs to balance “the head and the heart” – you need qualitative data (heart) to balance the quantitative (head). In order to prove tangible value to the company, you must look closely at WHAT your program can impact. HOW it can impact. WHO it impacts. Start with the end in mind.- why do you need this program?

If you are looking to develop a new onboarding program, or refine the processes of an existing program, here are 5 metrics that, depending on your organization’s priorities, can help you get started on your way to a data-driven success story:

1. Reduction in attrition – How long are employees staying with your company? We all know that it costs significantly more to recruit, hire, onboard and train employees than to retain, continually develop and (hopefully) promote internally. Partner with your Talent Acquisition/HR team to benchmark your current attrition rate and measure it over time. This can also be a springboard for more robust Employee Engagement metrics. Does your organization participate in a “Best Places to Work” program in your community? A solid onboarding program can certainly contribute to an engaged workforce.

2. Reduction in time to productivity – How long does it take a new employee to be “up to speed” on systems, processes and procedures? Time is money. Work with your hiring managers to identify the current timeframe for new employees to be fully productive, align your program accordingly and set a goal to shave some time off. Ongoing hiring manager surveys can be an easy way to capture feedback and needle-moving.

3. Increased sales in the first 30/60/90 days – Sales – whether new business, upselling or cross-selling, renewals, or whatever products or services that sustain your business, are the lifeblood. Enable and equip your new sales employees with the proper tools to be successful, and monitor their performance during the first months on the job.

4. Reduction in errors/accidents among new employees – It may be system errors, data entry errors, cash handling errors, shipping errors, customer fulfillment errors, on-the-job accidents or any number of other factors that impact employee safety and risk, business production, profitability and customer service. Everybody messes up once in awhile, particularly when navigating a new job. However, errors cost money (and remember…money is the native tongue of the decision makers). If you are able to meet with key leaders in your organization, this is a great topic to discuss. Ask them which employee errors keep them up at night – what has the most significant impact on the business? Seek opportunities to lower these erroneous incidents – this should be a priority during new employee training.

5. Improved customer satisfaction scores – This should be a given, but unfortunately it is often overlooked. If your new employees are customer-facing (heck, even if they’re not), are you helping them establish a direct line of sight to the customer experience from Day One? And are you providing managers with tools to help them maintain that line of sight with their teams beyond New Employee Orientation? It is critical that new employees know how they impact the customer experience, whether it is directly or indirectly. Clearly communicating your organization’s commitment to your customer, as well as setting service expectations and empowering new employees to take care of customers is essential for long-term success. Customer-centric organizations recognize, prioritize and measure this as part of their onboarding process. 
If you are not capturing this data, trust me – someone is. Make that person your new BFF. Find a link between onboarding and these a metrics.

The more connected your onboarding program is to your business processes and priorities, the clearer your data-driven story becomes, and the easier it is to demonstrate the value of onboarding. It becomes a competitive advantage for your organization, but also your competitive advantage as a leader and trusted advisor WITHIN your organization. 

>>> Your turn: How are you communicating the value of onboarding in your organization? Share your best tip in the comments below!


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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!