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MacorvaFebruary 15, 202413 min read

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Effective Employee Onboarding Surveys

 Why onboarding surveys and new employee feedback are crucial.

Imagine pouring months into recruiting the perfect hire, only to see them walk out within 90 days? That's the harsh reality for countless companies, with studies revealing an alarming 30% of employees leave within the first three months. Macorva’s data from working with clients across a broad industry spectrum indicates that the first three months of a new hire’s experience are the make or break for fulfilling employee satisfaction in the long run.

Jump to a specific topic in this blog via the links below:
Employee Churn in The First 90 days
Designing Effective Onboarding Surveys
Survey Customization
Anonymous Feedback
Recommended Questions
Why Optimizing Onboarding Experience Is Critical
Measuring and Assessing Survey Results
The Impact of Onboarding on Employee Engagement
Onboarding Best Practices


Okay, so two questions emerge immediately?

  1. What’s the impact on the bottom line of an employee turnstile spinning at such a fast rate?
  2. What’s driving its momentum? 

 

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Employee churn in the first 90 days - a severe challenge 

 
Never before has the need to understand employee onboarding survey importance and onboarding best practices been more crucial than today. We've discovered the following three factors trigger early termination in the onboarding process more than any other:
 
a.    Any significantly disruptive touchpoint in the employee experience (EX)
b.    An unexpectedly disappointing company culture
c.    Inept leadership
 
Of course, (a) to (c) above are not mutually independent. In other words, the straw that breaks the camel's back - the incident that results in a resignation letter - probably has its roots in poor management or continuous operational practices that frustrate and anger employees. Indeed, survey feedback shows that of those terminating early, more than forty percent put it down to the job role being off-kilter with how the employer initially presented it.

Future trends in onboarding require stakeholders to have their finger on the pulse of employees' feelings as they relate to work equilibrium. Resignation bubbles frequently lurk just below the surface in the onboarding stages. Detecting them before they explode unexpectedly makes all the difference in fostering employee retention. 
 
Remember, employees are people using the resources human nature provides. Unfortunately, this seldom lets them separate their personal life from work experience, given that the latter absorbs significantly more time than leisure or interaction with friends or family. 
 
So, successful onboarding surveys recognize this and emerge as the "open sesame" to knowing your employees and measuring their emotional temperature. They don’t allow deadlines, to-do lists, and schedules to interfere with that goal. In short, getting accurate and time-sensitive feedback must be a priority.
 
Impact on the bottom line
 
According to this Gallup Report, it costs businesses 50% to 2X the employees' salaries to replace them. However, that's only half the story regarding onboarding employees. One must appreciate that recruitment costs related to an "early-exiting" recruit are like a one-two punch to the solar plexus - knocking the wind out of your hiring strategies and company reputation. How?

a.    The initial expense (perhaps replacing someone else in the first place) is followed quickly by the overhead of replacing that person within six months or a year (a double whammy on the wrong side of the equation). 
b.    Projects slow down due to team instability, not to mention the domino effect on other employees who are demotivated and frustrated by the downtime and deterioration in their KPIs for no fault of their own.

This London School of Economics report confirm that lower staff turnover reflects higher profitability while deflecting toxic employee dissatisfaction, weakened staff loyalty, and productivity drops. In summary, early terminations (voluntary or by firing) are not helpful to the business' ROI, employee morale, revenue growth, or reviews impacting the company's reputation for future hiring. 

This brings us to the subjects of survey design, anonymous feedback, and employee survey software in logical order below.


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Designing Effective Onboarding Surveys


Designing onboarding surveys requires a thoughtful, step-by-step process with penetrative questions unafraid of the feedback that may throw leadership or systems in a bad light. Indeed, launching a constructive onboarding experience without asking the right questions is like diving into a pool with shallow water. Coming out of it unblemished is unlikely.  

Surveys in the first few weeks send a signal to new employees that their voice matters. It plays into an inclusive culture from the outset. Aside from that, the goal is setting one’s human resources up for success. The latter emerges from two primary sources:
 
  • Qualitative Feedback - Insights into recruits' emotions, perceptions, and thoughts intermittently during the onboarding process.
  • Quantitative Feedback - Metrics that measure onboarding trends (for example, how many recruits feel the same way), effectiveness in meeting job performance expectations (based on crucial KPIs) - any fact-based and measurable data.


Survey Customization

 
The last thing you want is to create the wrong impression in the early stages of an employee's tenure. To reiterate, recruits are hyper-sensitive to cultural ebbs and flows in the work environment, gauging whether or not the company is as good a fit as it promised during interviews. As a result, every touchpoint counts. 

So, a generic survey with questions unrelated to the job, the employees' hierarchical standing, circumstances of employment, and perceived culture will appear insincere or lack credibility. It's not so much branding surveys as instead leveraging them to brand the company as being concerned, transparent, and connected to all the drivers employees rely on to be functional at work. Put another way, you want your surveys to create employee excitement in being part of the team.

 

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Anonymous Feedback

 
Anonymous surveys work exceptionally well for potentially controversial topics, particularly for employees entrenched in the organization for years. Conversely, onboarding is all about mentoring and fast employee engagement with the recruits taking the survey. So, the onboarding surveys (distinct from general questionnaires) rely on two-way communication between new hires and management, quickly addressing severe obstacles to avoid early terminations.
In other words, anonymous surveys may be counteractive in onboarding where identity transparency works better. Why? 
  • Guessing which new hire said this or that won't help much to fix issues if the process is already derailing.  
  • Onboarding surveys are more part of the employee engagement process (versus taking a bird's eye view of the process functionality in a detached way, apart from the personalities involved).
  • New hires may only be one or two people at a time, so there's no point in hiding comments emerging from a limited respondent pool.

Please note that we're not saying anonymity is a firm no-no. For example, in cases where the company has recruited staff in batches (say, restaurant servers or support agents), it could get more accurate responses.


Recommended Questions

 
Naturally, we want to create the right balance between quantitative and qualitative feedback applicable to most situations. 
 
Your first surveys carry substantial weight on their shoulders, given that it may be the employee's first onboarding survey experience (a positive in itself). Alternatively, suppose they've encountered others. In that case, they will likely make a fast comparison (possibly unfavorable to you). That's why, to reiterate, survey customization is a vital consideration. 
 
Onboarding survey questions are bi-directional in that we're telegraphing work items the stakeholders believe are crucial to employee retention and reducing churn threats. It provides a conversational platform early in the employee lifecycle, showing that open discussion and employee ideas are valued cultural constructs.
 
Some Example Questions in Week 1 
 
In week one, focus your surveys on new hires' feelings regarding:
Their recruitment experience before onboarding
The decision to join your company
The onboarding experience so far
 
Notice below how we leave a bracket insertion {} for the company name or dates to remove “generic” from the conversation and keep the customization in the forefront.

Recruitment
These recruitment (example) questions delve into the quality of information delivered to incumbents, how they feel about the process from the application to appointment, improvement suggestions, etc.
  • Would you consider the recruitment process to be a positive experience? [Rating scale]
  • I was provided with sufficient information about {Company} during the recruitment period. [Rating scale]
  • I was provided accurate information about {Company} and my role during the recruitment process. [Rating scale]
  • Is there something we could have done to improve the recruitment process? [Free-response]

The decision to join your company
In this category, you want to know how robust your value proposition and company brand is in securing talent and skills in the marketplace:  
  • Please indicate three reasons why you joined {Company}? [Free-response or select from outlined options}  
  • I was confident I made the right decision when {Company} offered me the position. [Rating scale]
  • What can {Company} do to improve decision confidence and employee commitment during recruitment? [Free-response or select from outlined options]
  • How important was the {Company} brand as an influence to come onboard? [Rating scale]
  • What more can {Company} do to present itself positively to new hires? [Free-response]

The onboarding experience so far
  • Have you received the help you needed? [Rating scale]
  • The work environment at {Company} is what I expected. [Rating scale]
  • What’s one thing we could have done differently to improve the first week of your onboarding experience?  [Free-response]
 
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Questions in Week 5 
 
In week five, focus your surveys on the new hire's experiences in the following categories:
Level of Employee Engagement
Induction
Company Alignment
Role Understanding

The category questions provided below are all score-centric. However, at the end of each set, it's helpful to add something like the following:
  • “Considering your answers above, what would you do to improve {Category in question}? [Free-response]”

Employee engagement questions
Employee engagement is dynamic, changing over time. New hires typically show heightened engagement in the “honeymoon” stages, with the intensity falling after the first survey. So, it’s incredibly insightful to graph engagement by comparing responses at different junctures. Here are two penetrative questions under this heading:
  • How likely are you to recommend working at {Company} to a friend or colleague? [Rating scale]
  • I still think this is a great role for me. [Rating scale]

Questions about induction
New hire induction - knowing how enabled new hires feel about:
Completing their work
Their learning curve expectations versus reality
The training plan designed to get up to speed
Their manager’s leadership and mentorship abilities
Opportunities to integrate with the team

Consider the following:
  • How comfortable do you feel with the technology and tools provided for your role? [Rating scale]
  • How satisfied are you with the training and resources provided during onboarding? [Rating scale]
  • I know what my job duties are and what I need to learn to perform well. [Rating scale]
  • The information and instructions from my manager match what I expected for my job. [Rating scale]
  • I feel welcome and part of the team. [Rating scale]

Questions about organizational alignment
Organizational alignment is a vital ingredient underlying the entire employee lifecycle. Therefore, uncovering how new hires feel about organizational goals and values and how their function contributes to the corporate culture is crucial: 
  • The organizational values of {Company} align well with my own personal values. [Rating scale]
  • I understand how my role contributes to the organizational goals of {Company}. [Rating scale]
  • My company experiences so far have been positive. [Rating scale]

Questions about role perceptions
In this category, you want to know if the job description aligns with their expectations, as follows:
  • The job description {Company} provided me matches my team role. [Rating scale]
  • How do you feel about your new role and responsibilities? [Rating scale]


Why Optimizing Onboarding Experience Is Critical

 
The survey processes described above converge on ensuring new hires feel welcomed with employee support on the front burner. Onboarding training effectiveness depends substantially on the following:
  • Organizational backing to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.
  • A board-level commitment to approve the necessary resource provision and budgets for onboarding success and optimization - a giant step in the right direction.
  • Stakeholders in operations implementing approved strategies with discipline and forethought.


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Measuring and Assessing Survey Results


Onboarding survey results are as helpful as a flat battery torch (and as enlightening) unless there's a disciplined program to assess the qualitative and quantitative feedback as scientifically as possible. To create understanding with the new hires, onboarding KPIs and success parameters around the metrics at different stages should be on the table for all relevant parties to know and understand. 

Indeed, setting KPI expectations for new hires significantly reduces subjectivity in their evaluations, except when feedback suggests that performance issues stem from systemic problems within the onboarding process. That's another matter, re-emphasizing why formal appraisals of responses to questions (see above) are imperative.

Examples of leveraging KPIs are as follows:
  • A recruited salesperson may have to interact with X number of new clients in a region by week {number} or meet with X of appointed loyal clients by {Date}.
  • Management expects a digital marketing new hire to achieve a range of Google Ad KPIs defined by {X} clicks and {Z} conversions for eCommerce brands by {Date}.


The Impact of Onboarding on Employee Engagement


We’ve emphasized above that feedback analysis and regularly interacting with recruits lie at the core of continuous improvement to the point where the company and the employee feel the onboarding process is near its end. So, in a nutshell, onboarding and employee engagement go hand in hand. Of course, at that point, the integrated individuals should have a journey path ahead that connects to:
  • Role clarity
  • An established employee pride in their work
  • The KPIs and feedback they’ve experienced while onboarding

Organizational alignment at its best involves a seamless and unforced transition in which stakeholder expectations and employee engagement parameters change significantly (but controllably) as time progresses.


employee-org-chart-visualization-blog

Onboarding Best Practices 


Establishing a schedule for distributing and reviewing employee lifecycle surveys is front and center of one’s survey design strategies. This ensures consistent data collection and timely analysis. Additionally, implementing protocols to keep surveys concise, focused, and non-intrusive to respondents is essential. Involving relevant teams, managers, and new hires in a structured manner promotes collaboration and ensures all voices are heard, leading to more effective surveys.

To reiterate the points underlined above on anonymous feedback (as one tactic); deciding between keeping responses anonymous or not should be used judiciously and only where a lack of ID inclusion may skew the results. To get the best perspectives and use different methods proficiently, we suggest relying on a platform that can streamline and simplify the feedback collection and analysis process like software offered by Macorva - a recognized leader in the EX marketplace. Why?
 
  • Marcorva’s platform aligns with smoothing clients’ onboarding journeys and employee lifecycle management through sophisticated but surprisingly easy-to-use AI-driven tools that significantly accelerate the processes as outlined above. 
  • Our AI technologies embrace employee engagement, KPI monitoring, job satisfaction, and all the other drivers of a successful new hire’s EX at its core.
  • Macorva clients universally commend these solutions as incredibly effective in removing the obstructive touchpoints that slow things down when going the old-fashioned route. 

Engaging in a conversation with our team of EX experts will give insight on how our tailored AI solutions solve common onboarding challenges to boost employee engagement and drive growth.
 

Conclusion


Employee retention impacts revenue and overheads, making it a primary ROI influence modern businesses can't ignore. And where do successful employee loyalty programs begin? At the onboarding stage. The first two months of new hire engagement either puts the employee lifecycle on the right path to long-term tenure or propels it into the black hole we call premature termination.

For more information on how Macorva can enhance your EX onboarding strategy, consider exploring the following resources:

 

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