How to use onboarding surveys to increase employee engagement and retention

How to use onboarding surveys to increase employee engagement and retention

As your business grows, keeping up with the hiring process becomes increasingly difficult. You may find that minor issues are not resolved or the hiring process is inefficient. This can lead to low employee engagement, a high turnover rate, and a headache for your business leaders! 

Fortunately, onboarding surveys can reduce this issue. Onboarding surveys are a valuable tool that can help organizations gather feedback from new hires about their onboarding experience, identify areas for improvement, and increase employee engagement and retention.

This article explores how to use onboarding surveys to increase employee engagement and retention. We will discuss the benefits of onboarding surveys, offer best practices for creating new employee surveys, and include onboarding survey templates. 

What Are Onboarding Surveys?

Onboarding surveys are a way for companies to get feedback from new employees about their first impression. These surveys usually include survey questions for new hires. However, they can also measure onboarding experiences for employees at 30, 60, 90, and 120-day tenures. 

This survey helps employers understand how they can improve their hiring process and create a positive experience for new hires. 

Different Types Of Onboarding Surveys 

There are 5 different stages of employee onboarding surveys:

  • Recruitment/Candidate Experience Survey. This survey is sent to job applicants during the recruitment process to assess their experience during the hiring process. It can help companies identify areas for improvement, streamline their recruitment process, and attract better candidates in the future.
  • Pre-Onboarding Survey. This survey is sent to new hires before their first day. This survey can help companies tailor their onboarding process to meet the individual needs of new hires.
  • Orientation Survey. This survey is sent to new hires at the end of orientation. It can help companies identify areas where they need to improve their orientation program. It also helps new employees acclimate to their new work environment, integrate into the company culture, and become effective contributors.
  • After Onboarding Survey. This survey is sent to new hires after they have been with the company for about 90 days. It can help to assess their overall onboarding experience and the long-term impact of a company’s onboarding process. Through this information, you can make improvements for future hiring campaigns.
  • Manager onboarding feedback surveys. These surveys gather feedback about the manager's role in the onboarding process. They can help organizations identify areas where managers can improve their onboarding efforts and provide insights into the quality of the manager-employee relationship.

How Onboarding Surveys Improve Employee Engagement

Studies have found that up to 20% of all new hires resign within the first 45 days of their role! When you consider that replacing an employee costs between $3,000 and $18,000, it is clear that this must be avoided at all costs. 

Onboarding surveys help hiring managers understand the recruitment process from the employee’s perspective. It can highlight any issues with the hiring process and help you understand how the process can be streamlined. In addition, onboarding surveys can help improve employee engagement and reduce employee turnover. 

Onboarding surveys can improve employee engagement in several ways:

  1. It shows that employee feedback is valued. By asking new hires for feedback through onboarding surveys, organizations demonstrate that they value their employees' opinions and are committed to continuous improvement. This can help new hires feel more connected to the organization.
  2. Identifying areas for improvement. Onboarding surveys can help organizations identify areas of the onboarding process needing improvement. By addressing these areas, organizations can create a better onboarding experience for new hires, leading to greater engagement and retention. Additionally, onboarding surveys help new hires feel more supported and clear about their job responsibilities, which can contribute to greater engagement.
  3. Building relationships. Onboarding surveys can help new hires build relationships with their colleagues and mentors. By asking about the effectiveness of mentorship and the quality of communication, organizations can ensure that new hires have the support they need to feel engaged and connected to the organization.

Overall, onboarding surveys can help companies create a more positive and effective experience for new hires. This leads to increased employee retention, job satisfaction, and more productive employees. 

The 4 C’s of Onboarding

To effectively onboard your employees, you should follow  ‘The 4 C’s’ of effective onboarding. This model was created by Dr. Talya Bauer from the SHRM Foundation and stands for compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. 

Compliance

Compliance is the first level of employee onboarding and dictates the legal aspect of onboarding. New hires must comply with the company's policies, procedures, and legal requirements. This includes health and safety protocols, company policies, and any security guidelines such as data privacy. 

Clarification

Clarification ensures new hires understand their job roles, responsibilities, and business expectations. This includes clarifying the company's goals, values, and culture.

Culture

Culture includes helping new employees understand a business's social norms, communication styles, and values. This includes introducing new hires to key colleagues and stakeholders and providing opportunities for socialization.

Connection

This refers to helping new hires establish connections and relationships within the company. Consider assigning a mentor or buddy, providing networking opportunities, and encouraging open communication with new teammates.

When designing an effective onboarding process, you should follow these four steps.

How To Design An Effective Onboarding Survey

Creating an onboarding survey can help you gather feedback from new hires on their experience and identify areas for improvement in your onboarding process. However, your survey will only be as effective as you design it to be. 

Here are some steps you can follow to create an effective onboarding survey.

  1. Define goals for the survey

Consider what specific information you want to gather from new hires. Do you want to measure satisfaction, identify areas for improvement, or both? You can define your survey goals and construct your research questions from this. 

  1. Identify the target audience 

The next step is to decide who will take part in your survey. Will it be all new hires or a specific group of employees? Consider the timing of the survey as well. Will you send it out immediately after onboarding or after a certain amount of time has passed?

  1. Develop the survey questions

You can use the 4 C’s on employee onboarding to help you develop your survey questions. Create questions that are relevant to your goals and target audience. You should include questions about onboarding, training materials, and overall experience. Make sure the questions are clear and easy to understand.

Examples of common onboarding survey questions, according to 4C Model of successful onboarding
  1. Test the survey

Before sending out the survey, test it with a small group of employees to ensure the questions are clear and the survey functions correctly.

  1. Distribute the survey

Once the survey is tested, send it out to your target audience. Provide clear instructions on how to complete the survey and emphasize the importance of their feedback.

  1. Analyze the results

This step will help you identify areas for improvement in your onboarding process. Consider using tools such as data visualization to help you interpret and understand the results.

  1. Take action

Use the feedback to make improvements to your onboarding process. Share the survey results with key stakeholders and communicate any changes you plan to make based on the feedback received.

  1. Create a schedule of the surveys aligned with the employee onboarding cycle. 

This will help you maintain a consistent feedback schedule with new hires and help you create a bank of data from onboarding surveys. 

This schedule might look like: 

Days 1-7: New hire survey
First 30 days: First-month check-in survey
First 90 days: Onboarding summary survey
First 120 days:
Post-onboarding survey

Onboarding Survey Best Practices

✅ Checklist of successful onboarding survey practices
  • Always start the goals of the survey. Before the survey, decide what data and metrics you’ll measure with this survey. From this, plan what questions you’ll ask. You can focus on what actions to take later.
  • Use a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions. Use closed-ended questions to gather data on specific topics and open-ended ones to provide detailed feedback.
  • Keep the survey short and focused. Include at most 20-25 questions to avoid survey fatigue.
  • Incentivise test taking. Offer your employees a small reward for completing the tests to increase completion rates. 
  • Administer the survey at the right time. Plan surveys for 7, 30, and 90 days after onboarding so the information remains fresh in your employee’s mind.
  • Incorporate rating scales and benchmarks. Use rating scales to understand new hire satisfaction quantitatively. This data can be benchmarked against industry standards or company goals.
  • Share results with stakeholders. Communicate results to HR, management, and the onboarding team. Consider holding a feedback session to help all stakeholders better understand the data.
  • Take actions based on results. Implementing survey feedback shows new hires that their opinions matter which will increase employee engagement.
  • Use automation tools. Use survey-builders or performance management solutions to schedule, analyze, and take action from the data.

Examples of onboarding survey questions 

Pre-Onboarding Survey Questions:

  1. How did you hear about this job opportunity?
  2. How would you rate your experience with the job application process?
  3. What are your expectations for your onboarding process?
  4. Are there any skills or knowledge areas you feel would be helpful to know before starting your job?
  5. What are your career ambitions, and how can we support you in achieving them?

New Hire Survey Questions:

  1. How would you rate your first day/week on the job?
  2. Self-efficiency: Were all necessary tools and software available on your first day/week?
  3. Role clarity: Were your job duties and expectations communicated to you?
  4. Social integration: How helpful was your onboarding buddy/mentor in helping you navigate your new job?
  5. Culture: The organizational values align well with my values. Scale of 1 (Strongly disagree)  to 5 (Strongly agree)

30 day Onboarding Survey Questions:

  1. How would you rate your overall onboarding experience thus far?
  2. Self-efficiency: Were you provided the necessary training and resources to perform your job effectively?
  3. Role clarity: Have you received feedback on your performance since joining the organization?
  4. Social integration: Do you feel socially integrated?
  5. Compliance: Were all of your legal questions and concerns addressed in a timely manner during your onboarding process?

60 day onboarding survey questions:

  1. Self-efficiency: How comfortable do you feel with your job responsibilities?
  2. Role clarity: Do you know what work results are expected from you?
  3. Social integration: Did you get along with your team members?
  4. Compliance: Are you satisfied with your health & insurance package?
  5. Is there anything you would to change or improve about your onboarding experience?

90 day onboarding survey questions:

  1. How has your experience been with the organization thus far?
  2. Self-efficiency: Are you satisfied with the support and resources provided during onboarding?
  3. Role clarity: Have you had the opportunity to meet with your manager to discuss your performance and career goals?
  4. Social integration: Do your manager and coworkers communicate well with you?
  5. Is there anything to improve the onboarding process for future new hires?

120 day Onboarding Survey Questions:

  1. Self-efficiency: Are you proud of the work you do?
  2. Self-efficiency: Do you feel that you are challenged at work?
  3. Role clarity: Do you clearly understand your job expectations and performance metrics?
  4. Culture: How well do you think you fit into company culture? 
  5. What additional information or resources would have been helpful for you during your first day/week?

The Role Of Managers In Onboarding Surveys

Managers are responsible for ensuring their team is engaged, motivated, and for their success within the organization. They also play a crucial role in onboarding surveys. Here are some key actions that managers can take after conducting an onboarding survey:

Manager's role in onboarding of new hire
  • Communicate the results to their team. Once the results have been cascaded to managers, they should share this information with their teams. Managers should choose the most suitable discussion format for their team, whether it's a 1:1 meeting with each team member or a team meeting. Asking team members if they are comfortable discussing the results with everyone or prefer talking about it privately can help create a safe space for open communication.
  • Clarify survey priorities. To start the discussion, managers should first consider all areas of improvement identified in the survey. They should ask team members what each survey question means to them and whether they have any additional insights to share.
  • Take action. After clarifying survey priorities, managers should ask their team members for suggestions on improving onboarding. Managers can ask open-ended questions to encourage team members to share thoughts and ideas. For example, "What would you improve recognition at work?"
  • Consider priorities for the team. Once suggestions are gathered, managers should consider all the suggestions and prioritize the areas that need immediate attention. They can share their insights on the survey results and discuss how they will address the issues.
  • Track and communicate progress. Managers need to track and communicate the progress made on the action plan to their team members. They should regularly communicate progress and changes to their team. If suitable, they could do this through regular check-ins, team meetings, or a team-wide email.

By taking these steps, managers can help to create a more engaged and motivated team that feels heard, valued, and supported in their roles.

Summary 

Onboarding surveys are a great tool to get feedback from new hires, identify areas that need improvement, and increase employee engagement. Through this, managers will see an increase in their teams’ productivity, retention rate, and workplace happiness. 

To make the most out of onboarding surveys, it's essential to create effective surveys and send them out at different stages of the onboarding process. By doing this, organizations can gather valuable feedback that can be used to tailor the onboarding experience, make improvements, and create a happier and more engaged workforce.

By showing that you care about your employees' onboarding experience and using their feedback to improve the process, you can create a workplace that attracts and retains the best talent.

Dariia Voiedilova-Lisovyk

Dariia Voiedilova-Lisovyk

People & Culture Lead at Uptech

With 8+ years in Tech, Dariia is skilled at balancing direct work with people and structured HR process organization. Her experience spans from start-ups to global brands with 15 800+ team members.

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