Employee onboarding should be more than just a tedious mountain of paperwork for your new hires to complete. Your onboarding program should give the newest additions to your team the time to learn about your company culture, the performance expectations of the organization and their role, and the skills and knowledge they’ll need to succeed at their jobs. It’s also your new hires’ first impression of what it means to be an employee at your company, and sets the standard for the rest of their employment. 

As a business, you put a lot of time, effort, and money into employee onboarding, so you want to make sure these investments pay off. But how can you reliably measure the impact and effectiveness of your new hire orientation program? The answer is: By using onboarding surveys.

Onboarding surveys ask recent new hires to share what they thought of their first few days or weeks on the job, and to evaluate the success and effectiveness of their orientation program. These insights help your Human Resources team identify where your onboarding programs can be improved, and then take swift action to introduce these findings.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what onboarding surveys are in more detail, why they’re important for your business, and how you can successfully create your first onboarding survey. Read on for how to gather key feedback from the newest additions to your team and build an onboarding program that helps ensure your employees have long, successful careers at your company. 

What Are Onboarding Surveys? 

Onboarding surveys, or new hire surveys, are often used by Human Resources and People teams to measure employee satisfaction toward internal onboarding and recruitment processes. These surveys collect both quantitative and qualitative employee feedback that HR teams can then use to refine or improve the new hire experience. 

Even if you think that your organization already does an excellent job of preparing new employees for long and successful careers with your organization, you can still benefit from onboarding surveys; employee feedback can help you further refine your program and ensure you’re providing each and every new hire with a great experience. After all, new hires are hearing and seeing your onboarding content for the first time, so they might catch something you missed. Their fresh perspectives, along with their experiences onboarding at their previous companies, contain a wealth of information that you can tap into and use to improve the new hire experience at your organization. 

To collect the most helpful and impactful feedback, you need to send out onboarding surveys at just the right time. You’ll want to share the survey while the recruiting and onboarding processes are still fresh in your new hires' minds, but before an employee becomes so busy with their role that they’re less likely to participate. This timeline could be different for each organization so you’ll need to find which one works best for you, whether that’s after their first week or first month of employment at your company.

Why Onboarding Surveys Are Important 

A strong orientation process gets your new hires up to speed fast so they can produce quality work from the get-go. It also enables you to introduce your new employees to your company culture, mission, vision, and core values, helping them feel like a part of the team from day one. 

New hire surveys can let you know whether or not your onboarding program answers all your newly hired employees’ questions, prepares them for their new jobs, and sets them up to have successful careers at your organization. These surveys also help your business shape an individual’s overall employee experience, which, when done right, can help improve employee engagement, productivity, and retention

But while creating a strong onboarding program might seem like a no-brainer, very few companies actually execute it well. Sure, reviewing company policies, leading on-the-job training, and offering new hire buddies can help your employees start their careers with your company, but these factors are often not enough to make employees feel prepared to begin their new roles. You might also be surprised to learn that only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace Report

In the past, many organizations had the luxury of meeting in person or flying employees to the company headquarters to onboard, allowing them to witness the company culture firsthand, meet colleagues face-to-face, and benefit from both in-person classroom learning and job shadowing. Unfortunately, this is no longer a possibility for many businesses, as the pandemic has forced a lot of organizations to make their onboarding programs virtual. But often, merely transitioning these programs from in-person to online isn’t enough. If onboarding was hard before, it’s even harder now, thanks to the ubiquitousness of remote work

A survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of asynchronous video messaging company Volley found that only 4% of new hires who started their position since the beginning of the pandemic said their onboarding process wasn't difficult. For the remaining 96% of new hires, many felt they didn’t know how to connect with their team members — and that lack of connection should be troubling for employers. Just adapting orientation programs from in-person to virtual clearly isn’t enough; companies need to do more to recreate the sense of belonging and connection that employee onboarding in-person once held. 

When new hires fail to form an emotional bond with the company and their coworkers, it’s easier for them to become unengaged or quit. In fact, HR software company BambooHR found that a staggering 31% of people have quit a job within the first six months of their start date, with 16% of new hires leaving a job within a week and 17% within the first month. That’s an alarming rate of attrition, especially during a period when these employees should be eager to be joining your company. If your business can get to the bottom of why employees are leaving your company so quickly after joining, you can improve your workplace experience and ensure that future new hires don’t flee so fast either. Onboarding surveys can help you do just that.

In short, onboarding surveys are important because they allow you to listen to your new hires and understand their needs. The workforce is constantly changing and new hires have new wants that their predecessors might not have needed. Having an always-open line of communication to your newest employees can keep you abreast of these changes and provide you with actionable ways you can evolve your orientation program. 

And that’s not all — here are some more insights you can learn from employee onboarding surveys: 

  • The quality and effectiveness of your overall onboarding program
  • How well employees understand the expectations of their new role
  • How connected your employees feel to your mission and values
  • If any additional organization-focused or job-specific training sessions are needed
  • If there are any gaps in your current orientation program
  • If there are any improvements that can be made to enhance your current program

Gaining an understanding of what is and isn’t working in your current onboarding program is crucial to building a new hire orientation process that positively impacts each and every one of your newest employees. 

What to Include in an Onboarding Survey

Every onboarding survey should have space for you to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from your new hires about their level of satisfaction and experience onboarding at your organization. This will allow you to have a baseline so you can track changes in employee sentiment over time, as well as collect helpful and actionable feedback you can use to improve your onboarding program. 

Similar to engagement surveys, it's best to build an onboarding survey with a mix of open-ended and scale-rated questions so you can collect both quantitative and qualitative feedback. For your scale-rated questions, you can either use a numerical scale, like asking respondents to rate the accuracy of a statement from 1 to 5, or adopt the Likert Scale, which has options ranging from ‘Strongly Disagree’ to ‘Strongly Agree.’ Using rating scales makes it easier to collect, analyze, and subsequently act on employee feedback collected from your onboarding surveys, while open-ended questions allow you to hear from your employees directly and better understand the reasoning behind their ratings. 

Here’s a mix of rating-scale and open-ended questions that you can use in your onboarding survey. 

Sample Onboarding Survey Questions

Recruitment

  • The compensation offer I received was competitive. 
  • I found the company’s employee benefits packages straightforward and easy to understand.
  • The length of the interview process was just right.
  • I felt the interview process gave me the opportunity to showcase my skills and experience well.
  • What did you think of your recruitment experience?

Early Experience

  • The team did their best to make me feel welcome ahead of my first day.
  • I was given a clear understanding of our onboarding process in advance.
  • My manager was available for questions before my start date. 
  • The HR team was available for questions before my start date.
  • What could we have done before your start date to make you feel more welcome? 

First Day

  • My manager seemed ready for my first day.
  • My workspace and/or technology were ready for me on my first day. 
  • Completing my new hire paperwork was easy.
  • It was easy to get started with the software and tools needed for my job.
  • The HR team was readily available for any questions or concerns.
  • I had a clear idea of what to do (and where to go) on my first day. 
  • How could your first day have been improved?

Ongoing

  • I have a clear understanding of what is expected from me in my current role.
  • I have all the resources I need to do my job successfully.
  • The training I received well-prepared me for my role.
  • I have all the resources I need to be successful in my role.
  • I feel like I have a deep understanding of the company culture
  • How satisfied are you working for our company? 
  • Is your role what you expected it to be?
  • Would you recommend our company to friends and family? Why or why not? 
  • What could have made your onboarding experience more enjoyable? 

This list is far from exhaustive. Feel free to pick and choose which questions to include in your survey, add your own, or download our 30-60-90 Onboarding Survey Template for even more question suggestions. As with any survey, just be wary of including too many questions; a lengthy survey can frustrate employees and cause them to abandon it before submitting their responses, or even impact the quality of responses you receive. 

Getting Started With Employee Onboarding Surveys

Looking to roll out employee onboarding surveys with your next class of new hires? You can use any free-form or survey solution to create and share your surveys with employees. If you’re looking for a less manual and time-consuming option, consider using Lattice to build, administer, and track your onboarding surveys. With Lattice, you can automatically schedule surveys based on an employee’s start date, use expert-built survey templates, and easily review employee responses to find actionable ways to improve your onboarding program. 

Ready to create a better new hire experience for your employees? Schedule a demo to see Lattice’s onboarding surveys in action.