Employee Engagement

Everything You Need to Know About Onboarding Surveys

January 2, 2024
January 2, 2024
Lyssa Test
Lattice Team

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. Onboarding surveys can help. These questionnaires provide a way to measure the impact and effectiveness of your new hire orientation — information HR teams can use to refine or improve the new hire experience. 

Research from 2022 found that candidates who were asked for onboarding feedback prior to their start date were 88% more willing to increase their relationship with employers and 75% more willing to refer others to work for the company. But the same study found that only 27% of candidates were asked to provide feedback before their first day. To reap those benefits and more, ask for candidate feedback with onboarding surveys.

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.

What are onboarding surveys? 

Onboarding surveys, or new hire surveys, ask new hires to share what they thought of their first few days or weeks on the job and to evaluate the effectiveness of the orientation process. Insights from these surveys help your human resources team measure employee satisfaction toward onboarding and recruitment, identify where these procedures can be improved, and then put these findings to use when onboarding new employees.

According to HR software company BambooHR, employees who had effective onboarding report feeling up to 18x more commitment to their workplace when compared with employees who felt the onboarding was less effective. To ensure you have an effective onboarding program in place for new employees, you’ll need to start by gaining an understanding of what is and isn’t working in your current program. The easiest way to do that is with an onboarding survey.

What to Include in an Onboarding Survey

As you craft your onboarding survey, think about the insights you’d like to glean from participants. Successful onboarding questions might focus on the following topics:

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

Like employee engagement surveys, it's best to build an onboarding survey with a mix of open-ended and rating-scale questions so you can collect both quantitative and qualitative feedback. 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.

  • Rating-scale questions: Using rating scales makes it easier to collect, analyze, and subsequently act on employee feedback collected from your onboarding surveys. The first common scale type is a numerical scale, like asking respondents to rate the accuracy of a statement from 1 to 5. The second is the Likert Scale, which has options ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”
  • Open-ended questions: Since they cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” response, open-ended questions elicit explanations from respondents. This method of gathering feedback allows you to hear from your employees directly and better understand the reasoning behind their ratings. 

As with any survey, 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. 

Sample Employee Onboarding Survey Questions

To form an effective onboarding survey, we recommend asking different types of questions that aim to gather qualitative and quantitative data about various points in your employee onboarding experience.

Below is a mix of rating-scale and open-ended sample questions — arranged by onboarding phases — that you can use in your onboarding feedback survey.

Questions About the Recruitment Process

First, consider asking new employees about their experience during the recruitment and interview process with your company. The following questions can help you evaluate how the first part of the hiring process felt for them.

Rating-Scale Recruitment Questions Open-Ended Recruitment Questions
“I felt the interview process allowed me to showcase my skills and experience well.” “What did you think of your recruitment experience?”
“The length of the interview process was just right.” “How soon after your interview(s) did you hear back from our hiring team?”
“I found the company’s employee benefits package easy to understand.” “How competitive did you feel the compensation offer you received was?”

Questions About the Pre-Onboarding Experience

Next, consider asking about employees’ experiences before their first day. These can include questions about paperwork, team communication prior to their start date, and more.

Rating-Scale Pre-Onboarding Questions Open-Ended Pre-Onboarding Questions
“I was given a clear understanding of our onboarding process in advance.” “How difficult was it to complete your new hire paperwork?”
“I received the materials I needed for onboarding promptly, without having to ask.” “What could we have done before your start date to make you feel more welcome?”

Questions About First Day Experience

Once employees have started at your company, questions about their first day on the job can give you an idea of the initial impression your company gives. Consider asking questions like the following:

Rating-Scale First-Day Questions Open-Ended First-Day Questions
“I had a clear idea of what to do (and where to go) on my first day.” “How easy was it to get started with the software and tools needed for your job?”
“The team did their best to make me feel welcome ahead of my first day.” “How could your first day have been improved?”
“The HR team was readily available for any questions or concerns.” “What actions, if any, proved that your manager was ready for your first day?”

Questions to Ask After the First Two Weeks

After new team members have had a few weeks to settle in, they may be able to identify issues with more clarity than before. Gathering additional onboarding feedback from new hires after their first weeks can offer your company valuable insights.

Rating-Scale Questions After Two Weeks Open-Ended Questions After Two Weeks
“I clearly understand what is expected from me in my current role.” “Is the assistance you’ve been receiving helpful or a distraction?”
“I feel like I have a deep understanding of the company culture.” “How satisfied are you working for our company?”
“I have all the resources I need to be successful in my role.” “What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered so far?”

Questions to Ask After the First Three Months

Once new hires reach the end of their first quarter at your company, they’ve likely gained more confidence in and understanding of their role. When asked the right questions, recent hires can reflect on their employee onboarding experience and how well it prepared them for the duties they faced in their first months on the job.

Rating-Scale Questions for Three Months In Open-Ended Questions for Three Months in
“The training I received prepared me for my job.” “Is your role what you expected it to be?”
“I have all the resources I need to be successful in my role.” “Would you recommend our company to friends and family? Why or why not?”

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.

Why Onboarding Surveys Are Important 

Even if you think your organization already does an excellent job of preparing new employees for their careers, employee feedback can always help you refine your program further. Since new hires are hearing and seeing your onboarding content for the first time, they might catch something you missed.

Your new employees’ 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 onboarding experience and even reduce employee turnover at your organization. 

1. Employee feedback matters.

According to a 2022 Perceptyx study of 600 organizations, companies that regularly ask for and act on employee feedback are three times more likely to hit or exceed financial targets than those that don’t. When employees’ opinions are valued and acted upon, productivity and profitability follow. Surveys can be useful at all stages of the employee lifecycle, including during onboarding.

The feedback new hires share in onboarding surveys can help your business shape the overall employee experience, which, when done right, can help improve engagement, productivity, and employee retention

2. Successful onboarding helps retention.

While creating a strong onboarding program might seem like a no-brainer, not all companies execute it well. As a 2022 Paychex survey of 1,002 employed Americans uncovered, only 52% of new hires felt satisfied with the onboarding experience at their job.

Sure, reviewing company policies, leading on-the-job training, and offering new hire buddies can help your employees start on their career paths with your company, but these factors are often not enough to help employees feel prepared to begin their new roles.

Per the Paychex survey, 80% of employees who felt undertrained following their onboarding program planned to quit soon. But when onboarding sets employees up for success, they’re less likely to jump ship. That same study found that only 7% of employees who felt well-trained after onboarding planned to leave their jobs soon, while 70% said they planned to stay.

Benefits of a Strong Onboarding Survey

Onboarding surveys are important because they allow you to listen to your new hires, understand their needs, and address areas of improvement for future employee onboarding processes. Having an open line of communication with your newest employees can keep you abreast of these changes and provide you with actionable ways you can evolve your orientation program.

Strong onboarding surveys can help you refine your onboarding program to keep employees around. With questions poised to garner feedback about the employee experience, a good onboarding survey helps you get a pulse on employee sentiment. When you put this feedback to use in improving your onboarding programs, you can work to eliminate factors that limit retention rates and keep employees from delivering their best work.

For example, a good onboarding survey can tell you whether employees have received enough instruction for their roles. If recent hires are confused in their new jobs, a strong onboarding survey would help you pinpoint exactly which elements of the onboarding experience were lacking. If feedback shows they never received a complete job description, for example, you would know to adjust pre-onboarding procedures to prevent that from happening again.

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.

Lattice empowers you to automate onboarding, exit, and regular engagement surveys with ease.

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.