Are you looking for tips and advice on how to design an employee onboarding survey?

The employee onboarding process is critical for helping new employees feel integrated into the organisation. As such, onboarding surveys are an essential part of creating an effective onboarding process that helps new employees feel welcomed and informed about their new role and the company. In this post we outline how to design an effective employee onboarding survey.

What are onboarding surveys?

Employee Onboarding Surveys (sometimes called onboarder surveys or new starter surveys) are designed to help you measure the experience employees have in the early days of their time with the company.

Measuring the experience of new employees is a critical part of improving employee retention.

What are the benefits of onboarding surveys?

1. Onboarding survey are efficient ways to gather feedback

Onboarding surveys provide a platform for new employees to share their feedback on the onboarding process, including what they found helpful, what they didn’t like, and what could be improved.

This feedback can help organisations understand what works and what doesn’t in the onboarding process, and make improvements based on employee input.

2. Onboarding surveys are good for measuring the effectiveness of the onboarding process

Onboarding surveys can be used to measure the effectiveness of the onboarding process.

By asking new employees specific questions about their experience, organisations can identify areas where the onboarding process could be improved to make it more effective.

3. Onboarding surveys lead to improved engagement

Onboarding surveys can help new employees feel valued and engaged.

When employees see that their feedback is taken seriously and acted upon, they are more likely to feel connected to the organisation and motivated to contribute to its success.

4. Onboarding surveys lead to improved retention

A positive onboarding experience can lead to increased employee retention.

When new employees feel welcomed and supported, they are more likely to stay with the organisation for the long term.

What are the disadvantages of onboarding surveys?

1. Survey fatigue

New employees may feel overwhelmed by the number of surveys they receive during the onboarding process.

It’s essential to keep the survey brief and focused to avoid overwhelming employees and leading to low response rates.

It’s also useful to consider how your onboarding survey will link to any other surveys you have in place.

2. Limited response rates

Some new employees may not be motivated to complete the survey or may not have the time to do so, leading to low response rates.

However, new employees tend to be more motivated than leavers so response rates for onboarding surveys should be fairly high.

3. Biased responses

New employees may be hesitant to provide negative feedback, fearing it may impact their employment status or future opportunities within the organisation.

It’s essential to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for employees to provide honest feedback.

4. Unstructured feedback

Open-ended survey questions can provide valuable insights into the onboarding process, but they can also result in unstructured feedback that may be challenging to categorise and analyse. However, keep reading for our advice on how to design an effective onboarding survey!

First, define what you are trying to achieve with your onboarding survey

One of our other blog posts covers the first two key steps in how to design an effective employee survey so we won’t repeat it here. These steps include:

Typically, onboarder surveys are used where organisations are seeing high levels of employee turnover within the first few months. In other words, there is a pattern where new employees are leaving the organisation quicker than would normally be expected.

This obviously creates a huge amount of cost and leads to a real lack of continuity in the how organisation goes about its business. Imagine a school where teachers leave within the first few months of joining. It would cause huge disruption to children’s learning.

Once you are clear on the business case and purpose of your onboarding survey you can start to think about designing the content.

Identify the themes you want to measure in your employee onboarding survey

Once you are clear on the purpose of your onboarding survey, the next step is to outline the main themes you want to measure.

For onboarding surveys we advise considering three broad themes:

Use your onboarding survey to measure the initial onboarding experience

As we have already outline, the onboarding experience begins the moment the employee applied for their job. The key areas to measure in the initial onboarding experience are:

  • aspects of the recruitment process
  • the initial impression of joining the company

Use your onboarding survey to evaluate the induction programme

Induction training is an essential part of the onboarding process. Induction training is usually the formal process of providing new employees with all of the information they need in their early days with the organisation.

Induction training will normally cover things such as:

  • the history of the organisation
  • the organisation’s vision, mission, values and goals
  • a tour of the buildings and facilities
  • admin and logistical things such as how to access the buildings, security protocols etc.
  • an overview of key benefits
  • introductions to key colleagues in the team and in other departments
  • training on how to use essential equipment and systems etc.

Use your onboarding survey to measure overall engagement

We hope that all new employees start with a high level of engagement! However, our data shows that engagement levels can drop in new employees in as little as one month, especially if the initial onboarding and induction experience is not up to the mark.

As such, it can be useful to establish a measure of how engaged new employees are and to identify any particular organisational behaviours that might be impacting engagement in the early phases of someone’s time with the organisation.

It will also be useful to measure this several times during the onboarding process so we tend to advise that you send out your onboarding survey more than once during each employee’s first few months with the organisation.

There are several elements you should consider when measuring employee engagement. The most common areas that you will find in most employee engagement surveys are shown in our model of engagement:

You should also aim to establish an overall measure of how engaged new starters are by using something such as an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS).

Define the specific questions to include in your onboarding survey

We recommend three types of questions to include in your onboarding survey:

Demographic questions enable you to collecting information about things such as age, gender, job role etc. These questions are useful to explore if there are any specific issues that are causing dissatisfaction in specific groups of employees.

Quantitative questions ask people to rate how they feel about their experience using a rating scale. There are different types of rating scale, but the most common one is the Likert rating scale where people are asked how much they would tend to agree or disagree with each survey question.

Qualitative questions are open-ended questions where people are asked to provide their opinions in their own words. They are usually in the form of a free-text question and are useful for allowing people to provide feedback on anything they want.

Example Onboarding Survey questions

Here are some example questions to include in your new starter survey:

Example questions to measure the initial onboarding experience

  • The length of time it took to go through the recruitment process was acceptable
  • Communication from the organisation was good following my application
  • The length of time it took to go through the recruitment process felt about right
  • It was easy to contact the organisation with any questions I had
  • I felt my manager was prepared for my arrival
  • My manager welcomed me and helped me to integrate into the team
  • I felt welcomed by my colleagues
  • Is there anything we could have done that would have made your experience better?

Example questions to measure the induction process

  • I received a thorough induction when I joined the company
  • My induction prepared me to do my job well
  • The information provided in the induction training was high quality
  • The amount of time allocated to my induction and training so far has been adequate
  • As a result of my induction so far, I feel equipped to integrate into the organisation and perform in my role
  • Are there any changes you would suggest to how the induction training is done?

Example questions to measure engagement levels in new starters

  • Overall, how are you feeling about working for the organisation at the moment?
  • I have received a high level of support during my first week or so with the organisation
  • The job was what I expected when I first joined
  • I feel that my line manager checks in with me regularly to see how I am feeling
  • I feel my line manager/supervisor has been supportive during my time with the organisation so far
  • I feel the organisation has a genuine concern for my safety and wellbeing
  • I am aware of the benefits and well-being initiatives available to me
  • Most days I look forward to going to work
  • I see myself as having a future with the organisation
  • I would recommend the organisation as a place to work based on my early experiences

In conclusion

An effective onboarding survey will help your organisation gather feedback from new employees in a structured format that will enable you to identify any parts of the employee experience that could be improved.