4 ways to measure the success of your onboarding process

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3 mins, 43 secs read time

You’ve seen them laughing along with their coworkers during the CEO’s impromptu karaoke performance at the company all-hands, heading out to grab coffee with the resident caffeine addicts, and dominating the rec room ping pong court with a killer backhand. So as best as you can tell, your new hires seem happy and engaged.

These external factors may be telling, but they’re probably not things you can jot down in your onboarding program’s monthly progress reports. Instead, you need hard evidence to assess the success of your onboarding process and justify the time and resources allotted to it.

So, in your pursuit of building a strong onboarding program that truly immerses new employees into the company and their roles, make sure to follow these 4 steps:

Step 1: Create a new hire experience that’s consistent and repeatable

At many organizations, there tends to be confusion over who really “owns” onboarding, and what, exactly, the process should entail. Some believe HR should own onboarding, while others believe it’s the responsibility of the direct manager. Then there are some companies that adopt a hybrid approach, where HR handles some tasks and the direct managers handle others. Further, some believe that onboarding stops after day 1 or 2, while others believe that it’s a longer, more robust process.

On that note, it’s important for you to understand just how onboarding is viewed at your company. Take a quick survey of managers in your company to see how onboarding is handled in their department. Do you get consistent answers? If not, take note. This is where you need to take action and provide a consistent experience from now on. You want to get everyone on the same page.

At many organizations, onboarding is a labor-intensive process that relies on manual tasks, like email and in-person meetings. This means that each new person or group of people requires a comparable amount of time and energy—the process never really becomes more efficient.

Have you measured how much time it takes you to onboard a new hire? If not, be sure to track those numbers for a few months. Try to identify places where you can streamline the process and ways that you can save time for yourself and everyone who’s involved.

Step 2: Customize, customize, customize

It may sound like customization contradicts the previous point about consistency, but it doesn’t have to. The ideal onboarding program should be consistent, but also allow for flexibility in each department and role. One of the big mistakes employers make is to shoehorn all employees into a “one size fits all” approach. But this doesn’t work – there are varying wants and needs of departments, locations, managers, and employees.

So, ask yourself: Which aspects of your onboarding process should be consistent for everyone and which should be customizable by department, location, or manager? You may wish to work with all onboarding stakeholders to reach a consensus. Consider how you will communicate this to managers and continue to ensure overall consistency.

Step 3: Seek feedback from new hires

One of your greatest resources for insight into your onboarding program is the new hires themselves. A one-off positive comment or occasional piece of feedback is useful, but you’ll get much more benefit from a formal feedback mechanism.

Many employers make this an official part of the onboarding process and ask new hires to fill out a survey at the end of their orientation, at the 30- or 60-day mark, or at other significant points during their tenure.

Whether it’s an anonymous survey or a one-on-one interview, make sure you use the opportunity to learn what’s working and what isn’t.

Step 4: Measure your retention rate

What is the average length of time an employee stays at your company? How do these numbers look by department, manager, or location? How have changes to your onboarding/orientation affected those numbers?

It’s definitely worth tracking the average tenure of employees. Try to identify the key points where their flight risk is greater. Then you can begin to implement feedback surveys and other retention-boosting techniques slightly earlier.

Closing thoughts

You’ve put a lot of time and effort into hiring and onboarding new employees. Use these suggestions to make sure that all your efforts are paying off and identify any areas for improvement. And hey, even if you can’t put an exact number on smiles and good vibes, this is a step in that direction.

Want more information about building an onboarding process that you can measure? Be sure to download our eBook, New Hire Onboarding Guide.

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Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.