What are the most important onboarding metrics?
The five best ways to measure onboarding success are: New hires’ job satisfaction, time to productivity, overall morale, employee turnover, and hiring managers’ performance.Since the pandemic began in early 2020, businesses have struggled to predict what the job market will do next.
In the pandemic’s earliest days, widespread shutdowns resulted in staggering job losses—followed by economic stimulus that ushered in the Great Resignation, a mass exodus as workers fled their old jobs for greener pastures. Fast forward to 2022, and businesses are facing record inflation, continuing supply chain stumbles, and a wave of layoffs in the tech sector, even as job growthremains on the rise in other industries.
To call what’s been happening “churn” would be putting it too mildly.
Across the nation, HR managers are coping with staffing challenges in an unforgiving economic landscape. New employees who landed job offers during the stimulus-fueled hiring frenzy need onboarding that gets them up to speed, working productively, and feeling positive about their choice in employer. And for employees hired more recently, there’s even more pressure to drive immediate impact.
In this article, we’ll look at five critical onboarding metrics that will help you measure how well your onboarding process is preparing new hires—and where you might need to make changes.
Why Is Onboarding Important?
In a nutshell, the stakes are high. Studies show that effective onboarding speeds new hires’ time-to-productivity and reduces the number of employees who quit within their first three to six months.
By comparison, lackluster onboarding can result in costly turnover and subpar work. When Gallup surveyed new employees, only one-third of new hires felt ready for their new roles after onboarding.
New hires who rated their onboarding experience as “exceptional” were more than 2.5x as likely to consider their place of work “extremely satisfying.”
Even as the average tenure of a U.S. employee hovers around 4.1 years, HR is under pressure to maximize investment in new hires and prevent costly turnover. Effective onboarding helps you retain your best employees, reduce churn, avoid disruption in the workplace, and save time.
Onboarding Technology Makes It Simple to Track Metrics
What gets measured gets managed. Modern businesses rely on onboarding technology that automates tasks and compiles critical data, making it simple to measure effectiveness.
Onboarding technology can streamline paperwork and manual processes including:
- New hire paperwork
- Personalized welcome emails
- IT checklists
- Welcome packets
- Policy training
- Automated deadline reminders
- Secure employee data management
When you don’t have to waste time printing out paperwork or crafting reminder emails, you’ll have the bandwidth to help new hires forge a deeper connection with the company, its people, and its mission.
If you aren’t tracking onboarding metrics — or simply don’t know how — you’ll risk losing time and money. But even worse, you’ll risk making a poor impression with new hires, which can hurt employee retention and morale over time.
1. Survey New Hires on Job Satisfaction
Employee satisfaction measures how favorably your people judge important factors in the workplace. Satisfied employees are more than simply happy; they’re pleased with their daily tasks, benefits, compensation, and more.
In addition to regular check-ins with managers, employee satisfaction questionnaires and targeted surveys will help you collect employee satisfaction data from new hires. Surveying new hires about job and workplace satisfaction, workplace expectations, and how your workplace compares to their ideal workplace can reveal gaps in your onboarding program.
For example, if new hires are dissatisfied with compensation opportunities, you could cover your company’s approach to pay and pay increases during onboarding. Or, you could improve explanations of your benefits package to better communicate your total compensation strategy.
A 2021 study by California State University, Northridge found that job satisfaction not only improves employee retention, but also boosts individual performance — suggesting that monitoring employee satisfaction metrics can bring short- and long-term benefits.
2. Track Time to Productivity
Time to productivity (TTP) measures how long it takes a new employee to become fully integrated with their team and functional in their job. An effective onboarding process will help new hires contribute to their team—and overall company goals—in a timely manner.
Measuring TTP usually involves a combination of objective benchmarks and a subjective assessment of how well your new hire is acclimating to the workplace. For example, you might expect a new sales team member to not only hit their monthly goals but also work independently within their first three months on the job.
Your overall onboarding success will directly affect TTP — but an expedited onboarding process doesn’t mean you’ll achieve better results.
Research by Gallup points out that many organizations misunderstand the purpose of onboarding, treating it as a “new employee orientation class” rather than “a process that helps employees get up to speed in their job and integrated into their new team and organization.”
In other words, a shorter onboarding process won’t necessarily decrease TTP. Instead, you should create an effective onboarding program that helps new employees achieve their full potential. This should include basic orientation tasks such as IT setup, but it should also provide role-specific training and activities that integrate new hires into your team.
3. Keep a Pulse on Overall Morale
As new hires join your team, it’s critical to monitor your employees’ morale, particularly during periods of rapid growth. Researchers at the University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12% more productive—and happy employees are also more likely to stay long term.
To measure morale, we recommend using anonymous surveys or interviews. For example, BambooHR’s Employee Satisfaction software allows you to collect anonymous survey data and open-ended feedback about how your employees are feeling. From there, you’ll get instant access to a research-backed employee engagement score. Learn more by requesting a demo or free trial today!
Measuring and tracking employee happiness is just the first step. If you find problems that are making employees unhappy, it’s important to get back on track before it impacts employee retention.
Employees who forge strong bonds with colleagues are more likely to feel happy at work. Regularly hosting team activities or encouraging random acts of kindness are great ways to foster friendly relationships between coworkers.
4. Measure Voluntary (and Involuntary) Turnover
Turnover rates are critical metrics to track as your company grows. And according to research by the Society for Human Resource Management, 52% of organizations believe that strong onboarding directly improves employee retention.
An unexpected spike in voluntary turnover is a clear sign of trouble—but it’s also one you may be able to avoid by regularly tracking metrics around employee satisfaction, engagement, and morale.
By contrast, involuntary turnover may indicate a recruiting problem. You might be hiring candidates who are unqualified for your needs or a poor culture fit.
In both cases, effective onboarding can help reduce employee turnover. Onboarding activities should:
- Provide a mentor who can coach performance
- Guide new hires through hands-on training
- Integrate new hires into your team culture
- Set clear goals and performance expectations
- Provide positive feedback for a job well done
- Clarify expectations around benefits, growth opportunities, and more
Even with a strong onboarding program, you’ll inevitably face employee departures. When employees leave, be sure to transition them through an offboarding process. Exit interviews and surveys can reveal critical insights that can help you identify opportunities for improvement.
5. Provide Performance Management for Managers
Finally, it’s critical to monitor performance metrics for the managers who are responsible for the daily tasks involved in onboarding.
If one manager has a higher employee turnover rate than other managers in your organization, that’s a red flag that something may be spoiling the manager’s relationship with their employees. After all, people don’t quit jobs, they quit bad bosses! Identifying and improving manager performance issues is time and effort well spent.
One way to find a solution is to analyze what other managers with low turnover rates are doing to maintain strong, positive ties with their employees. Not only could those best practices help your high-turnover manager do better, but if you incorporate them into a broader initiative for all managers they could help reduce turnover throughout your organization.
Effective Onboarding Creates Better First Days
A strong onboarding process will help new hires have a positive impact quickly and persuade them to stay long term. But unless you’re regularly tracking onboarding success metrics, you won’t know whether your strategy is working.
If you want to track onboarding metrics, we recommend:
- Keeping it consistent. Use the same onboarding process for all new hires. If you’re inconsistent, it will be difficult to extract anything meaningful from your results.
- Thinking of onboarding as a long-term relationship. While you’re educating new employees, they’re deciding whether or not joining your organization was the right choice. Choose metrics you can track through an employee’s entire tenure, such as employee engagement and satisfaction.