How to run an employee onboarding survey

TL;DR: A good onboarding journey is critical for employee success and retention, and onboarding surveys can help you optimize these processes. A well-thought-out employee onboarding survey will allow you to continuously gauge your new hires’ satisfaction with your onboarding process and pinpoint areas for improvement.

Why should you conduct employee onboarding surveys?

As remote work calls for particularly transparent processes, documentation, and communication, companies are now finally looking closely at their onboarding programs. 

But onboarding always mattered. It is the foundation for conveying to your new hire that what you said about your company culture during the hiring process is genuine, establishing trust. 

New hires rely on structured onboarding to thrive in their new roles, especially considering remote circumstances. Sadly, only 12% of employees surveyed by Gallup strongly agree that their companies have a great onboarding process. Those same people are 2.6 times more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace than those who aren’t as happy with their onboarding experience. What’s more, only 29% of new hires feel fully supported and set up for success in their role. 

So if you care about increasing retention and creating high-performing teams, you should work to improve onboarding at your company. But where to start? 

First, follow the steps outlined in our playbook on onboarding remote employees; these practices will help you even if you’re not a remote-first company. 

Second, invest in onboarding surveys to continuously gain insights into upgrading your onboarding program and aligning it with your company culture — and the promises you make to the people you hire. Lastly, consider implementing employee onboarding software to structure and automate the onboarding process.

Implementing employee onboarding surveys is easier than you might think. Keep reading this playbook, and we’ll tell you all you need to know.

Remember, keeping your remote employees engaged doesn’t stop after the onboarding. Continuously check in with your team by asking them questions tailored toward remote work during engagement surveys.

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Wann Sie dieses Playbook verwenden sollten

When to use
this playbook

This playbook should be an ongoing initiative within your onboarding journey (whether remote or not). If you’re invested in a people-first company culture and want to improve employee retention, send out these surveys to all company joiners each month.

Keep digging into the data to access more insights into how you can make your organization’s onboarding experience even better.

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Was Sie für dieses Playbook benötigen

What you’ll need for
this playbook

A system for running surveys 

Surveys should be a fundamental part of your onboarding process, so consider investing in employee onboarding software to run your company’s surveys smoothly and gain actionable insights.

Although you can use paper, PDFs, or decentralized tools, an employee survey platform like Leapsome can help you with analytics, multiplying the benefits of running surveys.

Hinweise & Tipps
  • Surveys should be anonymous, and your employees must know that their privacy is protected (so ensure that happens). Otherwise, you would risk insincere responses — or no responses at all.
  • Although your survey should be anonymous, you might want to know which departments or seniority levels are most responsive. This can help you understand how to get everyone involved and pick up on potential issues.
  • Your surveys might uncover uncomfortable truths. Be open and willing to listen. Don’t forget that the goal is to better your company and provide current and future employees with an improved experience (which will likely increase retention).
  • If you only have one person joining in a month, you might be able to guess their comments. But be respectful and don’t expose them.

    And you may also consider waiting another month to send out the survey, so more people might respond at the same time.
  • If this is your first survey, ask colleagues to help you test it. This way, you can assess if something is confusing and improve the wording.

How to run this People Ops Playbook:

Wie Sie dieses People Ops Playbook durchführen:

1. Decide when to send out onboarding surveys

According to organizational designers, onboarding happens in the first year of the employee lifecycle. But don’t wait too long to send out an onboarding survey.

Most companies leverage onboarding surveys to understand how the first chapters of the employee lifecycle are unfolding and how to optimize them; so they focus on topics like:

  • Orientation process;
  • Technical setup;
  • Knowledge transfer;
  • Role clarity and expectations;
  • Manager support;
  • Likelihood to stay.

You’ll want these topics, impressions, and onboarding initiatives to be fresh on your new hire’s mind, so we suggest running these surveys within people’s first two months at the company.

If using a survey platform like Leapsome to prevent you from drowning in paperwork, the survey will be automatically triggered based on each employee’s start date.

2. Choose your survey’s questions

Determine the number of questions for your survey (consider keeping it short) and work on those questions.

Some recommended employee onboarding survey questions are:

  • I feel welcome here.
  • The training or onboarding process helped me get started in my new role.
  • I know how my work supports the goals of [company].
  • I have all the resources I need to perform in my new job.
  • My current understanding of the role matches the description provided to me.
  • I understand what is expected of me in this role.
  • I still feel like this is a great role for me.
  • Open question: How would you describe the experience so far since you started your job here?
  • Open question: What could we have done to improve your onboarding experience?

You may also refer to our downloadable survey template with best-practice questionnaires on 22 categories for more questions. 

If creating new questions, keep in mind that they should be measurable. Although a platform with advanced people analytics can provide sentiment analysis for qualitative answers, quantitative data makes for clearer tracking.

3. Invite participants and share the information they need

Implementing onboarding surveys shows that your organization values feedback and open communication, so take the lead by sending, along with the questions/survey invitation, information on:

  • The purpose of the survey;
  • How much time would be needed to fill it out;
  • A deadline for participation;
  • Anonymity. Clarify that participation is anonymous — and of course, make sure that anonymity is guaranteed (which you can easily do with Leapsome);
  • How you intend to use these results. Employees know when there’s no practical purpose for a survey. In such cases, survey fatigue rises, and the response rate plummets.

    Communicate that the organization intends to act upon survey responses to improve its onboarding program.

4. Send out reminders to increase participation

Don’t be forceful, as that could lead to participants skimming over the survey — then, you’d have unreliable results.

But don’t be afraid to remind your new hires that surveys are essential to give them a great employee experience.

A best-practice tip is to use multiple internal communications channels to share these reminders. E.g., chat, email, automated reminders via Leapsome. You can also ask managers to nudge their new reports during 1:1s.

Follow-up best practices for running an employee onboarding survey

Dig into the data

This is how you’ll understand what’s most crucial and flag key insights. Without interpreting quantitative and qualitative responses, you’ll have plenty of data, but no way to inform an action plan.

A tool with advanced people analytics can even analyze qualitative responses, offering a sentiment analysis and action plan suggestions.‍

Take action

Running a survey is not enough: It’s time to use the insights you’ve gathered and take action! Consider ways the company can improve its onboarding processes and list priority actions. Set ownership for each initiative and make them time-bound.

Check in with your new employee & remain available

Check in with your new hires from time to time to find out how they’re doing. Make it clear that you’re happy to answer questions and address concerns.

⭐️ Would you also like to learn how to run other types of surveys? We’ve got you covered: Check out our playbooks on running employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys, diversity surveys, and exit surveys.  😉 

Easily automate your onboarding surveys with Leapsome

Leapsome is the only platform that closes the loop between performance management, employee engagement, and learning. 

Watch this video to learn how you can use Leapsome to automate your surveys, ensuring that all employees receive their survey at the right time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are onboarding surveys anonymous?

Yes. But until you have a bigger pool of respondents, be extra careful with sharing information with managers and other employees — especially qualitative data.

Be mindful that, until several people have filled out onboarding surveys, it might be possible to guess the origin of responses. Don’t try to identify respondents, and don’t jeopardize anonymity (and the trust your people have in the process).

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