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The Brief Guide To Collecting Employee Feedback During Onboarding

9 min read
Last Updated on 07 April, 2021
The Brief Guide To Collecting Employee Feedback During Onboarding

Last September, we talked about the importance of collecting employee feedback — and how to effectively do so.

To be sure, engaging with your long-time employees will benefit your business in a number of ways:

  • Improves individual and team-wide productivity
  • Increases employee enthusiasm, satisfaction, and loyalty
  • Strengthens your team’s overall culture

But, you should also be focused on collecting feedback from your new employees throughout the onboarding process.

This is exactly what we’ll be discussing today.

Why You Should Collect Employee Feedback Throughout Onboarding (and Beyond)

The onboarding process is when your new employees begin to really learn about your organization.

It’s also when you can really get to learn about them — on both a professional and personal level.

That is, as long as you take advantage of the opportunity.

Let’s take a look at three key reasons to focus on collecting feedback from your new employees throughout the onboarding experience.

1. Optimize the Individual’s Onboarding Experiences

First things first, collecting feedback from a new hire will allow you to improve the onboarding experience for that specific employee.

This just makes sense: By understanding what’s going well (and what isn’t) for the individual, your onboarding team can make laser-focused improvements to their experience moving forward.

For a given employee, you might need to:

  • Review and focus on a specific process they’re struggling with
  • Pair them with an expert on your team to help them through a certain procedure
  • Deliver additional information and/or resources to supercharge their efforts

By keeping in touch with your new hires throughout their onboarding experience, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done to help them at any given moment. According to SHRM, providing this structure throughout the onboarding process can improve employee engagement by up to 54%.

Conversely, taking a “hands-off” approach to employee onboarding can potentially cause friction throughout a new hire’s initial experiences within your organization.

Collecting feedback from your new hires, then, is essential for creating an agile, personalized onboarding process for all that come aboard.

2. Improve Your Overall Onboarding Process

Collecting feedback from your new hires can also help you make improvements to your onboarding processes, as well.

In fact, SHRM also reports that developing a more strategic, standardized onboarding process leads to 50% higher productivity levels from new hires.

Here, the idea is to understand where your new hires typically thrive — and where they struggle — along their onboarding journey. In addition to making improvements in real-time (as mentioned above), this will enable you to make sweeping changes to your onboarding process to ensure a smoother experience for all new hires moving forward.

By improving your employee onboarding experience, your new hires will require less assistance from your management staff throughout. This, in turn, means your team will have more time, money, and energy to invest in your new hires when they do require additional support.

3. Set New Employees Up for Success

One of the main goals of the employee onboarding process is to ensure your new hires can be productive in their new position.

More than just helping them get acclimated with your team’s processes, though, the onboarding experience also serves to “initiate” your new employees into your organization.

Done well, this can set the stage for a successful career with your company.

According to BambooHR:

  • 89% of new hires that receive effective onboarding feel strongly integrated into the company culture
  • 91% of those who received effective onboarding feel strongly connected to their team
  • Employees who go through an effective onboarding experience are 18 times more likely to commit themselves to their new organization

By staying in close contact with your new hires throughout the onboarding process, you prove your dedication to their success — and to their overall satisfaction. You’ll also be able to connect them with others within your team, allowing them to become immersed in your company culture from the get-go.

This all adds up to a clear recipe for success for your newly onboarded team members.

6 Effective Strategies for Collecting Employee Feedback During the Onboarding Process

Now that we understand just how important it is to collect employee feedback throughout the onboarding process, let’s now talk about how to make it happen.

1. Ask for Relevant and Specific Feedback

Collecting generic feedback simply won’t allow you to make meaningful improvements to the onboarding experience.

That said, you need to be sure the feedback you collect is focused on a specific part of the onboarding process. This means the questions you ask (and other conversation starters) need to be just as specific.

Here, you’ll need to break down the onboarding process into “phases”. Typically, you’ll want to focus on the tasks your employees completed at different points along their journey. For example, you’ll want the employee to discuss their experiences while learning to use your computer system, engaging with their new team members, filling out paperwork — and more.

More than just focusing on specific parts of the process, you’ll want to dig into specific aspects of each of these parts.

In focusing on a certain task, you might ask them questions relating to:

  • How easy or difficult it was to complete the task
  • What was challenging about it
  • How well the task or exercise prepared them for the next step in the onboarding process

You’ll also want to understand how your instructions, as well as any supplemental content you’d provided, helped them accomplish these tasks.

  • Was the information helpful?
  • Was the content comprehensive and digestible?
  • Were they able to find the info/content they needed?

Similarly, ask your new hires to discuss the level of support they were given at each step of the onboarding process. Here, you’ll want to focus on both the tools they were provided and the hands-on guidance they received — and how each played a part in helping them accomplish their assigned tasks.

Finally, as your new hires begin to wrap up their initial onboarding experience (and as they dive into the “real work” associated with their position), you can start collecting feedback regarding:

  • How well the experience prepared them for their workload
  • How the experience met (or didn’t meet) their expectations
  • How the experience allowed them to engage with their new colleagues

Again, the goal is to avoid having a generic discussion with your new hires — and get them to dig into the specifics of their initial experiences with your company.

In turn, you’ll be able to focus on these specific parts of the onboarding experience — and ensure your future hires are even more prepared to hit the ground running.

2. Ask for Feedback at the Right Moment(s)

Eliciting accurate, high-quality feedback from your new hires requires that you ask for it at just the right time.

Basically, you want to reach out when the information and experience is fresh in their minds. Otherwise, they might provide feedback that’s inaccurate, incomplete, or otherwise unusable.

Thinking high-level, you’ll want to touch base with your new hires on a regular, recurring basis. Weekly check-ins can provide insight into their most recent onboarding experiences — as well as their overall experiences up until that point.

As you collect this feedback over time, you’ll gain a clearer idea of how their onboarding experience is progressing — and how it’s preparing them for their future with your company.

You’ll also want to reach out for feedback at key moments throughout the onboarding process.

A few examples:

  • When the new hire reaches a certain milestone (e.g., completes a “big picture” task)
  • When a task proves to be challenging (e.g., they fail to complete a task within a certain time limit)
  • When they reach out for assistance or support

It’s important to reach out as near to these crucial moments as possible. As mentioned, you want to collect fresh, accurate, and in-depth feedback from your new hire. Moreover, you want to be able to make immediate improvements to your new employee’s onboarding experience based on the feedback they’ve given.

Don’t wait until the onboarding experience is over before you collect feedback from your new hires. Rather, make collecting feedback a routine part of the experience as a whole — and start putting the information you gather to immediate use.

3. Be Clear, Quick, and Concise

While collecting feedback throughout the onboarding process is important, it shouldn’t distract your new employees from the task at hand.

This is why pulse surveys are such an invaluable tool.

By implementing pulse surveys, you can quickly get to the heart of the matter — and allow your employees to respond just as quickly.

As we talked about earlier, your goal is to ask focused questions on relevant experiences and issues. This will ensure the responses you get provide accurate, valuable information that can be used to improve your onboarding processes moving forward.

Pulse surveys typically ask respondents to choose between a set of given answers for each question asked. This aims to minimize the time spent responding to each question, again ensuring your new hires can get back to their onboarding tasks.

Even during more intensive feedback sessions, it’s still crucial to be as clear and concise as possible with your questioning. If your surveys cause respondents to become distracted or fatigued in any way, they may end up providing less-than-accurate responses — which defeats the purpose of collecting feedback in the first place.

Overall, your goal is to develop surveys and feedback forms that allow your new hires to respond with minimal hesitation while also providing valuable information to your onboarding team.

4. Dive Deeper When Appropriate or Necessary

With the above in mind, there will be times that you’ll want your new hires to extrapolate on the feedback they provide.

A few example scenarios:

  • A new hire encounters a major roadblock in their onboarding experience
  • A new employee has a subpar experience with a member of the onboarding team
  • A respondent has a bit more to say about a certain part of their experience thus far

While you should certainly listen to what the employee has to say, you need to be sure that the information they provide will allow you to make improvements to their (and other new hires’) onboarding experience.

So, you’ll need to be strategic in your approach, here.

  • First, set aside a time to meet with the employee in which you’ll be focusing on the issue at hand — and this issue alone. This will keep things from going off-track and will ensure that the time is spent wisely on all fronts.

  • It’s also important to involve the right people — that is, those who are directly involved with the part of the onboarding process in focus. With these team members, you can develop lines of questioning that will elicit insightful and useful responses from your new hires.

  • Finally, consider the best channels and formats to use when soliciting this additional info. Here, you’ll be looking for a balance between your respondent’s preferences, and the most efficient means of communicating the information you’re looking for.

Ideally, you won’t need to go too in-depth when collecting this feedback — and you hopefully won’t need to do so all that often. Still, when it’s clear that valuable insight can be gleaned from your new hires, it’s important to have a clear strategy for collecting it.

5. Set the Stage for Your Employee’s Next Steps

As we discussed earlier, your two main goals for collecting employee feedback throughout the onboarding process are:

  • To improve the individual employee’s experiences with your team
  • To improve your overall onboarding process for future employees

As you collect this feedback, it’s vital that the individuals you collect it from understanding these goals from the start. And, it’s even more crucial that they actually see how their feedback led to improvements — both for themselves and for future members of your organization.

To be blunt:

This is not about giving “lip service” to those who provide valuable feedback to your team.

Rather, it’s about being intentional in your approach, and actually involving those who provide feedback in the process of improving your onboarding processes.

We’ve already talked about the importance of digging deeper with certain employees on an as-needed basis. But, more than just asking for more info, you should also be soliciting practical advice from them — and bringing them into the fold as you make the suggested improvements.

This will lead to tangible improvements for those who have provided feedback throughout their onboarding experience. On top of that, it will also show these new employees that your team is invested in and dedicated to their success within your organization.

In turn, your new employees will become more invested in their own growth — and are likely to stay loyal to your company well into the future.

6. Transform Employee Feedback Into Organizational Knowledge

This goes along with the last section:

The feedback you collect from your new hires isn’t just valuable at that moment. Rather, this knowledge can be shared to make impactful improvements to your employee onboarding processes, overall.

That is, as long as you properly document and integrate it into your organization’s collective knowledge.

This is where knowledge management and an internal knowledge base come in.

As you collect feedback from your employees, you’ll want to analyze and assess it alongside everything you already know. By properly contextualizing this new information, you’ll not only build on your organization’s current knowledge — but will also squeeze more value out of the additional info you’ve collected.

Your new hires should also be involved in this process of documenting new organizational knowledge. For one thing, it will ensure that their feedback is communicated in full, and is interpreted accurately.

Moreover, it will place them in a more integral position within your team — which, once again, will put them on a clear path to success from the very start of their career with your company.

What's Next?

Vantage Circle’s powerful employee survey tool, Vantage Pulse, allows you to quickly and easily collect feedback from your new hires and current employees — and helps you analyze trends and create meaningful feedback loops.

Schedule a demo to learn more about how we can help improve your employee onboarding experience and get your new employees started on the right foot.

This article is written by Emil Hajric who is the founder and CEO of Helpjuice – a powerful knowledge base solution that can be used to help onboard new hires. Emil is an organizational learning expert & author of Knowledge Management: A Theoretical and Practical Guide for Knowledge Management in Your Organization. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com.