April 29th, 2016

So often in the recent decade, we have read reports revealing the impact new hire orientation programs have on new hires and organizations working on arriving at an effective program for their employees. But the million dollar question is “Is the new hire orientation program a success?”

Like any process, new hire orientation programs requires consistent measurement and reporting. Organizations can only reliably measure the impact and effectiveness, i.e. whether the new hire orientation program has achieved its objectives if relevant data is being captured at appropriate stages of the onboarding program.

Just as there is no one new hire orientation program that fits all, there is no one way to measure the effectiveness of the program. Factors influencing can be company size, employee demographics, business objectives, but most importantly identifying what needs to be measured and when.

Look at the larger picture

Here’s a hint. Measure those aspects that directly contribute to your business goals. Establish a baseline, which is more or less similar for most organizations – Rate of employee turnover or retention, time to productivity and employee satisfaction.  Once the areas to be measured are identified, integrate methods for periodic assessments into the onboarding program.

Numbers say it all – quantitative data

It is human tendency to associate numbers with every process, onboarding is no different. But which of these numbers help us determine the success of the onboarding programs?

1. The headache of the modern business – employee turnover
This critical figure helps you identify the success or an employer as well as the onboarding program as it is directly tied to the business goals of the organizations. Organizations can compare figures of the year gone against figures obtained as early as 3 months after the onboarding program is completed to avoid early-stage turnover.

2. Headcount Vs. output – performance and effectiveness
Time to productivity should be measured both at an individual level and team level. Organizations often assess a new hire based on the time taken by him to contribute to the team’s performance against the average 6.2 months, as stated in the book “The First 90 days” by Michael Watkins. However, assessing teams can take the “headcount vs. output” approach. For example, let’s take this scenario. If Today your team of 8 (comprising of a few new hires) completed a task in the designated time effectively as opposed to last year, when a similar team of 10 was required to complete the same task at the designated time, then it is obvious that not only has the time to productivity improved vastly, but have contributed to cutting costs as well. A simple tool to capture this data is to use an onboarding software product that suits the needs of your employees. Automated systems help capture data pertaining to performance, onboarding checklists, training schedules milestones etc of the new hire.

The Human element – Qualitative Data

Modern day new hire onboarding programs have digressed from focussing only on forms and tasks to the emotional aspects of employer-employee bonding. Hence the need for qualitative data. Onboarding managers’ need to conduct periodic assessments with the new hires and assess both employee and employer goals at intervals best suited to the team and the organization.

1. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may – Not to sound poetic, but this is exactly the point
The simplest of tasks when compared to the Himalayan challenges coming ahead, assess the needs and wants of the new hire early, as early as the pre-onboarding phase or the first week of joining. This information can be obtained by simply asking a few questions to the new hire and consulting the hiring manager. It is critical to plan the coming months of the new hire.

2. Is your new hire engaged?

The answer to this question clearly indicates the effectiveness and success of your new hire onboarding program. But, how do you actually measure if an employee is engaged enough?

Put together a survey of questions that relate to the new hire understanding of the following topics,

  1. the company culture and his job,
  2. his role in the team,
  3. His first likes and dislikes etc.
  4. Alignment With company goals

The timeline of when these assessments have to be conducted pay a crucial role in determining the success and will depend on the needs of the organization. For example, some employers will need to assess early engagement levels as soon as 30 days into the onboarding program.

3. Have you met the expectations of the new hire and vice versa?

After an early assessment of needs and wants, it is important to take feedback from the new hire. Schedule an informal meeting a few weeks into the onboarding program to discuss the new hire’s satisfaction regarding what has been provided to him. This may also be a good time to put forward the company’s expectations for the new hire.

4. Have the objectives of the Training programs been met?

The progress of training programs needs to be reviewed and assessed periodically. An integral part of any onboarding program, training through formal and informal learning help new hires reach proficiency levels.  Scheduling formal meetings and collecting feedback regarding these training programs help onboarding managers decide on how effective the training has been and if the approach needs to be changed.

5. Is the new hire a team player?

While an individual’s performance can be categorized as quantitative data, a new hire’s contribution to the morale of the team, proactive participation in sharing team responsibilities etc. is rather a qualitative metric that is critical for the success of an onboarding program. A feedback can be obtained from the new hire’s peers and managers to determine the new hire’s assimilation into his team.

6. Do exit interviews have a point?

As a Manager what frustrates you more, the fact that your best employee has resigned or that you do not know the actual reason for his resignation. This may not fall under the realm of onboarding programs, but as exit interviews are not of much value, employers can adopt stay interviews which are conducted during the course of the employees’ tenure with the company and can help employers cater to the needs and in turn help retain the employee.

Regardless of the tools and metrics involved in measuring the success of new hire orientation programs, it is important that both qualitative and quantitative data should corroborate. An onboarding manager should deduce similar conclusions from both sets of data gathered and then in lies the success of new hire orientation programs. How are you measuring the success of your new hire orientation program?