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12 of the most important questions for an onboarding survey

Onboarding is an important time in the employee experience, and a survey can give HR staff insight into how to improve the process. Learn more about what questions to add.

The onboarding process is the first time a new employee interacts with their company after completing the hiring process. An onboarding survey can help give HR leaders insight into whether their company is succeeding at this important part of the employee journey.

Feedback from these surveys can help identify areas for improvement, benchmark and track progress, and ensure the process evolves as needed. The feedback can also give insight into new employees' expectations for their role and the organization.

Learn some of the questions that can be valuable to include in an onboarding survey.

What is an onboarding survey?

An onboarding survey is a set of questions that enables employees to provide feedback about various aspects of the onboarding process. These questions typically cover topics including the employee's onboarding experience, their goals at the company, their role and responsibilities, their team, and their training needs.

HR departments can deliver onboarding surveys in a number of ways and in multiple parts. HR staff can send out an onboarding survey during onboarding, at the end of the onboarding process, or a few weeks into the new worker's tenure.

In some cases, HR leaders might opt to have a survey sent out during onboarding and a second survey delivered after the employee has been working at the organization for a certain period of time. This strategy enables HR departments to avoid overwhelming the new employee with a large amount of questions but ensures they are asking the employee about their experience when the onboarding is still fresh in their mind.

12 questions to include in an onboarding survey

Onboarding surveys usually include questions on a range of topics, and the type of questions to include depends on the company's goals. For example, if HR staff want to learn more about an employee's expectations of their role prior to joining the company, then they can add questions about that.

HR staff composing the questions should aim for a good mix of open-ended and rating scale questions and ensure the survey isn't too cumbersome for employees to complete.

Here are some questions to include in an onboarding survey.

1. On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your onboarding experience?

This is a good first question because it immediately gives insight into the employee's feelings about their onboarding.

HR staff could potentially set a goal of all onboarding scores from new employees being at or above a certain number. For example, an HR department's goal could be for all onboarding scores to be at seven or higher.

2. Is there anything about the onboarding process that you found particularly effective or ineffective?

This question gives insight into onboarding areas for improvement and areas in which the company is succeeding.

A potential rephrase is to ask the onboarded employee to suggest improvements to the process. Employee answers could yield new ideas about improvements.

3. Did you receive adequate information about company policies, culture, and values?

One of the key aspects of onboarding is providing employees with all the information they need to understand the organization and their role. Employees who are equipped with all the necessary information can hit the ground running when they start work.

HR staff should improve the onboarding process if new employees feel they did not receive enough information, as that can negatively affect employee experience.

4. How would you describe the company culture based on your initial experiences?

An organization's culture is crucial for optimum employee engagement, retention, and productivity. An employee's impressions of the company culture from their first interactions with the organization give insight into how well the company is succeeding at creating a good culture.

Potential follow-up questions include asking about the aspects of the organization's culture that the employee values the most and if there are any aspects of the organization's culture that they would change if they could.

5. Do you feel that the company's values and goals align with your own personal values?

Similar to company culture, a new employee's personal values aligning with the organization's values and goals can help with employee engagement and retention.

Employees increasingly look for this value fit when evaluating potential jobs, so an onboarding survey might reveal that the organization's values convinced a worker to apply for their new job.

6. What are your primary goals for your first 30/60/90 days in this role?

Understanding an employee's primary goals can help HR staff map out tasks and expectations for the employee and the employee's manager during the first period of the employee's employment. For example, if a new employee wants to get to know people in other departments during their first 30 days, their manager can schedule meetings.

Helping a new employee meet their initial goals helps ensure the worker is engaged and satisfied with their new role and organization.

HR staff can potentially change this question to a different period of time, such as three/six/twelve months, or ask about a longer period of time, such as the first two years at a job.

7. What are your career aspirations?

This question provides insight into the new employee's longer-term goals at the organization.

HR staff can use this feedback to create a career development plan for the employee. For example, if a new employee is interested in becoming a manager, HR can enroll them in a management training course.

8. Do you have a clear understanding of your role and responsibilities?

New hires must fully understand their role and responsibilities. If an employee responds that they do not have a clear understanding, then they must repeat certain parts of the onboarding process.

A potential follow-up question is asking about the alignment between communication about the job role during the hiring process and communication about the job during onboarding.

9. Have you been provided with everything you need to do your job?

Asking this question is important because starting a new role without, for example, a laptop or access to critical applications can be frustrating for employees. It can also lead to a lack of productivity.

Lack of communication between departments might also result in HR staff not realizing an employee lacks something important until the employee responds to the onboarding survey.

10. Have you had sufficient opportunities to connect and interact with your team?

New employees must have plenty of time to get acquainted with their new co-workers, and scheduling this time is particularly crucial in a remote work environment. The sooner a new employee can get to know their fellow team members, the sooner they can be productive within the group.

Potential follow-up questions include asking about the level of support the employee has received from their team, whether they feel comfortable asking questions and seeking help within the team, and if the employee feels included and valued.

11. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the level of support you've received from your manager?

Manager support is crucial when starting in a new role because the manager serves as the entry point to the rest of the organization.

If an employee responds that they have not received a lot of support from their manager, HR staff must work with the manager to improve the manager's onboarding process.

12. Are there any specific skills or areas in which you would like to pursue additional training?

Some employees might feel they need extra help with certain aspects of a new job but hesitate to ask for help. So asking this question can help identify areas where the worker thinks they need to improve.

This question is particularly good to include on a survey that is sent out when the employee has been working at the organization for a little while instead of having them answer it during onboarding.

Luke Marson is a principal architect and part of the management team of a global SAP SuccessFactors consulting partner, where he focuses on SuccessFactors Employee Central, extensibility and integration technologies.

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