Three ways to take action on onboarding survey data

When you’ve worked hard to create a culture first onboarding experience, you’ll want to know if it really provides the experience you want for new hires.

One of the things I found difficult about creating an onboarding experience was putting myself back into the shoes of someone starting on Day One. When you know how to do something, it’s easy to forget all the steps you do automatically and the knowledge you take for granted. Luckily, your new hires are in the perfect position to remind you of these steps and identify the gaps!

The information you gather from an onboarding survey helps you understand if the program you’ve built meets expectations. It also helps you in your discussions with leadership and in identifying if there are any bumps in a new hire’s experience that you can fix.

Here are three ways you can act on the data you have gathered from onboarding surveys.

1. Improve your processes

The feedback you gather from new hires is invaluable in helping you to iterate on your recruiting and onboarding experiences. This is especially true as your company, and the processes it uses, evolve.

Below are three questions I ask myself that help me frame the feedback I receive when reviewing our onboarding surveys at Culture Amp.

I’ve also included some of the actual feedback I have received over the last year, because they’re items that might come up at your company as well.

What are the pain points?

    • In recruiting: consistent communication, scheduling difficulties, length of process
    • In onboarding: access to accounts/equipment, scheduling meetings, number of tasks
What do people want to see more of?

    • In recruiting: day-to-day life at Culture Amp, their future team
    • In onboarding: guided hands-on time with the product, pairing time

Is the content useful and timely?

    • In recruiting: good information about company mission, need deeper understanding of logistics
    • In onboarding: content is good, but amount of content in first couple of weeks can be overwhelming

We’ve used the feedback from our surveys to adjust the content in our training sessions, add new training sessions, develop more automated communications between teams, and adjust the pacing of our onboarding program. You may see similar feedback from your surveys, with the action you take being specific to your program and the problems you need to solve.

2. Improve individual experiences

While onboarding data can be crucial to continuously improving your overall onboarding experience, it can be just as critical to improving one individual’s experience. Gathering and consistently reviewing your onboarding feedback gives you the opportunity to identify and intervene on an experience that may not be going well.

I review all new hire onboarding survey results as people join Culture Amp. I communicate each individual’s results to their mentor and suggest topics for discussion. Since I also see onboarding survey data at the company level (in addition to the individual) I have the necessary context for when to flag things. I can also make the call on whether these items might merit more structured interventions in coordination with the People Team.

Dr. Jennifer Cullen, our Vice President of People Science, manages a growing team of 8 people. She says that having highlighted discussion topics enables busy managers to easily check-in with new hires and make necessary adjustments. “Having another person point out a new hire’s potential pain points allows me to immediately address those topics in my next one-on-ones. One new hire commented that training on a specific tool would have been valuable earlier in the process, so I updated my onboarding program to include that training for another new hire.”

While isolated neutral or negative responses aren’t an automatic cause for concern, I pay particular attention to the questions around role expectations and feelings of belonging and productivity, especially if a number of these questions are not rated positively.

I would recommend for all survey reviewers to examine responses to onboarding survey questions like:

  • “I know what is expected of me in my role”
  • “I am feeling welcome here”
  • “I am feeling productive”

If I see a pattern among responses to these questions, I get the benefit of being able to intervene early on and enable the mentor to work with the new hire to improve their experience and address any gaps. Having these early intervention points has the potential to positively impact someone’s ramp-up time and engagement, as well as prevent you from losing someone you’ve worked so hard to hire.

3. Communicate with leadership

Hiring and retaining talent is important to your leadership. Your onboarding and exit survey data are important sources you can use to talk to leadership about the parts of your processes that are working well, the parts that aren’t, and where you might need additional resources. This data can also provide important context if you are experiencing short-term turnovers.

At Culture Amp, our executive team reviews onboarding data at regular meetings. Specific data points are also used when discussing other topics like talent acquisition and hiring. For example, Eryn Marshall, Director of Talent Acquisition, recently used comments from onboarding surveys along with data from our applicant tracking system to highlight the importance of the candidate experience during recruiting.


Stacey NordwallStacey Nordwall is a People Geek and Senior People Operations Manager at Culture Amp. She has an MA with Honors in Counseling Psychology from St. Mary’s College of California and a BA in Psychology and Communication from Stanford University. She is passionate about learning how and why people think and behave as they do, helping people grow, and working to improve the world of work. 
Stacey has scaled Culture Amp's onboarding program through 5x growth, and is responsible for Culture Amp's people operations globally. You can connect with Stacey on LinkedIn.

About Culture Amp

Culture Amp helps you make your company a better place to work. By making it easy to collect, understand and act on employee feedback, we enable HR leaders to make better decisions, demonstrate impact, and turn company culture into a competitive edge.

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