Guide to Onboarding Surveys

A guide to onboarding surveys and why it is important to collect and measure this type of feedback

Jared Ellis avatar
Written by Jared Ellis
Updated over a week ago

What can I learn from this page?

A guide to onboarding surveys and why it is important to collect and measure this type of feedback

Who is this guide for?

Account Admins, Survey Admins, Survey Creators

Why Collect Employee Feedback During Onboarding?

Our belief at Culture Amp is that surveys can be a tool to encourage two-way conversations. Onboarding tends to be a one-way process in that information is just given to new employees. But by asking new starters for feedback on their onboarding experience, an organization can ensure a two-way conversation takes place. It also means organizations can more readily intervene if there is something broken in the system. By catching potential issues earlier, their impact on future performance, productivity, and satisfaction can be reduced.

It’s important to note that onboarding is a process that can take months. This is why it’s impactful to collect feedback from new employees so an organization can improve and iterate on the onboarding process.

There are a number of facets to a successful onboarding process. Administrative tasks, making employees feel comfortable in their new company, then the onboarding process continues as new hires are nurtured into productive, seasoned employees.

Increase Employee Lifetime Value

With a successful onboarding program, you can increase an employee’s lifetime value (ELTV). Maia Josebachvili defines ELTV as “the total net value over time that an employee brings to an organization.” When someone joins your team, their output is negative because they are not yet contributing and have already required other employees to take time to hire and train them. However, with effective onboarding you increase ELTV in two ways: First, the time it takes to be a fully contributing member of the team decreases; and Second, employees are more likely to stay with your organization longer because they’ve been more effectively brought up to speed and socialized. The Wyndhurst Group found that employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the company three years later.

Identify Gaps

You can’t improve your recruiting and onboarding programs until you know what needs to change. Getting feedback from new hires allows you to identify gaps in knowledge and training so you can provide those for future hires. Additionally, while you may have a standardized program, there can be inconsistencies in how managers deliver it. You’ll be able to identify managers with new hires that are creating exceptional onboarding experiences and be able to share those learnings with managers that may need additional support.

How to Implement an Onboarding Survey

The science behind our Onboarding Outcome Factor

Our ‘overall onboarding experience’ questions should be thought of as outcome questions. They represent the very high-level ultimate feelings, attitudes, and behaviors that the research indicates people would have or experience because of successful onboarding.

The onboarding outcome is made up of five components:

  • Expectations of role

  • Confidence to perform role

  • Belonging

  • Productivity

  • Decision to join

Expectations of Role

The successful adjustment of a new employee to an organization is observed through role clarity, that is, an understanding of how to perform the job, including how to prioritize job tasks and allocate time to complete them.

Confidence to Perform Role

Learning the tasks of the new job and gaining confidence in one’s capability to perform their new role is another aspect of a quality onboarding experience.


Social integration is a key factor in a positive onboarding experience. When a new employee is welcomed and accepted by peers and has developed a sense of belonging within the organization, onboarding is perceived to be favorable.


Because a new hire can take up to 8 months to become productive and organizations with a structured onboarding process have 54% higher productivity from their new starters, it’s important to measure how productive the new employee is feeling so appropriate action can be taken.

Decision to join

Various research has suggested that a new employee decides within the first six months whether or not they will remain with the organization, therefore how they’re feeling about their decision to join the organization in an onboarding survey can give great insight.

We cannot directly impact these five outcome items, e.g., we cannot tell people to be more confident or productive in their role. They are impacted by a number of other factors, which we have captured in the remaining 18-25 (phased/single point) questions in the survey.

Survey Factors

We look at the onboarding process from multiple angles to gauge what is driving onboarding success for an organization. We’ve provided an explanation of the key drivers to successful onboarding.


The first chance you have to interact with employees is before they enter the organization when they are job candidates. It's important to know how they interacted with recruiters and hiring managers because this allows you to understand the expectations they are carrying with them into the organization.

Understanding Organizational Culture and Mission

Once in the role, it's important to capture whether new employees are learning about the organization’s mission/values/purpose, and understand how their work contributes to the goals of the organization.

Access to Information

One of the most important things for successful onboarding is for employees to know where and how to seek information, including feedback through systems, relationships with peers and managers, which helps to build their relationships more quickly (embedding into the organization) and learn their roles faster (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011).

Organizational Alignment

The survey seeks to measure organizational alignment, that is, whether new employees feel overwhelmed, that they feel like they've made the right choice, whether they fit in with the company's culture, and whether the organization’s values resonate with them (Saks & Gruman, 2011).

Other survey factors include:

  • Logistics

  • Adjustment

  • Induction

  • Role Perceptions

  • Experience

Measuring Engagement During Onboarding

While there is some merit in collecting feedback on engagement levels of a new employee, generally speaking, it is more impactful to measure how effective the onboarding experience has been (using that as the outcome index). That said, organizations can customize their onboarding survey(s) to include engagement as a factor if they wish to trend this over time.

Our data shows that engagement steadily decreases from two weeks of employment, when engagement is at its most favorable at an average of 95%, to three months of tenure, when engagement has decreased by 6% points to an average of 89% favorable.

Culture Amp global data shows that the average overall favorable engagement is 71%. Given that the average for employees three months into their employment is 89% favorable, we suggest omitting new hires from an organization’s engagement survey in the first three months so as not to positively skew the results (and potentially giving an organization an inaccurate sense of overall engagement, spending on size of organization and number of new employees included in engagement survey).

To read more about onboarding strategy and collecting onboarding feedback at a single point in time, or using a phased approach, read our Support Guide article.

💡Tip: Learn more about these Culture Amp data insights and more at Culture First Insights.


Do you have a benchmark for this onboarding survey?

Partially! We have benchmarks available for many of the onboarding survey questions. As part of our commitment to providing you with the latest thinking, we recently made a change to our outcome questions that help you gauge overall onboarding experience. Because of this, we are still accumulating enough data to publish a benchmark on overall onboarding experience, but it will be coming soon.

My organization is using the old onboarding template, will my live survey(s) update automatically?

No, unfortunately not. The updated outcome questions will only be applied to new onboarding surveys. Customers who have existing onboarding (lifecycle) survey(s) running will need to start fresh if they wish to include these questions. Please contact Support if you need assistance with this.

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