NPS: An Innovative Approach to the Onboarding Experience Survey

NPS: An Innovative Approach to the Onboarding Experience Survey

This article was updated on September 3, 2018.

Incorporating a revamped onboarding experience survey to find out what you're doing well (and not so well) could make a real difference in the battle to retain your talent. According to the Wynhurst Group from an article by Masteryworks, Inc., 22 percent of employee turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment, and the cost of losing that employee can be three times their salary.

It is imperative, therefore, that HR leaders are certain their onboarding efforts have a positive impact on the new employee experience. The best way to do that is through an effective survey.

Traditional Surveys Don't Always Inspire Action

Traditional surveys collect plenty of data, but because people are so busy, actions are rarely taken to improve anything. They often contain too many irrelevant questions that end up unread by HR because the team has already moved on to the next new hire class. The HR team is left with no definitive metric to measure the effectiveness of the onboarding experience.

This is not to say HR teams shouldn't collect survey data from new employees about their onboarding experience. According to Forbes, surveys are still the most effective tool to ensure new hires are headed down the right path.

You just have to ask the right questions.

A New Way to Survey New Employees

Employee onboarding should cover the three Cs — connection, comfort and culture — to make it a positive experience for new hires. Making the onboarding process more people-centric, rather than simply filling out paperwork and reading the employee manual, is key.

Organizations should implement an onboarding experience survey to collect feedback on those three Cs, but it should be framed in a new way to be effective. HR leaders could learn a lot from colleagues in marketing and customer service in how they collect and use feedback from "customers." One way is to consider adopting the Net Promoter System (NPS) to quantitatively measure the effectiveness of the employee onboarding experience.

NPS is used by organizations, such as Zappos and PayPal, to gather customer feedback, obtain a single performance metric (the NPS Score) and provide a simple process for taking action toward improvement. Organizations that use NPS achieve organic growth of 20 to 60 percent and outgrow competitors by almost double.

Wouldn't it be great if HR leaders could use NPS to make similar improvements in human capital management results?

New Employee Willingness to Recommend

NPS is based on one fundamental question: "Based on your recent experience, how likely are you to recommend this organization/product/training course to a friend or colleague?"

A follow-up question then asks "What is the primary reason for your score?"

Finally, many organizations use a third question: "Would you like to be contacted by a manager about your score/experience? If so, please add your contact information below."

That's it.

Although there are variations in how organizations phrase their questions, the basic premise is that people who are willing to recommend your product, service or organization will have some loyalty and become return customers (and recommend others).

NPS and HR

Applied to the employee onboarding experience, NPS would allow HR leaders to understand how willing employees are to recommend the organization to a friend or colleague. That one powerful piece of data could serve to change the way HR departments understand employee engagement.

The reason NPS is so compelling is because it is simple to employ, and it makes it easy for managers to make informed decisions and take action to make process changes. For example, if a new employee provides a low score on the "willingness to recommend" question, and then provides in writing the primary reason for their score, HR managers have specific information on which to take action. Instead of combing through responses for scores of 30-question surveys, an HR manager can focus on the individual survey responses with low scores and the additional information provided about that low score.

Moreover, HR leaders can use an NPS dashboard to monitor the onboarding experience metric (the NPS score) against the goal and take action when the trend is negative or otherwise falls below the goal.

Seeking feedback from new employees in the same way that organizations measure customer loyalty is not a traditional approach to measuring human capital management performance. However, if organizations are using NPS to achieve organic growth of 20 to 60 percent and are outgrowing competitors by a factor of two, why can't HR leaders use it to improve employee engagement, retention and human capital performance?