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Increase onboarding quality with metrics & KPIs

Onboarding often sets the tone for the rest of the time in the company. Good onboarding ensures that new employees are quickly integrated socially and professionally into their new environment. But how can you tell if onboarding is a success for employees and managers? We present helpful metrics that you can use to measure the quality of your onboarding.

Why you should measure your onboarding

Onboarding is one of the most important stages in the employee lifecycle and has a significant impact on employee satisfaction. However, offering a good onboarding experience means a great deal of administrative effort on the part of the company. For HR and IT managers in particular, the hiring of new colleagues involves a large number of tasks.

But how do I ensure that what was previously developed in the onboarding concept also leads to the desired success? The answer: by measuring the quality of my onboarding process. The right tools for this are metrics and KPIs.

Metrics are directly measurable values or combinations of multiple measurable values. Onboarding metrics help make the onboarding process quantifiable and can represent both the employee and company perspective.

Using metrics it is possible to see

  • how efficiently the onboarding processes currently function and where there is potential for optimization.
  • how satisfied employees are with the induction process.

KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) are, as the name already indicates, key performance indicators for the company. Which key figure serves as a KPI is therefore determined by the strategic goals. A KPI shows the progress made in achieving the respective goal. 

And what should be measured now? As is often the case, there is no general answer to this question. Rather, the chosen metrics must serve your purpose, i.e. be chosen based on your individual goals.

Basic goals for induction are:

  • Social integration
  • Professional integration
  • Create a welcoming culture
  • Show appreciation
Depending on which goals are important to you, you should collect and analyze the corresponding key figures.

Which key figures should you keep an eye on?

For onboarding, there are a number of key figures that are collected in many companies. We present the most important ones below.

The key onboarding metrics

  1. Rate of successful settings
  2. Early turnover rate
  3. Time to environmentally operational
  4. Time to fully operational
  5. Number of trainings & feedback meetings
  6. Takeover rate
  7. Onboarding Experience

1. rate of successful settings

The ratio is the number of people who take up the position and the number of people who have signed an employment contract. The ratio allows conclusions to be drawn about recruiting, but can also be used as an onboarding metric. This may sound irritating at first. But it becomes clear when you realize that onboarding doesn't just start with the 1st day of work, but already with the signing of the contract (You can learn more about the onboarding phases here).

A different job offer, personal reasons or a bad gut feeling, the reasons for not starting a new job are very different. Especially the latter is a sign of a bad experience during preboarding.
If the rate is too high, you should not simply accept rejections. Instead, try to find out in a personal conversation what caused the person not to start the new job. If the reasons lie in preboarding, the process for this phase should be improved as a matter of urgency. Regular contact with the recruit and showing them that you are looking forward to starting soon are the key requirements here.

2. rate of early turnover

The early turnover rate results from the number of new starters and the number of those who leave the company again within the first few weeks or months. Early turnover also has different causes, which do not necessarily lie on the company side.

However, if employees leave the company early, this is often an indicator of low employee satisfaction. This in turn can indicate either problems in recruiting (possibly due to false promises) or in onboarding (e.g. lack of support). If you notice a high rate of early turnover, you should try to understand the reasons for this. An offboarding conversation is a good way to learn more about the reasons.

If onboarding is regularly cited as a reason, you should revise the process regardless of the question of employee satisfaction. After all, reducing early turnover also makes sense from an economic perspective. A departure can mean costs of up to €50,000 for the company. This includes direct costs (severance pay, vacation compensation, recruitment costs, and costs for new employees to join the company) and indirect costs (time spent by the HR department, lost revenue due to orders that cannot be fulfilled, etc.).

3. time to environmentally operational

The term "time to environmentally operational" refers to the time required to provide new employees with the workplace equipment and all the work tools they need to get started. Work equipment includes everything that is needed to perform a task in the best possible way. This is not just a desk, office chair or laptop. The notepad, company cell phone or company car are also among the necessary work tools.

In many companies, procuring all work equipment still takes an enormous amount of time. Appropriate suppliers must be found and punctual delivery organized. Technology has to be configured and integrated into existing MDM solutions. For HR and IT managers or office managers, all of this leads to a high expenditure of time.

The time to environmentally operational is therefore of particular interest for the company side. It shows how well current processes are working and whether there is room for optimization and consequently for savings. But you should also regularly check the key figure with regard to employees. If provisioning regularly takes too long and employees are not ready to go from the first working day at the latest, this usually leads to dissatisfaction.

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4. time to fully operational

The key figure "time to fully operational" indicates how long it takes until new employees are fully operational. This value is important because your employees can only perform to their full potential from this point on.

An essential part of onboarding is professional integration. The aim is to provide new colleagues not only with the equipment but also with the necessary know-how to perform the respective tasks. As it allows conclusions to be drawn about how effective training and development measures are, this key figure is important for this area of onboarding.
However, always assess the time to fully operational depending on the context. Onboarding a marketing team usually takes less time than onboarding a developer. The same applies when comparing executives to "simple" employees.

5. number of trainings & feedback talk

When the onboarding concept is drawn up, it is usually also determined to what extent training is to be carried out during onboarding in order to provide employees with the necessary basics. The same applies to feedback meetings with superiors and colleagues.

In this respect, the key figure recorded is how many such measures were actually required in the end to make newcomers fit for their task. As a result, it provides indications

  • on the quality of training and talks
  • Whether the previously selected number corresponds to reality
  • on the fit of the position and the employee hired

6. takeover rate

The takeover rate, i.e., the number of hires who are taken on after the end of the probationary period, is another helpful metric. As a key figure for onboarding, it also helps to classify the quality of the induction process.

A low adoption rate may indicate that the onboarding process was not sufficient to enable the new team members to

  • well prepared for their task or
  • to integrate them optimally into the company and the team.

7. onboarding experience

Last but not least, employee satisfaction with onboarding is a key performance indicator. After all, employees should not only be trained correctly. They should also quickly feel at home in their new environment.
The NPS - Net Promoter Score - is already used in many different areas as a key figure to measure customer satisfaction. For some time now, the NPS system has also been used in the HR sector to determine employee satisfaction and loyalty. The principle can be broken down further and applied to the onboarding process.
To determine the NPS at company level, employees answer the question: "Would you recommend our company as an employer to friends and acquaintances?" The answer is given on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = strongly disagree, 10 = strongly agree). Analogously, this approach can be applied to onboarding.
The NPS is calculated as the difference between promoters and detractors. Employees who answer the question with 9 or 10 are considered promoters. Detractors are all those who answer with 0 to 6.

The NPS is then calculated as follows:

Calculation of the NPS

NPS = Promoters (in percent of all respondents) - Detractors (in percent of all respondents)

Consequently, the NPS value range is between -100 and +100.

Improve onboarding process with metrics and KPIs

Which of the above-mentioned metrics you use for your company depends, as mentioned, on the goals of onboarding. Of course, you can also use other metrics in addition to the ones mentioned. It is also not uncommon to use different metrics over time. A young start-up has different requirements than an established medium-sized company.
However, in order to work meaningfully with key figures, a structured process is necessary. Only when there are fixed procedures in onboarding can key figures be used to identify weaknesses and determine developments. If your onboarding changes continuously, comparability is hardly possible.

If you determine on the basis of your key figures that there is a need for optimization, it is important to find out where the causes lie. Once it is clear what is causing the poor values, you can define improvement targets together with your team.

Based on the goals, concrete measures are then developed to achieve these goals. A time frame should always be defined for achieving the goals. This period should not be too long. Quarterly or half-yearly targets are usually suitable.

Example: KPI for onboarding

For example, if it has been found that the majority of terminations occur within the first 6 weeks of startup due to a poor onboarding experience, an appropriate goal might be: "Reduce the number of terminations in the first 6 weeks after starting work by 50% within the next 3 months."
In the team, you find that feedback sessions help to alleviate the fears and concerns of new employees. For this reason, you decide to double the number of feedback sessions during this period.
At the end of the 3 months, you evaluate the KPI and assess whether the chosen measure has brought the desired success.