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Measuring the Success of an On-Boarding Program

December 1, 2011
Related Topics: Strategy and Management

Measuring the success of an on-boarding program is no small task.

On an individual level, the evaluation of a new hire’s progress is constant. Both the new hire and his or her manager are keeping a daily check on the progress that is — or isn't — being made.

Yet on a larger level, organizations are tasked with measuring the effectiveness of an on-boarding program by company-wide turnover and retention rates.

As research in this space has shown, organizations have been known to collect data that tells them the rates of turnover and retention among the employee base. This allows an organization to keep a keen eye on the success of its engagement and employee development programs.

The front line on these levels, in many regards, is a company’s on-boarding program.

The adage goes that a new hire’s first 10 days — or two weeks — of employment is the period in which a new hire makes the decision to stick around or to start looking for another job. This obviously lends support to the importance of the on-boarding process — because should a program fail to embrace new hires and present how their skills and talents will be developed, the less likely they will stick around.

Or if a program simply lacks the necessary support and organization to get an employee up to speed comfortably, well, then you’re in real trouble.

In any event, some in the field suggest that the idea of measuring the success of an on-boarding program on its own is too narrow in scope.

“The only reason you ever bring anyone into an organization is to produce results,” said George Bradt, managing director of PrimeGenesis, an executive on-boarding consultancy. “You’ve got to measure the business results.”

On the other side of the coin are the managers, who are hoping the on-boarding period is one in which a new hire is reassured that he or she made the right hiring choice to begin with.

Some organizations — as this month’s special report on assessments and measurement points out — use the tactic of post-hire assessments as a means to track and craft a course for employees during the on-boarding process.

As an article I wrote in this month’s special report showed, financial services firm Advance America lets these post-hire assessments serve as a barometer of where their storefront employees are in attaining the focused skill sets required for their jobs.

In addition to a typical two- to three-week training orientation, new storefront employees are required to take assessments in reading and mathematics — two skill areas that are vital for processing and working with consumer financial transactions.

“It just basically means we know how much more we have to shadow that person and give them extra resources or support,” said Shay Myers, Advance America’s vice president of talent management, in a phone interview last month.

Assessing and measuring the effectiveness of a company’s on-boarding program varies. The process take many forms — performance reviews, post-hire skill assessments, etc.

But, as PrimeGenesis’ Bradt made clear in our phone conversation, measuring the success on a given on-boarding program, in the end, is insignificant if the employee isn't having a positive impact on the greater business results.

“On-boarding is not an end in itself,” he said. “It is a tool to help an organization accelerate progress."

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