Friday, June 18, 2010

Nuts and Bolts of Onboarding Surveys

There is an excellent LinkedIn Group for those interested in employee onboarding called Onboarding Best Practices - Clearing the 90-Day Hurdle. It's run by Sue Edwards of Development by Design with whom I have been very impressed.

One of the members posed a question about Onboarding Surveys for which I happen to have a little bit of experience. I thought I'd share my bullet points answer here in the Nobscot blog for others who might be interested as well.

Question: Onboarding Survey?

I am part of a team that is designing a comprehensive onboarding process from hire date through first anniversary. We are looking for samples of new hire onboarding / first year surveys. We are interested in the content as well as the frequency that employees are surveyed - and if the content changes with each survey. Any information you can share would be very helpful. Thanks!

Beth's Answer:

We see a variety of approaches to onboarding surveys and each has its pros and cons. Here are a couple things to think about:

1. The frequency in which you survey needs to be congruent with your corporate culture. If you have a culture of listening to employees and acting on the feedback then you are in a good position to do multiple surveys. If your culture is not quite there yet then you might want to scale back the # of surveys initially until employees see that their feedback does make a difference.

2. If you are thinking of doing one survey only and doing it at 90 days, consider moving that up to 75 days. Ninety days is often the point where new hires give up. If you can catch them at 75 days, you may find out some of the needs before it's too late.

3. If you plan to do multiple surveys, you should plan your objective for each survey. For example an early survey might be geared around the recruitment and orientation experience, a second survey around the early training and meeting initial expectations and a third focused on socialization (are they beginning to identify with the organization).

4. You can also use multiple surveys to follow employees' (collective) work experiences and see if there is a particular point in time where your employees tend to lose their initial enthusiasm. This is useful if you have a lot of employee turnover in your first year.

5. Based on item 3 and 4 above, the answer to your question regarding whether or not the content changes for each survey, the answer is yes and no. You'll want to have some unique questions based on the objective of that particular survey and some core questions that you ask at each interval in order to track changes in responses.

6. Consider aligning your new hire survey questions with your exit interview questions. You'll often get a little bit more candid responses in the exit interviews and it will allow you to track the life cycle sentiments of your employees. (And be sure to track your exit interview results by length of service so you can break the data down appropriately. When you compare the data side-by-side you'll be able to see exactly where and when the irritations occur that cause people to leave.)

7. Depending on the volume, consider utilizing a new hire survey technology. This will make it easier for you to administer at the appropriate time interval, encourage honest responses from the new employees, track participation rates and make it easy to analyze and report on the results.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Has HR Technology Pricing Gone Veblen?

I write a lot about pricing strategies because as the CEO of Nobscot Corporation it is one of my most difficult and most important jobs. The reason that it is so difficult is because of the psychological component or as Dan Ariely would say the irrational side to pricing and its affect on purchasing.

For me, being not only the CEO but also a co-founder and co-developer of Nobscot and Mentor Scout's products, I have a (misguided?) sense of pride in offering the HR community the best HR technology in our niches at the lowest possible prices. It's satisfying to help clients and the industry in such a way. Great products - Great Prices. Everyone wins.

Or so you would think.

I recently ran across an article published in Harper's Magazine that was an expose of the Jewelry business. It was eye-opening in a number of ways. What particularly caught my attention was the concept of Veblen goods. The term Veblen goods is used to describe (per wikipedia) products "for which people's preference for buying them increases as a direct function of their price, as greater price confers greater status, instead of decreasing according to the law of demand." In other words, the more they cost, the more people want to buy them.

The author, Clancy Martin, PhD, tells the story of a Thai rug he was selling that hung on the wall of his store for several years. He had bought the rug in Thailand for $5,000. and tried to sell it for $25,000. Over the next three years he slowly upped the price. It didn't sell until it hit $150,000 at which point he ended up negotiating a sale that closed at $110,000.

Which got me thinking about HR technology. Are some vendors selling Veblen HR products? When the HRIS model began to shift from the on-premise client-server model to online SaaS versions, vendors reduced their development and other costs dramatically. Did they equally reduce the prices of their products as well or have some of them gone Veblen?

I remember when one of the first major onboarding technologies was released by one of the applicant tracking system vendors (that has since been absorbed by another). The pricing was in the neighborhood of $75,000 per year for something that at the time consisted primarily of new hire checklists and emails sent to the appropriate parties. I'm pretty sure that was Veblen.

As you review your HR technology and HR services budgets and future purchases ask yourself, am I buying Veblen goods? And if so, keep your eyes open for other possibilities that may have the same or better quality, features, security and support for a lot less. Don't be the one who happily walked away with the $5000 rug for $110,000.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Retiree Reaps Rewards from Mentoring

I was excited to come across this gem from the United Way Retirees Association newsletter.

It's a great example of the many wonderful benefits of mentoring for both the mentee AND the mentor. (See Ten Best Reasons to be a Mentor). If you have the opportunity to be involved in a mentorship program jump at it. Your first reaction might be that you don't have time or you have nothing to learn or nothing to share. Not true! Everyone has something unique and special that they can bring to a mentoring relationship.

Just ask Dick Aft.

Below is the article in its entirety.

Retiree Reaps Beaucoup Rewards from Mentoring
By Dick Aft

For the past few months, my life has been enriched by a young United Way professional who selected my name from the Mentor Scout data base. Mentor Scout is a collaborative effort of the United Way Retirees Association and United Way Worldwide that has established a comprehen­sive system-wide online mentoring program.

Mentoring is not new to United Way. During my 50 years as a professional, now volunteer, this is the third organized program in which I have served as a mentor to a colleague with less experi­ence. It’s been the least that I could do considering all of the people who infor­mally did the same for me over the years.

At its heart, mentoring involves torch-passing. . . . sharing the principles, practices, mores and methods of profes­sional United Way practice. What sets the Mentor Scout program apart from its predecessors is its extensive use of online communication. It begins with on-line registration by people interested in serving as mentors. Following their acceptance into the program, each pro­spective mentor’s bio is put onto a web­site open to United Way employees who are seeking one-year mentors through this program. Next, each prospective mentee reaches out to mentor candidates whose experiences appear to meet his/her interests.

My Mentor Scout mentee initiated our relationship by sending an e-mail self-introduction and inquiry regarding my interest. Following a brief exchange of e-correspondence to become acquainted, she followed Mentor Scout protocols by proposing goals and objectives for my reaction. Together, we refined them so that they fit her needs, my capacities to be of help to her and assurances that our plan fit within her job and supervisory job demands. After three months of mostly weekly, but sometimes twice-weekly e-mail exchanges, she and I both feel that she is making progress on her goals. Next, we plan a telephone con­versation of shared experiences related to her objectives.

What fun! And how interesting it is to be using a 21st century medium to “give back” some of the many things that have been given to me during my career. What’s more is that, just between us, my mentee helps me feel proud and satisfied that I am adding value to her ability to contribute to our movement.

If you are interested in becoming part of the Mentor Scout program, please visit the UWRA website ( for a link to the information. Hopefully, you’ll find this experience as delightful as I have!