Measuring the success of your technical onboarding is often an overlooked part of the entire hiring process. Far too many companies and hiring managers worry about getting the candidate in the door and then are surprised why they leave after a few months (if this is often happening, it’s time to take a look at your onboarding process for starters). Measuring onboarding success is more than simply asking a new developer how they feel about the company after a month and writing it down in a spreadsheet. Here are a few things to keep in mind when measuring your developer onboarding success.
Don’t Rush Results
It takes new employees a while to become fully competent in their role. According to Misplaced Talent, it takes six to eight months for the average employee to become fully competent in his or her role. This number may be even higher for technical roles, which generally require getting familiar with a company’s codebase, processes, and team dynamics. Our own Jon Chan wrote about his first six weeks working at Stack Overflow, which illustrates how even the most talented developers need some time to get acclimated.
Some Turnover is Inevitable
It’s very rare for a company never to have lost an employee early on after they were hired. Even with the best developer onboarding process out there, sometimes the employee doesn’t fit in with the company or can’t keep up with the work. The standard turnover rate varies greatly. For example, Forbes says anything under 15% is healthy, CompData’s average rate in 2013 was 15%, and Misplaced Talent listed it as 30%. So don’t always equate turnover with poor onboarding, but do keep it in the back of your mind. Additionally, don't make any assumptions. Ask developers during their exit interviews if their onboarding experience was a factor in their decision.
Feedback is Crucial
If you’re just measuring onboarding from gathering numbers (like yield ratios or orientation costs), you’re destined to fail. Companies need to get feedback from new employees in the form of words, too. Whether you want to implement an engagement survey or periodical meetings for new employees, make sure you ask them for their thoughts on the onboarding process and how it can be improved. When you get that feedback, take it seriously and implement it wherever possible.