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Post by Rich Moy on Aug 14, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Over the last few years, recruitment teams have gotten more comfortable with using data to make informed decisions. One of the most common things that talent acquisition managers measure is the return on investment (ROI) of their developer hiring initiatives. Things such as application rates and cost-per-hire are fairly straightforward to understand.

Still, there are many other facets of a recruitment strategy that you should measure. In fact, you could argue that onboarding programs are just as crucial to your developer hiring success. But how do you calculate the ROI of onboarding developers? Here are a few things to consider.

Establish the Purpose of Your Developer Onboarding Programs

There are often two sides of onboarding: Competency and Company. For some non-technical roles, you’ll occasionally need to teach a new hire how to complete specific tasks. But according to Casey Ashenhurst, a Senior People Operations Partner here at Stack Overflow, it’s more of a challenge for developers to learn what makes their new company unique.

“They want to do meaningful work as soon as possible, and if your recruitment process is working, they should have the skills to contribute immediately,” she adds. “But there are quirks about every business that are difficult for any developer to overcome without proper onboarding. It’s essential to understand how much institutional knowledge they need to have to be full contributors.”

With this in mind, meet with your engineering managers to discuss the purpose of your developer onboarding programs. How difficult has it been for a programmer to acclimate to your organization in the past? How much information about your company do they need, and where do new hires tend to get lost? These questions will help you discover your desired outcomes, which will make it easier for you to calculate ROI.

The True Investment in an Onboarding Strategy

For most initiatives, you can calculate the ROI by dividing the gain of your investment by the dollar amount that you budgeted. But the cost of onboarding developers is defined by much more than a line item in your budget. There are a few less apparent costs that you need to consider when you evaluate the effectiveness of your onboarding programs.

“The big question for talent acquisition people is, ‘How much time are our current developers dedicating to onboarding their colleagues?’” Ashenhurst tells us. “That’s often the biggest ‘expense’ a company will incur for a developer onboarding programs. If they spend too much time away from important projects, this is a sign that something about your ramp-up period has broken. In some cases, this can also indicate that you’ve made a hiring mistake.”

When it comes to calculating the results of your investment in onboarding, Ashenhurst says that there are two things employers often want. First, you want to ensure that you’re setting developers up for long-term success. More importantly, you need to determine how quickly you’d like them to be full contributors. “If you don’t take the time to create a structured onboarding experience, developers will be unsure about what’s going on,” she adds. “And at the end of the day, very few programmers will want to be a part of something that disorganized.”

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