Combating Early Attrition: The Effective Use of New Hire and Quality of Hire Surveys

March 31, 2105 | By Beth N. Carvin and Kerrie Main

Webinar Recap -- Part One

Nobscot recently sponsored a webinar, "Combating Early Attrition: The Effective Use of New Hire and Quality of Hire Surveys". It was hosted by Laura DiFlorio, who presented a comprehensive overview of the new hire process and how surveys (including new hire surveys, quality of hire surveys and exit interviews) can assist HR professionals in reducing early turnover. While every company has unique needs and goals, this information-packed webinar discussed a wide variety of topics and solutions that can help all organizations combat early attrition through the use of targeted surveys.

Early Turnover

The webinar began with an overview of how early turnover can drastically affect an organization's bottom line. A typical rate of voluntary turnover for many companies is around 16.6 percent per year, which means that most employees stay at their organizations for an average of six years. At the 16.6 percent rate, companies with 2,500 employees lose 415 employees per year and have to spend more than $2 million dollars each year (using the average cost of replacement at a conservative $5,000 per termination) to replace those employees. The cost dramatically increases when new employees leave after one year rather than after six years! What makes this a significant problem is that the average young employee today doesn't feel as if he or she should stay with a company for the long term unless things are ideal. Therefore, employers must look at what exactly is driving those new employees away….which leads to the new hire experience.

The New Hire Experience

When an employee first accepts the job offer, he or she is very excited about the new job and company. So what happens between that point and the resignation letter? The answer is simple - Irritations. Irritations are the types of things that get under a new employee's skin and make him or her want to leave for greener pastures. They vary from company to company and from individual to individual. Some employees have higher tolerance levels for certain irritations than others. The main keys for employers are to:

  • Identify and reduce the irritations that new hires experience
  • Hire employees that have high thresholds for your unique irritations

Another major aspect of the new hire experience is training. Training is critical, because if an employee doesn't feel that he or she can do the job well, frustration and demoralization can set in. An example of this is what happened at one of Nobscot's clients - a hospital. This healthcare organization had an exorbitantly early turnover rate in their pharmacy division, and they didn't understand why. When they examined their exit interviews, they learned that new employees were not being trained properly, and they were leaving because, as one ex-employee put it, "I was afraid I was going to kill someone." The final integral step in the new hire experience is socialization. Socialization occurs when the new employee begins to identify with the company and feels like he or she really belongs. The socialization process can take anywhere from 90 days to two years, depending on the employee. Once employees have completed this stage, they are less likely to leave the organization.

New Hire Surveys

So, how can HR professionals and managers ensure that all new employees are: a) not letting irritations get to them, b) getting the proper training, and c) get acclimated to the company culture (socialization)? New hire surveys can help! There are many different types and uses for new hire surveys:

  • Expectation surveys - these types of surveys measure if the new hire's expectations match up with the actual job. They are usually conducted immediately after the new hire orientation or a few days after the employee starts the job.
  • Recruitment auditing surveys - these types of surveys focus on the new hire's recruitment process, from the interview to the job offer. They are usually conducted between 30 and 45 days after the employee starts the job.
  • Initial onboarding and training surveys - these types of surveys measure how the overall training and assimilation is going. They are usually conducted between 45 and 60 days after the employee starts the job.
  • New hire experience surveys - these surveys usually focus on several aspects of the new hire's experience, from recruiting to training. They are usually conducted around the employee's 90-day mark.
  • Early socialization surveys - these surveys are usually conducted after the 90-day mark, and employers can gain a sense of the new hire's intent to stay (or leave) with them.
  • Full socialization surveys - these surveys are usually conducted at the six-month mark. Typically, if the employee is happy and satisfied at this time period, he or she will stay with the company for at least another two years.

Some organizations do a combination of a few surveys. For example, a company may do a 10-day expectation survey paired with a 90-day new hire experience survey. However, there is a point in which employees may suffer from survey fatigue, a very real thing. When this occurs, there can be very serious consequences, such as low participation rates and superficial, apathetic answers. How can employers avoid this issue? They can create a corporate culture that demonstrates that the higher ups actually care about their employees' thoughts and feelings. They can also use the RIGHT types of new hire survey questions:

  • Between 20-35 questions
  • Use a combination of quantitative (numerically-rated) and qualitative (open-ended) questions. Quantitative questions should be positioned for the employee to agree or disagree with a statement on a 5-point scale. Qualitative questions are used to "flesh out" the data and give HR professionals perspective and meaning to the data.


While most employers assume that every new employee will complete the new hire survey, the survey rollout will affect the participation rates significantly. HR managers should avoid wording the survey invitation too casually, because some employees will not see the importance of the surveys and may avoid completing them. While these types of surveys are usually voluntary, HR managers should encourage participation by communicating that they are truly worthwhile and that the employees' answers will be used to improve the recruiting/training/onboarding procedures.

Survey Methods

There are four main options of how to conduct a new hire survey:

  • Paper and pencil
  • Email
  • Intranet form
  • New Hire Survey technology - FirstDays

FirstDays is one of Nobscot's products, and it allows HR managers to send out specific surveys at a particular time, which alleviates scheduling confusion. This technology also allows users to analyze the survey data easily and efficiently.


Reporting is the final component of new hire surveys. Without it, all the hard work putting together questions and sending them out at the right times, is useless. Small organizations can enter survey results into a spreadsheet or homemade database. Larger organizations can benefit from new hire survey technology designed specifically to help pinpoint new hire issues and track trends over time. The data can then be broken down by department, division, date of hire, job class, hiring manager or recruitment source to capture exactly what is happening with new hires in various parts of the organization. In Part 2 of the webinar recap, Laura covers Quality of Hire Surveys and Metrics (including calculating ROI) and using Exit Interviews to understand where things go wrong in the employment experience. Click here to continue reading.

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Part Two

Webinar Recap