Why every onboarding experience should begin with a recognition survey

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The hiring process is over and you’ve started the onboarding process for your newest employee. You sent the offer letter, arranged training sessions for their first week, and paired them with a work buddy to help acclimate them to the workplace. You’ve done all you can for your new hire, right?


While well intentioned, many of today’s standard onboarding procedures neglect to integrate a jumpstart to relationship-building. By following the rote formula, you miss out on a major opportunity to show new hires you value them and their decision to join your company.

So, what’s the best way to build a relationship from day one? By getting to know your new hires on a personal level — before their first day. At Lucidchart, we ask every new employee to fill out a simple recognition survey prior to joining our team. Here’s why.

It makes a good first impression. Research shows that employees who work for organizations where recognition is emphasized are more engaged and happier at work. Asking employees about their personal preferences before they start tells them your company values them as individuals — not just for the skills they offer.

Discerning this information doesn’t require an in-depth survey. A handful of questions about their likes/dislikes and how they prefer to be recognized can arm HR and team managers for success. For example, you can ask:

  • What are the ways you most like to receive recognition (For example, do you like a public shout-out, or do you prefer a written note)?
  • How do you feel about surprises?
  • What is your favorite snack, beverage, treat, restaurant, store, sport or hobby?
  • What do you like doing outside of work?

Learning about your employees’ personal interests and preferences gives you the opportunity to make their first days — and beyond — even more meaningful.
It builds a foundation for the right recognition. Information about your new hire not only enhances their experience when they start, it allows you to leverage it throughout their employment.

This is especially useful when someone does outstanding work. Referring to their responses to the survey, you can recognize your employees in ways that are most meaningful to them. Just recently I was able to reward a co-worker for putting in extra time at the office with a favorite beverage. And while gestures like this may appear small on the surface, they can go a long way.

People also respond differently to various forms of recognition — a public shout-out for one employee might make another feel isolated or even embarrassed. By having a record of the employee’s recognition preferences, you can be sure you’re rewarding their achievements in a way that resonates with them.

It gives new hires a head start on building relationships with teams and managers. Beyond recognition, you can use the survey responses to make new employees feel welcome and valued. HR should share this information with appropriate parties, such as managers, to help them build a stronger bond with their direct reports.

Similarly, consider arranging a lunch or pairing the new hire up with different team members who overlap in interests and/or like to do similar things outside of work. This way, your new hire feels welcome and can start building work relationships immediately. One of the scariest parts about a new job is looking around and not knowing anyone — making the onboarding experience more personalized creates opportunities for new hires to make fast friends out of co-workers.

Your goal: A happier, engaged workforce

While job-specific training is fundamental to successful onboarding, adding relationship-building elements are just as important. Although new-hire training lasts around two weeks at Lucidchart, onboarding is ongoing as we work to establish a culture of inclusion and individual recognition.

Once a candidate becomes a new employee, think about the ways you can enhance their experience, from recognition surveys to getting-to-know-you exercises in person. You can count your onboarding as a success if employees feel they are valued from the get-go.

Remember, we only get one first impression; make sure it’s the right one.

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Recruiting Employee engagement Employee relations Employee communications Workforce management Workplace management Workplace culture