The Importance of Onboarding & Exit Surveys for Employee Retention Throughout the Employee Journey

Anna Eliseeva

Did you know that replacing an employee costs an organization between 50-150% of the employee’s annual salary? And that 1 in 3 employees leave their organization before the first year is up? Both are staggering numbers that have a real impact on your company’s bottom line (Source: Effectory data). In this article, we dive into the world of employee experience and show you how onboarding and exit surveys play a critical role in employee retention. Discover the hidden costs of employee churn and how to prevent it with effective onboarding and exit strategies. 

The Importance of Onboarding & Exit Surveys for Employee Retention Throughout the Employee Journey

What is an Onboarding Program? 

Onboarding is the process of introducing new employees to their role, their team, and the organization. Effective onboarding practices help employees become part of the organization faster and contribute to the organization’s goals. The onboarding process begins when the candidate says “yes” to their offer and ends when the new employee is fully up to speed. This process can take up to 8 months. 

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The Five Main Goals of Onboarding: Your Handy Checklist 

Onboarding has five main goals, and it helps to keep them in mind as you develop your onboarding strategy: 

  1. Motivate and support employees to perform quickly and independently 
  1. Align mutual expectations 
  1. Clarify how employees can contribute to organizational goals 
  1. Help employees connect with colleagues and the organization 
  1. Innovate from within the organization based on newcomer feedback 

What is employee onboarding? The definitive Effectory guide 

“Why Should I Care?” The Link Between Positive Onboarding Experiences and Business Success 

You may think it’s a stretch to say that an exceptional onboarding experience will impact the success of your business. To dispel any doubts, let’s take a look at the numbers.

Without a proper onboarding, you can expect 5% of new hires to quit immediately after a disastrous first day. A further 20% will leave within the first 45 days of employment. And nearly one in three new hires will say goodbye before the end of their first year. But when onboarding is effective, it not only prevents early departures, it also triggers a chain of positive reactions:  

  1. Greater employee engagement. Innovative onboarding programs foster relationship building, create a sense of team belonging, and ensure that your new hire is connected to the company’s culture and goals. 
  1. Increased commitment. New employees with a good onboarding experience are 18X more committed to their employer (Georgiev, 2023). 
  1. Lower employee turnover. An exceptional onboarding experience ensures 69% of employees stay at the company for the next three years. A standard onboarding experience boosts retention by 50% (Georgiev, 2023).  
  1. More innovation. 
  1. Stronger appeal to talent
  1. A positive impact on employer branding. 

Why is onboarding important? – Effectory   

Retention is the New Recruiting

The connection between great onboarding practices and an organization’s operational and financial success can be seen in increased engagement and motivation, a better customer experience, lower turnover and higher retention at a fraction of the cost of recruiting. In fact, the cost of replacing an employee can range from 50% to 150% of their annual salary. That’s a significant financial burden for any organization. This is illustrated by the staggering cost of voluntary turnover for U.S. companies. These lose more than a trillion dollars annually in recruiting, hiring, training, and lost productivity (“Exit Programs That Retain Stars and Build Brand Ambassadors,” 2018).

First impressions last: benefits of an onboarding survey – Effectory 


Leverage the insights of departing employees to uncover the hidden truths of your organization and reduce future turnover. Use this valuable knowledge to drive organizational excellence and retain talent.

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“What About My Employees Leaving?”: The Good, the Bad and the Exit Survey 

An exit program is a structured process implemented by an organization to manage the departure of employees. This includes both voluntary and involuntary departures. The primary component of an exit program is the exit survey, which is a questionnaire given to departing employees to collect their feedback, opinions, and insights about their time with the company. 

The Goals of Exit Surveys and Why They’re Important for Your Organization 

Exit surveys serve as a crucial tool for organizations to identify areas for improvement and reduce employee turnover. They help preserve institutional knowledge, enhance employer branding and even benchmark against competitors. By gathering insights from “Leavers”, organizations can proactively address the factors contributing to employee churn, and refine their recruitment and retention strategies. This ultimately creates a more attractive and competitive work environment. 

  • Uncover issues relating to HR (Spain & Groysberg, 2016). 
  • Understand employees’ perceptions of the work itself (Spain & Groysberg, 2016). 
  • Gain insight into managers’ leadership styles and effectiveness (Spain & Groysberg, 2016). 
  • Learn about HR benchmarks (salary, benefits) at competing organizations (Spain & Groysberg, 2016). 
  • Foster innovation by soliciting ideas for improving the organization (Spain & Groysberg, 2016). 
  • Create lifelong advocates for the organization. Employees who have a positive exit experience are 2.9 times more likely to recommend your organization to others than are those who have neutral or negative experiences (“Exit Programs That Retain Stars and Build Brand Ambassadors,” 2018; Spain & Groysberg, 2016). 

The Hidden Costs of Employee Churn

Employee churn, or turnover, comes with several hidden costs that can significantly impact an organization’s bottom line and overall performance. These costs include: 

  • Recruitment costs: Advertising, interviewing, and hiring new employees can be expensive and time-consuming. 
  • Training and onboarding: Bringing new employees up to speed involves investing time and resources in training and orientation. 
  • Lost productivity: It takes time for new hires to reach their full potential, resulting in a temporary dip in productivity. 
  • Disengagement: High turnover can lower morale and cause remaining employees to disengage, further impacting productivity. 
  • Loss of institutional knowledge: Departing employees take their expertise, skills, and experience with them, which can be difficult to replace. 
  • Impact on company reputation: Frequent employee churn can tarnish an organization’s image. Making it harder to attract top talent in the future. 

The most concerning part of the churn phenomenon is not even the cost of losing talent. It’s the fact that employee turnover is easily preventable! A Gallup study revealed that 52% of departing employees believe their manager or company could have taken action to prevent them from leaving. Additionally, less than half (45%) of these employees felt satisfied with the way their organization managed their exit process (“Exit Programs That Retain Stars and Build Brand Ambassadors,” 2018).  

Reduce Churn with Effective Exit & Onboarding Strategies 

But what can companies do to prevent churn and reduce turnover costs? Here are some examples of effective exit and onboarding strategies that can help you keep your employees engaged, happy and put: 

  • Conducting exit interviews/surveys: Gather feedback from departing employees to identify areas of improvement and uncover the reasons for their departure. This’ll help you make necessary changes to enhance the employee experience. 
  • Analyzing trends: Analyze the data collected from onboarding and exit surveys to identify patterns and trends in employee turnover and address any underlying issues. 
  • Strengthening communication: Maintain open lines of communication with employees, encouraging them to share feedback and voice their concerns. 
  • Offering professional development opportunities: Help employees grow and advance in their careers by providing access to training, resources, and development programs. 
  • Fostering a positive work and feedback culture: Create a supportive and inclusive environment where employees feel valued and engaged. Learn more about how you can build a thriving feedback culture here.
  • Regularly reviewing compensation and benefits: Ensure that your company’s compensation and benefits packages remain competitive in the market to attract and retain top talent. 
  • Implementing effective onboarding: Provide a comprehensive and engaging onboarding process that helps new hires acclimate quickly, understand their role and responsibilities, and build connections with their colleagues and the organization. 
  • Setting clear expectations: Clearly communicate job expectations, performance goals, and career advancement opportunities during the onboarding process. 
  • Assigning mentors or buddies: Pair new hires with experienced employees who can guide and support them during their initial weeks or months in the organization. At Effectory, this is called the “Buddy Program”.
  • Continuously improving the onboarding experience: Regularly gather feedback from new hires on their onboarding experience and make improvements as needed. 

By implementing these exit and onboarding strategies, organizations can better understand and address the factors contributing to employee churn, ultimately leading to higher retention rates and a more positive work environment. 

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Georgiev, D. (2023, February 6). 33 Startling Employee Onboarding Statistics to Know in 2023. Techjury.

Exit Programs That Retain Stars and Build Brand Ambassadors. (2018). In Gallup. Gallup, Inc. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from 

Spain, E., & Groysberg, B. (2016, June 9). Making Exit Interviews Count. Harvard Business Review.