How to Measure New Hire Time to Productivity and Encourage Better Performance
Are you tired of the guessing game when evaluating your new hires' performance?
- How long do new hires need to become productive?
- Do hires in other companies catch up faster than yours?
The truth is, it depends—on your industry, job role, seniority level, and onboarding process.
However, certain factors and processes can improve your new hire's time to productivity.
You'll need to measure the right metrics to track their progress and provide actionable steps to encourage top-notch performance. The time to productivity is such a metric.
This article will cover everything there is to know about this indicator and how to drive your new hire performance to new heights.
✈️ What is new hire time to productivity?
New hire time to productivity is an indicator measuring how long it takes a new employee to add value to your company from the start date.
You can see it as a measure of new hire performance and a metric used to measure the effectiveness of your onboarding process since supporting hires from the get-go improves their time to productivity.
Mark Pierce, CEO of Cloud Peak Law Group, can relate. He shares, "The biggest factor that impacts a new hire's time to productivity is the amount of support they get in their first month on the job. The more support a new hire has in direct instruction from their manager, the quicker they'll become productive."
🔍 Why track time to productivity?
Gauge your onboarding process
New hire time to productivity is an excellent way to gauge if you're onboarding employees well.
"If new hires are taking longer to become productive, it may be an indication that we need to make some changes to our onboarding program." Michelle Hague, HR Manager at Solar Panels Network USA.
One of our customers, Alasco, experienced this firsthand.
Before using Zavvy's employee onboarding software, Alasco followed a steep manual onboarding process, introducing new hires to their assigned tasks via emails, product demos, and other onboarding documents.
But as the company scaled and embraced a remote-friendly work environment, it became increasingly hard to keep up with onboarding demands, and the time-to-productivity of new hires began to dwindle.
They leveraged Zavvy's employee onboarding software to:
- Automate their onboarding process.
- Create a unified onboarding journey.
- Provide team-specific introductions.
👀 Their results? Cutting the time-to-productivity by half. Now, new employees are becoming productive within two weeks. Are you tired of the guessing game when evaluating your new hires' performance?
Assess your company's health
A healthy organization naturally impacts the productivity and morale of employees.
A divided leadership team can affect communication and clarity within the organization, which ultimately affects the performance of a new hire and the ability of the company to retain talents.
By measuring new employees' time to productivity, the organization can quickly identify disruptions to the organization's health and fix them before they affect the entire workforce.
"If new hires are having a hard time becoming productive, it may be an indication that something is wrong with the way we're doing business," says HR Manager Michelle Hague.
Evaluate employee performance
The probation period gives employers and employees enough time to decide if the employment arrangement suits both parties.
With productivity metrics like time-to-productivity, you can analyze a new employee's performance during probation and discover if they are happy with the job and employment terms.
"Our agency offers a buy-out offer at 60 days so individuals who aren't a good fit can find a better career, and we use productivity metrics for those first two months to determine their success so far." — Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism.
Low productivity from new hires can cause companies to lose 1-2.5% in revenue.
When employees become productive more quickly, they can contribute to the company's success sooner, leading to improved revenue.
A streamlined onboarding process reduces the time it takes for new hires to reach their full potential, ensuring that they can generate value for the company faster.
Additionally, efficient onboarding can lead to higher employee engagement and reduced turnover, which further contributes to increased revenue by reducing hiring and training costs.
📏 How do I calculate time to productivity?
Defining what "full productivity" means for your organization is the best place to start.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Reaching a specific goal.
- Completing training.
- Meeting certain performance targets.
Tip #1: If you use reaching specific goals to indicate productivity, set clear role-related KPIs.
For example, for a content writer, a goal can be publishing their first article.
For a product manager, you can consider them productive after launching their first feature.
For an accountant, you can consider them fully productive when they reach a specific cost per invoice or error resolution time.
Once you've defined the meaning of "full productivity," it's time to start tracking.
Track the start date of each new hire and the date they reach total productivity.
To calculate the time to productivity:
- Subtract the start date from the date of full productivity to get the number of days it took for each new hire to reach total productivity.
- Average the number of days for all new hires to get the average time to productivity for your organization.
- Compare this average with industry standards and set goals for improvement if necessary.
Andrew Gonzale, President at Business Loans, adds: "Once you have established what success looks like, you can calculate how long it takes new hires to achieve it. Simply sum up the number of days since the start of their tenure until they reach their KPIs. Then, take an average by totaling the number of days per hire and dividing it by your number of new hires."
Tip #2: Consider billable vs. learning hours. Knowing how much time an employee learns the ropes and how well they invest that knowledge in each task/assignment helps you measure their time to productivity.
Ashley Woodyatt, HR Manager at Woodyatt Curtains, says her organization calculates the time to productivity by tracking the billable vs. learning hours from week one of employment. "Depending on their role, we set a metric by when new hires should be on more billable than learning hours."
🕖 How long does it take an employee to be fully productive?
According to a Gallup report, a new employee takes around 12 months to become fully productive in their new role.
A graphic illustration from Human Panel showing the lifecycle of an employee indicates that it takes around 8-10 months for a new hire to reach their full productivity.
However, not all industries are the same.
Some industries and roles may have longer ramp-up times, while others may have a shorter adjustment period.
Henry Miller, a co-founder of StarRegister, says:
"From my experience with new hires, it takes about 3-4 days to get them up-to-speed with the program and sync with the rest of our staff.
It's a question of slowly allowing them to learn the importance of our work, let them "sink their teeth" into the job, and give them an idea of how each project interacts with others."
🏆 5 Factors contributing to your new hire's time to productivity
A structured onboarding process
62% of businesses with effective onboarding programs witness a 54% increase in employee engagement and a higher time-to-productivity ratio.
A well-structured onboarding program will include on-the-job learning and offer opportunities for new hires to build concrete relationships with key stakeholders, managers, and peers.
"If the new hire has a clear roadmap to follow for their onboarding that helps to fully prepare them for the job, they'll be productive more quickly. The onboarding process should be designed to provide the new hire with knowledge of company policies and procedures and help them learn any specific skills for the job." Logan Mallory, VP at Motivosity, an employee engagement company.
🚀 Discover how to design an effective employee onboarding strategy. You'll find multiple tips to increase new hire engagement, productivity, and retention.
The complexity of the role
If a new hire starts a complex job requiring intensive training, they will likely take longer to become productive.
They must also become familiar with your processes and tools to add value faster.
Tip: A recruit who undergoes training is more likely to be productive than one who doesn't. So you must ensure your new hire training programs are updated with relevant content.
💪 We've gathered 15 best practices for effectively training your new employees.
The size of the company
Larger companies often have more complex roles and systems, which can take longer for new employees to understand and become fully proficient.
Conversely, smaller companies may have more straightforward roles and systems, allowing new employees to reach total productivity faster.
"The size of the company can impact new hire time to productivity. For example, in a large company, there may be more bureaucracy and red tape that new hires have to wade through before they can start being productive." Michelle Hague, HR Manager.
However, larger companies often have more resources to support new hires, such as training programs, mentorship, and access to tools and technology. Any available resources will help speed up the time for a new employee to reach full productivity.
Conversely, smaller companies may have fewer resources available, which can lengthen the adjustment period.
The culture of the organization
"If the company has a fast-paced or competitive culture, new hires may feel pressure to perform quickly. On the other hand, if the company has a more relaxed culture, new hires may take a bit longer to settle in," says Michelle Hague.
A culture that fosters open communication and encourages employees to ask questions and seek help can help new hires overcome challenges and reach total productivity faster.
Google is a perfect example of this: they did an internal study that shows that new hires who asked for feedback were more productive than those who didn't.
🤖 Learn how Google onboards their new hires and how you can easily replicate it.
The company's support system
CEO of Cloud Peak Law Group, Mark Pierce, says: "If new hires are left on their on during their onboarding by simply being given a checklist or document or online training to follow, they'll take a long time to be productive. On the other hand, if they are provided with hands on training and feedback, they'll get up to speed faster."
Tip: Collect employee feedback throughout the onboarding period to determine whether they need additional help settling in.
💡 6 Strategies to lower the new hire time to productivity in your organization
Focus on role clarity and performance expectations
Your new hires can't become productive without properly understanding the tasks, expectations, and functions they will undertake.
Tip #1: Itemize deliverables and set KPIs to track progress.
Tip #2: Ensure you detail each role clearly defined and assign a seniority level. In this way, there will be no doubts about what each employee and their colleagues are responsible for.
🌱 Zavvy's employee growth solutions support organizations in creating relevant competency frameworks and clarifying roles.
Offer various types of training
Your new employee training should include:
- Technical training and role-based training teach specific skills required to perform the job effectively.
For example, if hiring a sales rep, create sales team-specific onboarding to help new hires contribute to the company's bottom line faster.
- Product training will ensure all new joiners understand your industry, market, and product.
Tip: Consider diving deeper into product knowledge depending on the new hire's role.
- Security training: You wouldn't want your new hires to compromise data security. Cybersecurity awareness, phishing training, and password best practices are must-have studies for your new hire training.
🔐 Are you still missing a data security training course for your employees? Then, check out the course developed by Zavvy's learning scientists.
Use microlearning to promote learning
Companies like Google, Walmart, and Nextworth use microlearning to supercharge employee performance without eating into their busy work schedules.
Microlearning involves sending daily nuggets of information, lessons, or training courses that take 10-15 minutes to complete. This bite-sized training is offered via email series, videos, infographics, or an app nudge to complete a game or quiz. It tricks the human brain into retaining more information while committing fewer hours.
Freeletics, an app-based AI coach, collaborated with Zavvy to increase employee training engagement.
The Freeletics team was willing to empower employees with new training concepts.
Still, with overwhelming daily tasks, employees couldn't practice what they had learned. So training would take the back seat and get lost over time.
With Zavvy, they created engaging new hire onboarding and training journeys.
The content combines external knowledge, internal documentation, and how-tos - combining different media types into one diversified experience. This way, every people manager can move through their onboarding experience individually and at their own pace.
Create a training plan
An excellent employee training plan sets out the learning outcomes, tracks progress, and effectiveness indicators for training new employees across the organization.
Examine current skills, identify knowledge gaps, and align training with business goals for best results.
Tip: Leverage a training management system to organize training instead of relying on spreadsheets and email chains. With a TMS, you can unify course materials into a single dashboard and track each employee's training progress.
💡 Check out 10+ training plan examples.
Break onboarding into phases
There are three fundamental reasons why we recommend breaking the onboarding into phases to accelerate new hire productivity:
- Breaking onboarding into phases sets clear expectations for what the new hire should know and be able to do at each stage of the process.
- Multiple phases allow for early assessment of the new hire's progress and performance. For example, with a 30-60-90 onboarding framework, you can conduct new hire performance review meetings at the end of each stage. As a result, you'll be able to identify any challenges or obstacles early on and provide additional support and training where needed.
- By breaking the process into phases, HR professionals can provide focused training and support in each area, which can help the new hire quickly acquire the knowledge and skills needed to reach full productivity.
Offer mentoring opportunities
Most small companies don't offer hands-on support to their recruits.
As a result, new hires can feel isolated from the rest of the organization, reducing their chances of succeeding in their new working environment.
Mentorship programs are an excellent strategy for assisting your new hires and accelerating performance:
- Mentors can provide new hires access to valuable expertise and experience, which can help them overcome challenges.
- Mentors can provide new hires with a deeper understanding of the organization's culture, values, and norms, which can help them acclimate to their new role and reach full productivity faster.
- Mentorship programs allow new hires to build relationships with other employees and expand their network within the organization, enhancing their overall performance and supporting their growth.
➡️ Accelerate your new employees' time to productivity with Zavvy
Freelatics, Alasco, Storyblock, and Roadsurfer reduced their new hire time to productivity using Zavvy.
Zavvy is an employee enablement platform used to:
- Create structured onboarding journeys with quizzes and videos.
- Automate repetitive processes and notifications.
- Integrate with other HR tools like BambooHR, Slack, and Personio, to name a few.
With Zavvy, the employee experience does not stop at onboarding.
Zavvy lets you run people development, training, performance, and engagement like innovative tech giants.
All in one tool and at the most affordable price.
Book a 30-minute demo to see it all in action.