Exit Interviews

Exit interviews help organisations understand the reasons employees leave a company or organisation and what can be done to avoid unwanted employee turnover. By getting feedback from employees after they have decided to leave an organisation, human resources and business leaders can gain insights to help retain talent, prevent bad hires, improve management practices and ultimately drive organisational performance.

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When administering exit interviews, organisations should consider the following:

  • Online surveys Administering employee exit interviews through a standard survey or online questionnaire can result in more candid feedback and more useful data.
  • Data correlation Tying turnover data to employee engagement or performance data can help organisations easily identify unwanted and wanted attrition.
  • Longitudinal tracking Tracking trends in employee exit interview responses over time allows you to measure improvements made and identify further preventative action.

Preventing unwanted attrition

Unwanted attrition occurs when a valuable employee leaves an organisation for reasons that could have been prevented. Unwanted attrition generally results from employee job dissatisfaction, employees not feeling valued, poor management practices, the lack of advancement opportunity and occasionally harassment by or conflict with a co-worker or manager, etc.

Exit interviews help organisations identify the causes of unwanted attrition and subsequently make changes to reduce it in future. Of course, it’s always better to get this information through regular reviews and open dialogue before losing a great employee, but at the very least, exit interviews provide useful data to prevent further losses in the future. Where more serious employee relations issues are behind unwanted attrition, exit surveys give organisations the chance to uncover and prevent any future harassment or issues which could potentially result in litigation. Additionally, exit surveys allow employers to understand drivers of attrition that need to be addressed within different cohorts and teams.

Drivers of Employee Attrition

How to increase exit interview response rates

Generally, only about one-third of employees leaving an organisation complete an exit interview. There are also a few rules of thumb to increase response rates:

  • Make the exit interview part of the standard off-boarding process.
  • Administer exit interviews and collect responses online. Online exit interviews respondents tend to be more candid and willing to share specific experiences.
  • Administer exit interviews after employees decide to leave but just before leaving the organisation. They are less likely to respond to the survey once they have left the organisation.
  • Keep employee exit interview questions short and simple by focusing on evaluating different job components and identifying needed changes.
  • Weigh carefully the inclusion of any questions about feelings and emotions as this is particularly difficult, especially if the employee has been terminated from the job.
  • Ensure exiting employees that the HR team will evaluate their ratings and comments, and that comments will not be directly shared with their former supervisor or co-workers.
  • If respondents make suggestions, send a note thanking them for their honesty and explain how their feedback will be used.