Exit interviews help organizations understand the reasons employees leave a company or organization and what can be done to avoid unwanted employee turnover. By getting feedback from employees after they have decided to leave an organization, human resources and business leaders can gain insights to help retain talent, prevent bad hires, improve management practices and ultimately drive organizational performance.
Preventing unwanted attrition
Unwanted attrition occurs when a valuable employee leaves an organization 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 organizations 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 organizations 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.
How to increase exit interview response rates
Generally, only about one-third of employees leaving an organization 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 organization. They are less likely to respond to the survey once they have left the organization.
- 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.