People leave organizations every day. It’s part of the lifecycle of every employee, and the vast majority of people will go through exit at some point in their careers.
But where employee turnover becomes a business-critical issue is when it’s ‘unwanted attrition’ – losing high performing or highly engaged employees.
What Causes 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 conflict with a co-worker or manager, etc.
These are all typically things that build up over time and the trigger can occur at any stage in the employee lifecycle.
The key to reducing unwanted attrition is to understand the causes, why they happened and what you can do to prevent the same things happening to other high-performing employees.
The Power of Exit Interviews
An exit interview should be seen as a means to an end – the goal is not to prevent the employee giving the interview from leaving, but instead to learn from it and use it to gain insights to help retain talent, prevent bad hires, improve management practices and ultimately drive organizational performance.
In order to drive these outcomes, however, you need to have an employee engagement program that pulls all your employee lifecycle feedback into a single, holistic program.
Exit interviews are a great way to understand at scale why employees are leaving. But unless this data combined with feedback from other stages in the lifecycle or with operational data such as staff turnover figures, it’s difficult to implement improvement actions to remedy the situation.
Say for example you see a trend that a growing number of employees are leaving because of a lack of career progression. In a siloed data system, your analysis would stop here.
But say instead you had a single system, with employee feedback and operational data from across the full employee lifecycle in a single data warehouse. You might then see that while lack of career progression is a key driver of attrition for the organization as a whole when data is correlated with 360 performance review data, you see that amongst ‘top performers’ the key driver of attrition is a lack of opportunities to try out new things in their role.
So you’ve now been able to identify the cause of attrition amongst your best people and what’s more, you can dig deeper to identify trends from other feedback sources like onboarding surveys, engagement surveys and other moments along the lifecycle to identify exactly where the trigger points are. It could be down to poor communication from their managers for example.
Now, you have a root cause and already a potential solution, allowing you to work with managers to put action plans in place to improve communication and ultimately, reduce unwanted attrition.
Bringing your exit interview data into the same system as your other employee feedback allows you to make connections that simply weren’t possible before. It helps you to understand not only what’s causing attrition amongst your best people, but also when and how you need to step in to prevent it from happening.