With companies focused on reducing employee turnover and improving employee engagement, why aren’t more companies leveraging the use of exit interviews (aka employee exit surveys)?
Businesses today are paying top dollar to recruit, hire, and train talent. Yet, those budgets seem to run dry at one of the most crucial times of the employer-employee relationship.
Exiting employees are inevitable.
Every employer-employee relationship will end. The choice for employers, however, is to identify and remedy WHY employees leave prematurely.
Why People Quit
There’s valuable information to be gained from separating employees, regardless of whether it’s from resignation, termination, or involuntary layoff.
Resigning employees quit their jobs and have a multitude of reasons for leaving employers, including:
- Conflicts with their managers
- Lack of a proper salary
- Inability to gain promotions
- Commute reduction to/from work and/or clients
- Secure better working hours
- Temper stress levels
Employers may not have much control over some of these reasons. However, when a department manager is unfair/demanding to support staff, the employer would be wise to learn about this in an exit interview BEFORE hiring that new replacement.
The insight that departing employees can provide goes well beyond just identifying bad bosses or pointing out conflicts/complications between employees and management.
An exiting employee can also help employers understand things like:
- Areas of the business that need improvement
- The systems and processes that need attention
- Gaps in manpower/staff performance
- Issues with clients
- Internal compliance concerns
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Why Employers Should Tend to Departing Employees
Employers are bottom-line driven.
By interviewing departing employees, employers can track and act on the exit interview data, which directly affects sales, revenue, future hiring, and so on.
The information gained from exit interviews can also help with…
…retaining top talent; e.g., healthy, positive workplace.
…keeping a more balanced company culture; e.g., family-like business atmosphere.
…achieving work-life balance for employees; e.g., flexible work schedule.
…boosting productivity and employee morale; e.g., reducing unnecessary bottlenecks and processes.
Let’s not also forget exit interviews help to protect an employer’s reputation and brand.
Therefore, it’s essential now more than ever that employers take an active role in managing their reputations from possible disgruntled exiting employees and promote employment-retention activities.
And, because jobseekers research employers BEFORE accepting new jobs, employers would be wise to avoid losing out on the recruitment and hiring of new superstar employees because of negative online reviews.
[Related Article: Tools & Strategies to Research Potential Employers]
When Should These Type of Interviews Be Conducted?
There are two rules of thought on this.
An exit interview can get conducted while the employee is still on the payroll or up to three months after separation.
Not all employees will be happy about departing their employers. This is why you should consider the professional’s anger level, distrust/disinterest in helping the employer, etc.
The fear of repercussion also plays a key role.
For example, a newly departed professional (or about to be) may be hesitant to give candid feedback or say anything negative about the company.
There’s always the fear of receiving a bad reference for revealing a manager’s poor management style, shedding light on poor working conditions, and the like.
Whereas, an employee who has been separated for a couple of months and employed by another company, may be apt to divulge in-depth details relating to their departure.
10 Example Exit Questions For In-Person Interviews
The goal for any HR manager conducting an exit interview is to ask as many open-ended questions as possible.
This means that the departing employee has the opportunity to give in-depth instead of basic (e.g., yes or no) answers.
A list of example exit interview questions include:
1. In your opinion, what was the biggest challenge FOR THE DEPARTMENT?
2. How can we improve the job, the department, and the team to impove future performance?
3. Where did YOU struggle most?
4. Was there something we could have done to help you overcame this challenge?
5. What tools and new processes do you recommend to help us improve your coworkers going forward?
6. Be as forthright as possible, what made you decide to leave our employment?
7. What advice can you give us to prevent great talent like you from leaving us too prematurely?
8. What advice do you have for your successor?
9. How could we have done better by you?
10. If the opportunity arose, would you consider coming back?
Human resources managers will find that having the right practices and policies in place will go a long way to systemizing how departing employees get processed.
For example, exit interviews may want to be reserved for voluntary separations and not for employees who’ve been subjected to firings or layoffs due to poor performance.
These tools are on the rise as employers attempt to remove themselves from the process in order to gain more objective and revealing employee feedback.
Because employees work on the front lines of businesses every day, they should be the go-to when HR managers are looking for new employee retention strategies.
When exit interviews are performed on every departing employee, just think of the information that would get compiled and used to improve employee happiness and performance.