The importance of exit interviews

26 / 02 / 20

No matter how good your business culture, how wonderful your learning & development program, how fantastic your business leaders, there's one inevitable – Employees will leave. Whether it’s for a change in career, to look after their newly formed family, or simply because it’s time for a change, unfortunately you won’t be able to hold on to each and every employee, especially in this day and age. However, at the point of someone leaving, it’s imperative that you hold an exit interview to assess the overall employee experience and as a result, identify opportunities to improve retention and engagement.

How exit interviews can help your business

  1. Help to improve staff retention
    As we’re sure you know, high staff turnover is expensive because recruiting, inducting and training new staff is costly. Hence the reason businesses aim to retain and develop talent, whenever possible. Exit interviews are a fantastic way of gaining insight into why people are deciding to leave your business and hence will contribute to offering a solution to the issue of high turnover. By using the same questions, you can start to build data and reveal patterns of why people are leaving. You can then begin to tackle these issues.
  2. Improve culture and performance
    Arguably, exit interviews are impartial because your soon to be ex-employees tend to be more honest and forthcoming regarding their feelings about your company. You are more likely to learn the real reason an employee is leaving and it may be different to what you think or were initially led to believe. They are more likely to give you a candid assessment of your culture. Therefore, you’re gathering accurate insights about your organisation. As a result, these insights can aid to inform your organisational strategy, thus leading to action which will improve your overall business culture.
  3. Allows you to tackle issues which need tending to immediately
    Are there any issues which require your immediate attention which can help to reduce risk? It could be that there are some serious issues within your team/s and you could risk losing more employees if these aren't resolved quickly.
  4. Improve recruitment
    Exit interviews can give you valuable insight into the recruitment, onboarding/induction and training needs of your business. Where are you doing well and where are you falling short? This information can also help to align employee expectations with their actual job roles – For example, if employees consistently complain their job is more technical than expected, the problem isn’t necessarily with the organisation or the role itself. It could be the company simply needs to include more detail in your job descriptions to ensure applicants are aware of what the role entails and can therefore make an informed decision to apply. This way they are more likely to enjoy their role and stay with your company.
  5. Improve learning and development strategies
    Exit interviews may well reveal the need for a better learning and development strategy within your business. If employees don’t feel supported or challenged in their roles, then it’s more likely they will leave. It will also flag-up opportunities in management development and succession planning.

Tips for conducting an effective exit interview

  • Ensure your managers have a general understanding of the purpose of the exit interview.
  • If an employee is less likely to give honest answers if their line manager is conducting the interview, choose somebody ‘neutral’ to undertake the interview instead.
  • Conduct the interview as soon as possible after the employee has tendered their resignation, rather than waiting until the end of their notice period. This will ensure their reasons for leaving are fresh in their mind and at this point they are still engaged.
  • Preparation is key - Managers should follow a checklist of questions during the interview. The checklist should also prompt the manager of the steps to take post interview which is especially important if the exit interview were to uncover a grievance.
  • As with a probationary review or a PDR it’s a good idea to give the employee an opportunity to think about their time with the company and prepare their answers to some if not all of the questions. Therefore, when sending them their exit interview invitation, include an exit interview questionnaire for them to complete.

Types of questions you should include

As you can see from the above, these interviews can bring incredible value to your company. However, to do so, they need to be executed properly by asking consistent and relevant questions. The following are types of questions you could include:

  • What was your main reason for leaving the company?
  • Why did you ultimately accept the new position?
  • Satisfaction ratings for the following: Induction, Training, Career development, Promotion opportunities, Business Culture, Work Environment, Pay & Benefits
  • Did you fully understand your role?
  • Did you have the necessary equipment to undertake your role effectively?
  • Was the volume of work reasonable?
  • What was your job satisfaction level
  • Did you require sufficient support from your seniors?
  • How were your relationships with your colleagues?
  • Should the business make amendments to the role as it currently stands?
  • Have you ever encountered any issues in your role?
  • What could have been done to encourage you to stay in this role?

Creating and implementing an effective exit interview survey can appear challenging and time-consuming at first. However, the information gleaned from such research will be priceless to the retention rates of invaluable employees and ultimately the growth of your business. So, if you need help with your exit interview preparation or any of the related topics such as Learning & Development, employee retention and company culture, please do not hesitate to contact us now on: 01453 297557 or send an email to enquiries@peepshr.co.uk


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