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Tackling turnover? Here’s why you should prioritize exit interviews

When you get notice that an employee is leaving, you might start thinking about next steps right away. Tasks like finding a replacement and creating a transition plan are likely at the top of your mind. But there’s one crucial task to add to your to-do list: an exit interview.

Exit interviews are one of the most powerful tools for businesses looking to retain and attract employees. During exit interviews, you can have an open discussion with a departing employee and get honest feedback about your organization.

There are predictions that the Great Resignation is here. A survey found that 49 percent of Canadians are seriously considering leaving their current job. When turnover happens, it can be difficult to part ways with a team member—but exit interviews offer a bit of a silver lining. Conducting an exit interview gives you an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and continually improve your organization.

Here are a few ways that exit interviews can help your organization reduce turnover and improve your operations:

Gather valuable information about why employees are leaving

There are many different reasons why someone might leave a company, from lack of advancement opportunities to stress and burnout or simply finding an opportunity that aligns more with their career goals. An exit interview can help you uncover your employee’s motivation for leaving.

By asking a departing employee for a candid assessment of your organization and work culture, you may discover some organizational shortcomings. Exit interviews can give you rich data, and from that, you may begin to see trends and patterns.

Exit interviews often illuminate issues that may not even be on your radar. For example, two in five Canadians surveyed said they have quit their job because of a bad boss. Yet sometimes management issues can be hard to spot. Team members may have different experiences with the same manager, or some may hesitate to bring up issues for fear of consequences. Exit interviews are an ideal time to ask tough questions so you can get an honest insight into organizational issues.

A few questions you may want to ask:

  • Why did you start looking for another opportunity?
  • Were you comfortable talking to your manager?
  • What could we have done better?

Provide closure and create advocates for your organization

A good exit interview can set the stage for an amicable goodbye. While the interview is an opportunity to gather important feedback, it is also a good time to express gratitude for the employee’s work and time at the company. By ending a professional relationship respectfully and courteously, your former employees may end up referring business or job candidates to you in the future, or even return to your company one day.

Giving departing employees a chance to share feedback also shows that you value their perspective and truly want to improve your organization. Exit interviews are a chance for employees to get things off their chest—and that sense of closure can make all the difference.

A few questions you may want to ask:

  • Would you recommend our company to a friend seeking employment?
  • Would you consider coming back to work here in the future?
  • If you could change anything about your job or the company, what would you change?

Suss out competing organizations

In a survey by LifeWorks, 74% of Canadians said they would leave a job that they are happy with for an increase in salary. Financial wellness is at the top of people’s mind and, for some, higher pay is enough to sway them towards another organization. Exit interviews can help you keep an eye on your competitors. By asking a departing employee about the salary rates at other organizations, you can find out how you measure up against the competition.

You may discover that there are other perks and benefits that are luring your employees towards other companies. Incentives like flexible work hours and employee education plans can be very enticing to job candidates, so it’s important to understand how your company’s benefits compare to industry standards.

A few questions you may want to ask:

  • What does your new position offer that influenced your decision to leave?
  • What are you most looking forward to in your new job?
  • Were you satisfied with the employee benefits offered?

Improve your employee engagement strategy

It’s important to ask for feedback throughout an employee’s time at a company. Exit interviews can be a great way to assess how engaged your employee felt throughout their employment and how workplace culture could be improved.

While exit interviews are one means of engagement, they should be part of a broader and continuing engagement program. Pulse surveys, regular one-on-one meetings between managers and their employees, and other means of collecting feedback can all help increase workplace engagement. Stay interviews in particular are growing in popularity. These interviews are similar to exit interviews but are conducted with employees who are staying with the organization rather than leaving it. Conducting stay interviews can help you gauge your employees’ satisfaction, what is keeping them around, and what might tempt them to leave.

A few questions you may want to ask:

  • Did you feel like a valuable part of the company?
  • How would you describe our company culture?
  • What do you think about the feedback culture of our company?

Ready to make the most of exit interviews?

Exit interviews are an excellent opportunity to find out important information that can help you improve your business. By collecting exit interview data, you can look for trends, seek solutions to systemic problems, and improve the employee experience for current and future staff.

To help you leverage exit interviews to improve your retention efforts, our HR experts have put together a FREE Guide to Conducting Effective Exit Interviews. In this guide, you will find tips on:

  • Implementing an exit interview policy;
  • Encouraging honest and open feedback; and
  • Analysing exit interview data and finding solutions.

Download now!