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Exit Interview Programs

Why Some Exit Interview Programs Don’t Deliver the Expected Results

The bad news is that interactions with business executives and experts in the HR domain found that more than half of exit interview programs do not deliver the advertised results. The results seen are not meaningful for organizational change. 

The three most common reasons cited for exit interview program failure are:

  1. Difficulty in sending, managing, and collecting the surveys 

  2. The exit survey completion rates are generally lower

  3. The program did not provide useful information that could initiate change

The right time to conduct employee exit interviews. A productive exit interview process does the following:

  • Creates a positive and meaningful change

  • Uses multiple exit survey tools to comprehend the work environment

  • Ensures attention is focused on areas that they can influence and not on what’s outside their power or control

Planning, building, and executing effective exit interviews can sometimes feel like a huge challenge that takes a lot of time. There can be a lot of unwanted noise from the exit survey results, which demands that leaders have a laser eye focus on variables that have a direct impact on generating significant change to the organization. There needs to be a deep understanding of the link between employee feedback, their behavior, and various developments so that meaningful recommendations for the organization are prioritized at a faster rate. 

Wherever possible, it’s important to ensure that the departing employees participate in their exit interview before their last day. The employee retention experts at Retensa found that the survey completion rates are 20-30% higher the week before an employee separates rather than after they leave. 

The most effective exit interview questions are oriented towards action and go over these five five key areas:

  1. Why they liked working at the organization (culture, salary/benefits, responsibilities)

  2. Reasons for leaving (salary/benefits, management, other opportunity)

  3. Suggestions for future changes

  4. Employer-employee relationship (Degree of fairness, respect, appreciation, clear direction)

  5. Unaddressed concerns (Did they raise a concern with HR? What concerns still remain?)

Delivering the Best Exit Interview Program

Let’s hear the good news. There are many techniques to implement an effective exit interview process. Overall, it’s vital to give employees a safe environment and space to express their honest views. This ensures that they provide authentic feedback during the exit interview, leads them to closure, and increases their chances of leaving on good terms. Employees that provide the most insightful exit survey results are those who answer the questions in a safe and comfortable environment where they can express how they truly feel and are able to trust the surveyors with confidential information. 

Conducting exit interviews with an external third-party is one of the best ways to guarantee this comfort and trustworthiness for employee feedback. Normally employees avoid burning bridges with existing organization team members, so a third-party ensures that they can express themselves and not hold back their honest perspectives. A trained and competent third-party exit interview consultant can conduct the interview in such a manner that the employee feels safe and comfortable to open up and answer more questions during the interview process.

There are exit interview companies in the industry that automate the whole program starting from exit survey tools to the final turnkey reports. They organize and streamline the whole process to ensure that it remains simple and consistent. These companies also provide turnover analysis reports and they interpret surveys to highlight the key action areas based on the results from their effective exit interview questions. 

Exit interview results and actions to take 

Exit interviews provide an honest assessment of the organization’s work environment and culture. The answers from the exit interview reports can and will often lead to major changes and new initiatives in many key areas including:

  1. Talent acquisition

  2. Employee onboarding and orientation

  3. Team development

  4. Training courses for Managers

  5. Work-life balance policies

  6. Compensation adjustments (base pay and/or bonus)

Action is required when many employees provide similar responses. When a company implements changes based on the exit survey results, that is the time when the true benefit of the survey is reached. It sends a message to the whole organization that leadership is listening and they value the team’s honest opinions. This has a direct impact on boosting employee morale and productivity, and it is a major reason that 92% of mid-size and large companies conduct exit surveys for at least some separating employees. The biggest wins are derived when improvements are targeted on the Top 5 reasons for employee leaving. 

If the top leadership and HR department focuses on the data driven insights and key action items from the exit interview questions and results, it can derive a meaningful change that will ensure the organization’s retention strategy is aligned with the company culture. When this happens, it will have a positive ripple effect on employee motivation and engagement. All employees have different expectations from their workplace culture and environment and the combined feedback makes it easier for the organization and leaders to focus and prioritize on improving the employee experience. This feedback and implementation cycle promotes employee loyalty and motivation, which has an impact on reducing employee turnover. 

Although some exit interview programs fail, there are many successful exit interview questions and strategies that produce measurable results. When these programs are implemented, they provide valuable and effective data and insights that have an influence on increasing employee retention.

Devoreaux LaVoie

Exit Interview Expert, ExitPro Exit Interview Software

United States of America, New York, New York

Devoreaux LaVoie is an exit interview expert with ExitPro and has extensive experience in talent acquisition, development, and employee retention. Specializing in training services, survey design, and global exit interview solutions. Devoreaux customizes an exit interview program to capture the primary drivers of turnover and mitigate the social & cultural impacts of employee resignations.