Exit Interviews: The Best Case Study to Tackle Your Employee Retention Issues

Continuing our discussion on the issue of employee retention, this week’s blog will be focusing on another inevitable process in HR – saying good bye to some of your employees. Although ideally you would hope that your new hires can stay at your company forever, that just simply is not possible in the real world. Before sending your previous employees on to the next step of their career, consider conducting an exit interview. Since there is less pressure on a departing employee to “look good”, you may even gain new insights on management and specific work funnels that would have otherwise been difficult to gather through current working members. Read on to find out how an exit interview can help you tackle employee retention issues in the future!

Why Exit Interview?

Despite efforts done by HR to conduct performance appraisals and regular check ups with employees, there are still many issues that are often left unaddressed due to various reasons. Even when promised anonymity, some employees may still be reluctant to be 100% honest with their response for fear of any personal information slipping out. For example, an employee may be hesitant to directly express their dissatisfaction towards their manager. Since it’s someone they’ll have to work directly with everyday, some individuals may not want to get on the “bad side” of their supervisors. This is why having HR specifically conduct exit interviews provide an invaluable opportunity to hear the true opinions of your employees.

Since your employee has already decided that they will be leaving the company, many will no longer be afraid of any potential consequences they believe will (and in some cases, in actuality) come with speaking out. By having HR conduct this exit interview, employees can speak about many work related comments that HR was previously not directly involved in like a manager would have been – providing a more objective ear. Furthermore, any arrangements or discussions taking place after their interview, for many, will no longer affect their career. This allow employees to be more frank with their interview as they don’t have much to lose.

Some Helpful Points to Tackle

To make the most out of your exit interview, consider asking some of the following questions!

  • What prompted you to look for a new job?

As elementary as the question may be, it is also arguably the most informative question in an exit interview. When dealing with employee retention problems, you want to not only know what keeps your employees, but also what are some things that may drive them away.

  • What made you decide to accept the new job?

When frustrated and unhappy with their current work, it is not uncommon for employees to begin searching casually to see what other opportunities are out there. However, it takes more than curiosity for an employee to go through with resigning at their current job and starting a new one. The answer to this question will give you a chance to see how your company compares to competitors from an employee’s perspective.

  • How would you describe our company culture? Was the environment one that fosters growth or inhibited it?

Pay and specific work tasks are not the only reason an employee may feel unsatisfied with their current job. Asking specifically about culture – whether it’s relating to diversity & inclusivity, or growth and development – the answer you get will no doubt provide great insight on what initiatives may be worthwhile to look into.

  • What is something that could have been done to make you stay?

The answer to this question may have already risen from previous exchanges in the exit interview, but its importance still makes it worthwhile to ask directly one more time. This gives your employee another chance to express anything that they may have left out before. Keep in mind that this is no longer a negotiation to try and keep your employee now – that boat has since sailed. Rather, it is for your future reference.

Questions to Avoid

  • Do not directly ask about specific people.

Even though the employee will no longer be working under your company, they may still want to maintain a good relationship with their ex-colleagues. By name dropping a coworker and expecting feedback, you are putting the employee on the spot. As a result, they may feel very uncomfortable, and you would also not get the feedback that you had in mind. In the case where you feel that a specific employee is directly linked to the departure of another, try asking more roundabout and general questions that will give your leaving employee a chance to speak about the matter if they wish to.

  • Try to avoid an overall negative tone and implying consequences for others as a result of information gathered from this conversation.

Once again, even upon departure, most employees would most likely not want to leave on a bad note. When asking for feedback, try not to structure the questions in such a way that seems like you are asking for slander from the employee. Focus on keeping the conversation neutral and hearing out the employee’s experience – both negative and positive.

  • Do not try to convince the employee to stay in your company.

At the time of the exit interview, it is pretty clear that your employee’s departure is certain. If you really wanted to keep this employee, a conversation about what can be changed would have been more effective if it took place before the resignation. In your final exchanges, it is best to stay friendly and wish the employee the best of luck in the future!

Update Your Team and Look Towards the Future

Letting go of an exceptional worker can be hurtful to not only your company as a whole, but to the team members that work directly with the individual. Following the exit interview, remember to update your team about what is happening with this employee, and what next steps are going to be taken. With the newly gathered feedback, it is a great opportunity to reevaluate exactly what you look for in a star employee. With the help of pre-employment assessment tests and more closely fitted benchmarks, be confident and optimistic about finding even better fits for your company in the near future!