The process of conducting an effective exit interview is one of the most important steps a company takes to ensure a smooth transition for both parties. Unfortunately, many companies make the same mistakes during offboarding. Instead of maintaining ineffective and burdensome exit interview procedures, when HR leaders strive to make the exit interview process a positive experience for employees, employers gain meaningful insights from this exchange. This blog post will explore the five mistakes companies make most often when conducting exit interviews.
MISTAKE #1: Not Informing Employees about the Exit Interview Process
One of the biggest mistakes HR departments make when conducting exit interviews is failing to inform their employees how to complete an exit survey. This can leave an employee feeling like it’s an afterthought and their feedback isn’t valued or taken seriously. This has negative outcomes for the employer and employee. If companies and HR leaders communicate with departing employees throughout the entire process, then they will know what to expect and are more likely to finish it.
Higher exit interview response rates occur when organizations provide clear and detailed instructions about how to complete the process. Companies will often give employees an exit interview form without guidance or direction to provide honest and open feedback. This can lead to incomplete information or a shallow understanding of the employee’s experience working at the organization. Providing employees with clear and detailed instructions, including how the information collected will be used, increases the chance that the exit interview process is completed accurately. Remember to ask…Which way are you most likely to complete an exit interview…online, with a phone call from a 3rd party, or a mobile text invitation?”. Then send it to them that way. They are now more likely to do it.
Most retention experts agree that the cost of losing a single employee can be 20% to 200% of annual salary, especially when accounting for both direct and indirect costs. Understanding why employees quit the organization is key to reducing turnover and controlling costs and only completed exit interviews tell us why employees exit.
MISTAKE #2: Asking Bad Survey Questions
Another mistake companies often make in the exit interview process is asking ineffective survey questions. While it’s important to collect information from employees, it’s even more important to ask relevant and actionable questions that can provide meaningful insight into the employee’s experience working at the company. Gear questions towards understanding how employees view their working environment, both the strengths (for you to use in future recruiting) and what areas need improvement, and how managers/leaders can better serve their staff. Having seen hundreds of exit interviews, there are still biased or leading questions out there that lead to skewed results that often distract the organization from finding ways to improve.
According to this 2020 study, as many as 50% of employees voluntarily separated from the organization but because the right exit survey questions weren’t asked, they couldn’t determine where to focus their analysis. This proves that probing into the reasons behind this decision is essential for the success of any business. If HR fails to ask meaningful and insightful questions, this can lead to a limited picture of the company culture, leaving employers with low-impact options when applying feedback. Without accurate evaluations, managers can make decisions and take action based on unreliable data that could negatively impact the organization. In a worst-case scenario, this may result in higher employee dissatisfaction and poor retention rates. A good exit interview template can be found here, and makes the difference between actionizing insights, or wasting time on guessing to see what works.
MISTAKE #3: Failing to Leverage the Feedback from Exit Interviews
Exit interviews are conducted by about 75% of companies, but even meaningful feedback is not always used. For Human Resource departments that convert the insights into change, they will gain 5% to 10% increase in employee retention to improve their organization. This can include implementing changes that address issues raised by employees or drilling down on high-impact areas like measuring the employee benefits, manager relationships, or career paths. Companies will also be able to identify areas of improvement where they can better serve their staff and create a more positive working environment.
Not leveraging the feedback from exit interviews wastes resources and time that could be reducing turnover. That leads to missed opportunities for growth and improvement, and lost investments in employee engagement and commitment. Companies can ensure they take full advantage of the insights gained from exit interviews by:
- Automating monthly exit interview reports direct to their inbox
- Holding quarterly team meetings to discuss employee feedback
- Creating bi-annual retention action plans for improvement
Fact or Fiction: Star Employees Want Promotions
The key avoidance of this mistake exists in effective exit interview reports. Monitoring exit data informs both during and after an employee’s departure. Powerful reports provide insight into employee experience, demographics, red flags that highlight serious concerns, trends that reflect big changes, and other key performance indicators. In addition to helping employers understand the reasons for employee departure, exit interview reports also provide valuable feedback that can be used to improve workplace culture and policies.
During the exit interview report process, employers can actively listen, take notes, and make changes where appropriate to ensure a more positive employee experience in the future.
MISTAKE #4: Completing the Exit Interview with the Separating Employee
During the exit interview process, many companies rely on managers to lead the process and collect feedback directly from departing employees, which can create a bias and make employees feel unsafe in providing honest feedback. If HR Directors leveraged the opportunity to bring in an exit interview company, they increase the likelihood that the employee’s feedback is candid and true. The buffer provides a sense of psychological safety. Additionally, by foregoing a survey created by an exit interview expert, companies risk not collecting the benchmarkable data to compare employee experiences and prioritize improvements. The lack of accurate feedback can lead to poor decisions going forward and leave employers unable to correct issues that could be causing employees to leave.
Therefore, it is important for companies to utilize exit interview software to conduct staff surveys and questionnaires to receive accurate, honest feedback from departing employees. A third party managing the exit interview process means there is less room for bias and more trust from employees in the system. It also guarantees confidentiality with the employee. This can ultimately help make better decisions for the company and foster better relationships with alumni employees, who you may want to return.
MISTAKE #5: Retaliating Against the Employee
Many employees fear that by sharing their true thoughts in an exit interview, they will be subject to retaliation. This could include an employer refusing to give a positive reference because of what the employee shared, or other harmful actions taken, regardless of the quality of the employee. Unfortunately, some employers take the feedback shared by former employees personally, rather than viewing it objectively and as a means to improve within their organization. To eliminate this possibility, the use of an unbiased and neutral 3rd party is essential, even if employees were told the company will not retaliate against them after their exit.
Using a separate exit interview company to administer the process helps to assure employees that any information collected will remain confidential and will not be used to take retaliatory action against them. If your employees are cautious, this is critical for creating a safe environment where departing staff can speak honestly without fear. By taking this extra step, leaders can obtain valuable employee feedback and use it to create a more pleasant, productive workplace that fosters employee satisfaction and loyalty. Otherwise, companies risk collecting biased feedback and not getting the data they need to improve their company culture. Taking action to ensure employees will not be retaliated against is essential for making exit interviews effective.
The fastest way to accurately reduce turnover is when employers prioritize conducting exit interviews that gain accurate insights into their employees’ experiences. If companies avoid leading questions, leverage the feedback gained from exit interviews, have employees fill it out independently, and avoid retaliating against the employee, then organizations will gain the most valuable insights from their employees. Good exit interviews are the easiest part of any organization’s employee retention efforts. By avoiding these common mistakes, employers will make the most of their exit interview questions. The right exit interview process gains valuable insights to invest HR’s budget in the highest ROI.