Traditionally exit interviews focused on determining why people were leaving an organisation. Nowadays with employment branding playing an increasing role in attracting, recruiting and retaining the right people the objectives behind the exit interview have increased and the method of capture has changed. Online exit surveys are now an essential feedback tool being used by HR to capture sensitive information that can come out of exit interviews.
In addition to the more established reason for conducting an exit interview (ie to establish why people are leaving an organisation) the business case for conducting an exit interview has expanded to include the following:
a) Understand where the organisation is doing well
Departing staff are often your best source of information about what the organisation is doing well. When captured this information forms the basis for more effective recruitment practices as you can then align your messages in your job adverts with the reality of the workplace you offer. For example, if your Organisation offers extensive training during the induction process and outgoing employees attest to this training being valuable then this is powerful messaging that you should up-play during the recruitment process and in your advertising.
b) Flag the areas where the organisation can improve
While ex-employees may feel comfortable discussing the areas where the organisation is strong it is often a different matter when the reasons behind the exit are sensitive. Employees may not want to share this information in a face to face exit interview instead they may feel more willing to provide detail in an anonymous survey. The benefit behind capturing information like this is that you can use this feedback to improve your retention rates. For example, if your Organisation espouses that there is a strong culture that offers work / life balance but work practices in the organisation mean that employees are regularly required to work 15 hour days then this inconsistency should be flagged and addressed. How do you address it? You either stop saying that the Organisation offers work/life balance or you change your work practices to deliver on this promise.
c) Highlight the experience, skills and attributes required for key roles
People can sometimes leave an Organisation because they werenít able to do the role they were hired for. As demoralising as this is for the departing person it is critical for HR to understand when this occurs so that the same mistake is not repeated. By asking questions about the experience, skills and attributes that the outgoing employee feels are required for the role the HR person can either change the job specifications or modify the role.
d) Capture the knowledge that typically walks out the door with each departing person
There is so much knowledge that exists within an organisation that leaves with each person who exits the building. HR should work with each Line Manager to understand what parts of this information need to be captured. This becomes particularly important for organisations that donít document processes and rely instead on the knowledge built up over time by the incumbents.
e) Provide a forum for the departing person to have their say (which can sometimes ease residual tension and in extreme cases may avoid legal action)
If the departing employee has felt dissatisfaction, and letís face it, many employees who are leaving would fall into this camp, then an anonymous online exit survey can provide employees with the forum to express their feelings. Very often providing this type of forum and then following up on problems can reduce the number of complaints that are formalised. And additionally it can alert you to larger problems that ought to be addressed just from a best-practice stand point.
In summary, there are many reasons why you should consider conducting an exit interview beyond simply a need to understand why people are leaving.
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