When staff move in to pastures new, either you have done your job and up-skilled and trained them so well they are ready for a new challenge outside of your company, or you have been less successful and they feel as if they need a new challenge as you are not offering it.
The former is a far stronger position to be in, but the value that you can obtain from exit interviews is really strong for whichever reason your employee is departing.
The good news? You can use the information from your exit interviews to better your company, and boost employee engagement for your current workforce by learning from your potential mistakes, or looking for opportunities that can be fixed.
Tackling the exit interview
So how do you start? Well, firstly you have to be doing exit interviews and doing them in a way that means you can capture good data. My suggestion is that you up-skill people within your HR team to be able to speak with departing employees and ask them relevant questions to gather the best data possible.
While there should be some form of freedom within the questions, they should follow the set patterns you wish for them to follow. The basic questions your exit interviews should always include are:
Why is that employee leaving?
Do they have any areas of concern involving your current company?
Try to find out what their new employer is offering that you aren’t - is it more pay, more learning and development, a better culture?
In short, your exit interview should answer the question: Why them and not you?
How to use your employee feedback
You also importantly need to record this information centrally so you can see what everyone is saying, over time and in certain locations.
You have to look at the data and feedback you've collected and know you are looking at like for like responses to the questions. Ask yourself:
Are there patterns?
Is the information correlating?
Are there issues with one particular department or manager that your exit interviews seem to point to?
In order to get these answers, you need to have appropriate consistency in recording the data to achieve that.
My suggestion is that you record the answers on a Google form or other method of collection that shows when the interview took place and enables you to see all the info about the person too.
The last point is getting the terms of the exit interview right with the employee. The best is for them to share openly and agree to share that with the business. At times though some discretion may be needed, and this will need to be shown to find out those hidden aspects which need to be addressed.
This is the knottiest challenge that we face for exit interviews: Can we use what we are told?
By being honest and upfront with the employee about what you are going to do then you will be able to manage that aspect really well.
Once you have the data you can then share that with managers of the departing employee if relevant (as at times the exit interview will not yield anything of value at all - they are happy leavers), so when you find something out, you need to treat it like the information gold it is.
Importantly you also need to make sure you have the right mechanism for sharing that across the business - this means working out how often you share the whole data, and the key findings and also the key action areas. Do you do this monthly, quarterly or when needed? Only you will know the right circumstances for your business.
My advice would be to keep a watching brief on this and try to make sure you are communicating often with your key managers and leadership team on what is being said.
But, and this is an important but, you need to qualify and have action points ready for when you share the information. So what kinds of information will you get and what can you do with it?
Don’t avoid these data points!
First up salary info. Are your leavers all saying you are not paying enough and they are all going for big rises? Can you match this with your ability to attract good candidates? What do your engagement surveys say in this space? Is this isolated to locations, teams or skillsets?
Are your benefits lacking? Is your mix of benefits failing to attract and engage your employees?
Are you not offering enough career development or training opportunities to grow within the company?
Whatever data you receive from your exit interview, you need to make sure you assess the data, draw your conclusions and then outline how you can fix this issues.
Tell me, how do you structure your exit interviews?