Exit interviews are an extremely beneficial process, but many organizations don’t take the time to do them. Or, if they do them, they don’t take the time to analyze the data and really evaluate the trends identified through exit interviews.
When an employee leaves by choice, you should make every effort possible to do an exit interview. If you’re terminating an employee, an exit interview is much less likely. Exit interviews are really intended for employees who choose to leave and for layoff situations. After a layoff, an employee may not be willing to participate in an exit interview, but it can be helpful to gather some information even if it’s a form sent by email.
Set aside 30 minutes of time before the employee leaves for an exit interview. Typically, someone in HR or someone other than the person’s direct supervisor should conduct the exit interview. You can gather some helpful insights by addressing some key components and asking the employee, “How could we have made this specific area better for you?”
Each area of the exit interview will have some data that goes with it. Ultimately, you’re looking for trends. Be sure to talk about these three key areas during your exit interviews.
Compensation and benefits
Compensation and benefits is a pretty common reason that people leave a company. They may leave for a similar position at another company for higher pay, or they may leave to take a promotion with better pay or a more comprehensive benefits package.
Keep in mind that you’re not looking for details on how to adjust compensation and benefits for that one individual, but rather looking for trends overall. If a large percentage of your employees are leaving for compensation and benefits, you’re likely also spending a lot of money to recruit and hire new employees. Could you increase pay or benefits if you weren’t constantly spending money to replace people?
Exit interview questions about compensation and benefits can also help you stay competitive in the industry. If multiple employees are leaving for better pay in the same industry, you’re basically training employees to do the job for someone else. Your competition is getting a trained employee on your dime, and that’s not good.
Culture and work-life balance
Culture is another key reason people leave, whether it’s a toxic work environment, lack of work-life balance that leads to burnout, or many other reasons. Work-life balance is a common reason in the nonprofit space in particular. Yes, many people in nonprofit would like to make more money, but they likely knew when they entered that industry that the pay could (not should, shout out to all my friends in nonprofit) be less. It’s possible they knew the work could be exhausting and challenging, but it stills wears on them over time if not given adequate time away from work.
If this is the trend in your company, regardless of industry, it’s time to take a hard look at your company culture or at your PTO policy. Offering employees more PTO and creating a culture where they can truly use that time to recharge can go a long way toward employee retention. Yes, offering more PTO costs money, but so does constantly replacing employees who leave because they’re burnt out.
Culture issues that continually come up in exit interviews should be addressed as well. That could mean poor management skills, lack of leadership, toxic employees, or anything else tied to company culture.
Safety, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination
Every employee has the right to a safe workplace that’s free of retaliation, harassment, and discrimination. This responsibility is an organizational effort, but more specifically it falls on the employee’s direct supervisor. Employees will leave their supervisor before they leave the company. If their supervisor is not providing these essentials (or worse they are the root problem), then you can bet on more to follow suit.
This part of the exit interview should be a series of progressive questions. Did you feel safe when you worked here? Did you ever experience or witness retaliation? There should be plenty of opportunity for employees to talk in this section of the exit interview, as some issues may not come up immediately.
When issues come up in this section of the exit interview, it’s important to deal with them quickly. In some cases, it’s an opportunity to bring awareness to a situation and help prevent it from happening again. In others, it’s a critical matter of safety for employees.
The most important step in the exit interview process is to analyze the data. A lot of companies don’t do exit interviews at all, and many who do just check the box and don’t ever take the time to really analyze their data. The analysis step is pretty simple overall, and it can help reduce the turnover rate in your company if you’re committed to taking action based on that data.
If you need help starting an exit interview process and evaluating the data, contact Why HR today to discuss how we can help.