Rather than making assumptions about why your employees are leaving, or worse, simply ignoring the fact, give them the opportunity to tell you explicitly in an exit interview. And while it may not be pretty or enjoyable, exit interviews are an important opportunity to identify areas where you can improve your employee experience and in turn, save on the cost of staff turnover.
Salary is one of the main reasons people accept a job, but contrary to what many employers believe, it’s rarely the reason people leave. Randstad’s research shows that the most common reasons for leaving include a lack of opportunity for career advancement, a lack of interest in the work and poor management. So, what does it take to get your staff to speak candidly about why they are leaving? The answer, a well-prepared and executed exit interview.
Preparing for the interview
The first thing to consider is whether you want the exit interview to be conducted by a person within the business or an external body – it should never be conducted by their direct manager. There are pros and cons for both, but many argue the choice should belong to the person who is leaving. To obtain the most valuable insights, it's essential that the leaver is absolutely comfortable to express their true thoughts.
To encourage employees to be candid in their responses, many businesses have embraced digital formats to deliver their exit interviews, such as an online survey or through Google Forms. As well as allowing the employee to consider their responses in private, it reduces the difficulty of scheduling time to conduct the interview. In some instances, the process is entirely automated, something that is achieved with the help of marketing automation software, which can be programmed to send emails to contacts when they reach specific milestones. This is a highly-valuable communication tool not only for employees, but customers and clients also.
Getting your employees to reveal all
It is important for the interviewer to get to the bottom of the individual’s reasons for leaving, rather than simply accepting a comfortable, surface-level explanation.
Prior to the interview, give the leaver time to prepare. Ensure they have been provided with a reference and let them know their responses will be kept strictly confidential. Explain that all feedback, positive and negative, is valuable and will be acted upon. Describe the process that is in place for their information to make real change. During an exit interview, the leaver may not want to burn bridges and so will only describe the kinder, surface-level reasoning for their decision to leave. You need to make them feel as safe as possible if they are to tell the truth. The interview should not be rushed or interrupted, and detailed notes must be made and kept.
Want to know what questions you should and shouldn’t ask in an exit interview?
At Randstad, we understand the people issues managers and HR professionals face every day, which is why we’ve created The Human Resource Guide, an always-evolving online HR resource that delivers the answers to your day-to-day concerns. It’s like having your own personal HR advisor by your side, 24/7.
Learn more about the best-practice approach to people management with The Randstad Human Resource Guide.