Employee Exit Interview Flaws – Not Getting The Full Story
Employee exit interview flaws are standard protocol in most corporate workplaces. Though the reasoning for them is sound, most organizations’ attempts at employee exit interviews are pretty worthless. Organizations are leaving valuable information on the table about how to improve the workplace and better retain employees — especially high performers.
Don’t Waste the Opportunity to Listen and Learn
When we assess organizational culture, we typically find five employee exit interview flaws — things you’re not likely to learn from your exit interviews — and then five tips on how to fully leverage these processes so you can gain valuable insights from outgoing employees for future exit interviews.
5 Things You’re Not Learning From Your Exit Interviews
Consequently, employees tend to sugarcoat their experience or flat out lie about why they’re leaving. They fear that, even if they bring authentic or negative feedback to the table, leaders will write off their issues as one disgruntled employee’s opinion.
It’s easier and less painful to smile, get through the exit interview, and move on with their new employer.
An employee may have been a poor fit for their role or didn’t mesh with the culture of the organization. Maybe they were competent at their job, but their personality caused rifts in the workplace.
Whatever the reason, the exit interview probably isn’t the place to learn this information. Look for other sources to determine the nature of the turnover.
Take a look at HR records and talk with the departing employee’s manager. Also speak with the employees’ coworkers and ask if they think the loss will hurt the company.
Interviewer, “Is there anything we could have done to get you to stay?”
Exiting Employee, “Oh no, this is just too good an opportunity for me to pass up.”There are certainly times when employees are approached about a new position from an outside source or a great situation arises organically. But for the most part, employees find new jobs because they’re displeased in their current role and are actively searching for a new opportunity.
People are generally resistant to change and will only leave if they’re truly unhappy. It’s important for you to understand the true source of that displeasure so you can address it.
As previously stated, this information is unlikely to come from interviews with exiting employees who just want to get out without any further friction.
If you want to get serious about keeping employees, talk to those who are still around. Try to uncover their pain points and why their peers are seeking new opportunities.
Your goal should be to use information from departing employees as a source for promoting change in your organization. You need analytics, not anecdotes.
5 Ideas to Improve Your Exit Interview Strategy
Having a third party interview the employee removes that barrier and allows the employee to be honest. They’re more likely to open up and be real with someone with whom they don’t have a prior relationship.
If you don’t like that idea, consider waiting 6 months and sending a survey through the mail. Why? Research has shown that waiting six months gives exiting employees enough time and distance to emotionally separate themselves and to be more candid.
Use employee exit surveys to tap into the team members who were around the exiting employee most.
Anonymous external exit surveys can gather feedback from multiple sources — intra-team peers, cross-team peers, managers, direct reports, and other key stakeholders — and provide the added benefit of showing current employees that leadership is committed to understanding and improving the workplace.
Use employee engagement surveys, 1-on-1 engagement meetings, and team gatherings to ensure you’re getting updates on where your employees stand.
Linking your engagement data to your turnover data can help leaders and managers understand the importance of improving employee engagement and the cost of ignoring it. Employee engagement survey results can also be used to predict and prevent turnover.
By identifying the areas of low engagement in your organization, you can double down on employee engagement actions to improve those areas and proactively turn employees around who might be headed out the door.
Try using an exit survey in addition to, or in place of, exit interviews. A survey can provide quantitative data that is more easily aggregated. Including feedback from exiting employees’ peers can give you even more data. Data from five or more people per turnover is far more impactful than just relying on the voice of one.
The Bottom Line
Gathering exit feedback should be an integral part of your talent management strategy to attract, engage, develop, and retain the top talent you need to be successful. Just make sure you have a plan and process to use the data to make things better for your people and your business.
To learn more about how to engage and retain top talent, download 2 Steps for Every CHRO to Retain Top Performers
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