The Ultimate Guide to Employee Exit Interviews: A Template for New Exit Interview Programs

Employee Exit Interview Strategies: Why conduct exit interviews, what are exit survey tools, how to make good exit interview questions. Reduce Turnover in 30 days with exit interviews.

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For employees, exit interviews are perhaps the last interaction that they have with their employer. So, if the exit interview will have a long-lasting impact at your organisation, will it be positive? Will the exit interview questions provide insight to what to do now to retain employees and how to improve the remaining staff's experience?

Approximately three-quarters of all US organisations conduct exit interviews. However, 91% of Fortune 500 companies conduct exit interviews. Instead of taking exit interviews as a formality and being a “check the box” initiative, leading organisations examine how employee exit interviews improve organisational culture, pinpoint “red flags", and reduce turnover.

The State of Modern Exit Interviews

When most employees leave the company, organisations conduct exit interviews to find out why that employee chose to leave. Maybe they got an exciting job offer that was just too good to pass up, maybe they have outgrown their current role. If people are leaving the organisation, figuring out why is essential. The most useful tool for doing so is the one that more leaders than ever now pay attention to: employee exit interviews.

While many companies don’t conduct exit interviews, most employers now collect exit interviews data but don’t analyse the responses. Some analyse it but don’t share it with the senior leaders and front-line managers who can act on it. Exit interviews tend to get filed away because companies struggle to quantify the information gathered from the interviews into change. With the escalating cost of employee turnover, and limited labour market to replace staff that quit, many companies are now more passionate about conducting exit interviews.

The challenges this guide addresses are overcoming the belief that “we already know why” people leave, that “people won’t give honest answers”, or "we don’t have the time” and resources. And also, if they are not sure what to ask or don’t see the reason why it is necessary if people are gone anyway. If an exit interview is done well, it can accelerate meaningful change, reveal what doesn’t work inside the organisation, pinpoint key challenges and generate actionable opportunities for improvement.

Build the Perfect Exit Interview, Build a Better Workplace

Done right, an employee exit interview strategy can offer a wealth of information on the company’s needs. It gives employees a window into how programs inside the organisation are working. Hearing from employees who can share honest feedback can help businesses understand what policies need to change or what procedures if updated would attract and retain staff.

Exit processes (when done by independent third-parties) offer a candid look at workplace culture, day-to-day processes, management style, and employee morale. The purpose of an exit interview is to get a picture of the overall employee experience within an organisation and identify opportunities to improve 6 key areas: connectedness, appreciation, productivity, loyalty, engagement, and trust.

Why More Companies that Ever now do Exit Interviews

Exit interviews help organisations get data. The data at employee separation is a constant blind spot…UNTIL THEY SEPARATE.

It is only at separation that an exit interview works, one reason why they are critical to predict staff turnover. The right talent data (from the right questions) produces reliable insights to create a more positive work environment. Departing employees are generally more forthcoming than those still in their jobs (when they think it’s safe to speak). It provides an opportunity to ask if there are any open issues which the organisation needs to change. It’s all about what to change, how to change, when to change, and where to change.

An exit interview provides a truthful evaluation of the work environment and organisational culture. Responses from exit interview reports are most often rolled into change initiatives on:

1. Recruiting/talent acquisition
2. Onboarding/orientation
3. Staff development manager
4. Training courses
5. Work-life balance
6. Compensation (Base pay and/or bonus)

Employees’ feedback shows organisations where to identify areas that can help improve retention. Analysing feedback data and using those insights to make a difference will help to improve employee morale and give them assurance that the organisation takes action. For quickest wins, target improvements that have a positive impact on the top 5 reasons for leaving.

What Makes a Good Exit Interview Strategy?

The most common 3 reasons exit interview programs fail:

1. Too hard to sustain/continue
2. Low completion rates
3. Did not produce useful/actionable information

The effectiveness of exit processes is measured by the positive change it generates. It takes more than a single exit interview questionnaire to understand the state of a workforce. A reliable exit interview form helps employers focus attention to the areas they can influence, instead of noise or areas outside of their control. Creating and implementing more effective interviews may seem challenging and time-consuming, so there are exit interview software companies that help.

With an exit survey tool, the insights an organisation will gain from understanding the connection between employee feedback, behaviour, and trends will prioritise organisational recommendations faster. The best exit information comes from soon-to-depart employees who feel comfortable expressing how they feel, and trust those they are speaking with to listen confidentially. When you can, invite separating employees to conduct an exit interview before they leave. Completion rates are 20-30% higher the week before an employee separates rather than after.

The best exit interview templates are actionable because they cover 5 key areas:

1. Reasons they like working there
2. Reasons they are leaving
3. Suggestions for future changes (Recommendations to improve)
4. Manager relationship (Degree of fairness, respect, appreciation, clear direction)
5. Unresolved issues (Did they go to HR already? What concerns remain?)

To get the most honest feedback, give employees a safe space to express their true opinions. It provides closure and increases the chance to depart on good terms. When several employees provide similar responses, it is time to take action. Implementing the change is where a company reaps the benefit of exit interviews. It shows your existing employees that the company values their opinions and works to provide solutions.

Exit interviews provide suggestions and propel change, and that gives the organisation the fuel for continuous improvement. Outsourcing exit interviews increases honesty. A good third party can get employees to open up and get the most out of the exit interview program. There are also exit interview software solutions that automate the whole process – from exit interview templates to exit survey deployment to turnkey reports. They streamline and simplify HR effort to ensure it’s easy and consistent. Some of those exit interview vendors also provide turnover analysis and survey interpretation to highlight the most actionable information. Up and running within weeks, HR leaders need to focus only on meaningful change. The data-driven insights are surfaced to create a retention strategy that fits the company culture.

Author Bio

Devoreaux LaVoie is an exit interview expert with ExitPro and extensive experience in talent acquisition, development, and employee retention. Specializing in training services, survey design, and global exit interview solutions. Devoreaux customizes an exit interview program to capture the primary drivers of turnover and mitigate the social & cultural impacts of employee resignations. She leverages exit interview reports to accelerate meaningful change across millions of employees.

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