This blog is part of our Employer Resource Guide series.
In today’s competitive market, it’s easy to focus solely on talent attraction and forget another equally-important part of your HR strategy: retention. “Between job hopping and the gig economy, it’s increasingly difficult to hold on to those superstar employees that you spent so much time and money attracting in the first place,” says Workopolis.
When an employee decides to leave, we immediately turn our full attention to finding someone to replace them, and often ignore the valuable insight to be gained from the departing worker. Why did they decide to leave? Multiple factors are often at play, so don’t assume you know the true reasons. This is where the exit interview can help.
An exit interview is a meeting with a departing employee with the goal of gathering honest feedback about their experience with the company. Information collected from exit interviews can help organizations uncover issues affecting employee retention, and help them build a more engaging and fulfilling workplace.
Mary Hulti, Human Resources Consultant with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), has been coordinating the organization’s exit interview program for years. “Every exit interview reveals something useful, large or small,” she shares. “The program serves as a continuous feedback loop that allows us to make improvements for the benefit of our whole team.” For example, since identifying a trend of exit interview feedback related to advancement opportunities, Mary is working to make all the organization’s job descriptions available to existing employees, allowing them to better map out their desired career path and identify the skills and experiences needed for their next move within the organization.
While Mary has found her exit interview program to be invaluable, she also advises not to wait for employees to leave before soliciting feedback or fixing problems. This is where stay interviews come in. A key element of any performance management or employee development program, stay interviews are conducted with existing employees to identify the reasons they stay with your company, as well as any looming triggers that could cause them to leave.
Clements Centre Society uses a combination of exit questionnaires and employee satisfaction surveys to gather information from their team. Dianne Hinton, CEO, gives a key piece of advice for any employee engagement: make it a genuine check in, not an onerous obligation. “If you approach the process from a positive, sincere perspective, then your staff will do the same and you’re more likely to come away with constructive feedback you can use to make improvements,” says Dianne. Clements Centre Society’s Joint Labour Management Committee compiles data from their various employee, stakeholder and client engagement tools to help them optimize their operations and program offerings.
If you’re ready to implement an exit or stay interview program at your business, a Google search will reveal no shortage of templates and sample questions to get you started. But designing the questions and collecting the data are only part of the process. The key to success of both stay and exit interviews is to be receptive to the information you learn, and to commit to making changes based on that information.
Employees quit their jobs for a number of reasons. It’s important to conduct exit interviews with employees who are leaving to investigate trends in attrition and implement changes to address any issues. Better yet, implement a stay interview program to help identify potential problems before they lead to turnover. The time and money you will save on unnecessary recruitment will more than outweigh the effort required to implement these strategies.