Exit interviews, when conducted properly can be the secret to improving not only staff retention but the motivation, and engagement of existing staff while helping to attract new members to the team. But how can they do all that? By finding out the reasons behind staff resignations, you can take action to address these issues. However, as we’ve covered in previous articles, who conducts the interviews and when has a large impact on their effectiveness. Structure also plays an important role, how they are conducted could mean the difference between receiving results you can act upon and ones you can’t.
So why is the structure of your exit interviews important…
- Consistency – if there is no consistent approach to exit interviews, the questions asked and areas covered then there will be no consistency in the results you receive. There needs to be a certain amount of structure as to the basics such as when they’re conducted and by who but also what is covered in the interview itself. If one department conducts interviews themselves and take the form of a general chat the results will be no more than anecdotal, if another asks HR or an independent party to conduct theirs and they follow a predefined set of questions then theirs will give more insightful results. A formal structure gives consistency, just as in general recruitment interviews across an organisation are similar and follow a certain pattern and structure. The exit interviews should do the same.
- Flexibility – structure doesn’t just mean asking the same questions in the same order, it also means having flexibility. Obviously, as we covered in the point above there does need to be a consistent approach to the questions asked. However, exit interviews shouldn’t be scripted with the interviewing simply reading out each question in turn. There needs to be the freedom to delve deeper into certain topics, the interviewer needs the skill to be able to identify clues in answers that show that this is an area that needs further investigation.
- Actionable results – in order to get meaningful data from exit interviews, then the interviews need to be structured in a way that enables this. For example, over our nearly 30 years of working within the HR arena we’ve noticed that the reasons why people leave, can be grouped into 8 key areas. We structure our exit interviews so that questions and therefore the analysis of the results are focussed on these areas. This gives meaningful data that highlights the actions that can be taken in the short, medium and long term to improve employee retention.
We’ve been working with a number of clients looking to improve and/or outsource their exit interview process. We are happy to share what we’ve learned and offer some ideas. Just drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0207 224 3307.