Effective Exit Interviews

04.05.2016
HR & Safety

Many employers are taking their workers’ parting words to heart, new research from staffing firm OfficeTeam suggests. Sixty-three percent of human resources (HR) managers said their company commonly acts on feedback from exit interviews.
When asked how they follow up on information gleaned from these meetings, 29% of respondents reported they update job descriptions. Another 24% address comments about management, while 22% make changes to the work environment and 19% review employee salaries.
Exit InterviewsHR managers were asked, “How often does your company act on information gathered during exit interviews with departing employees?” Their responses:

  • Very often—28%
  • Somewhat often—35%
  • Not very often—24%
  • Never—13%

HR managers whose companies act on information gathered during exit interviews were also asked, “Which one of the following actions do you most commonly take based on information gathered from exit interviews?” Their responses:*

  • Update job descriptions—29%
  • Discuss feedback regarding management—24%
  • Make changes to work environment/corporate culture—22%
  • Review employee salaries—19%
  • Review employee benefits—5%

*Responses do not total 100% due to rounding.
“The only silver lining to losing employees is obtaining useful feedback to help stem further turnover,” says Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam.
“Departing workers can provide valuable insights that current staff may be reluctant to share. Although not every criticism will be worth responding to, the most crucial issues should be addressed immediately to help keep existing team members happy and loyal.”

Tips for Employers

Here are some do’s and don’ts for employers when conducting exit interviews:

  • Do time it well. Consider scheduling the meeting on one of the worker’s last days. Keep the conversation brief and professional.
  • Don’t make it awkward. Because departing employees may be uncomfortable discussing certain subjects with their immediate supervisor, have an HR representative conduct one-on-one meetings in a private setting.
  • Do cover the right topics. Ask general questions about why the worker is leaving, what the person liked and disliked about the company, and recommendations for improvements.
  • Don’t get defensive. Avoid correcting or confronting the person. Listen carefully and gather as many details as possible.
  • Do be upfront. Explain that any information provided can help to better the organization and will be kept confidential.
  • Don’t brush things off. Give all comments that are shared the proper attention. Also check for patterns in feedback from employees, which can signal persistent problems.

The survey of HR managers was developed by OfficeTeam. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from more than 300 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

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