resource (HR) departments typically conduct exit interview surveys to gather information
from departing employees to help the company improve working conditions, retain
existing employees and identify problem areas within the organisation.
One of the great aspects of exit interviews is that the departing employee
often feels less concerned about the ramifications of 'treading on toes' and hence
is typically willing to provide extremely open and honest feedback about their
reasons for leaving and their thoughts about what the company could do to improve.
while exit interviews clearly have their place and are a vital tactic for any
organisation serious about retaining their staff, there are many pitfalls to avoid.
Some of the key challenges that companies face in conducting exit interviews include:
1. Interviewer bias: The person
charged with asking the questions may not be 100% impartial or may have negative
preconceived notions about the departing employee.
Interpretation: Often, the departing employee says 'X', yet the interviewer
writes down 'Y'. They hear what they want to hear and record what they want to
3. Data entry:
Often the person responsible for interviewing the departing employee is at
Management level, and places a low priority on data entering the results of the
exit interview into a centralised system that authorised Managers can access.
Reporting: As notes are typically hand written, there is not one central place
where all exit interview data is stored. The data also needs to be held on secured
servers (as the information is often sensitive) and results accessible to only
those with appropriate privileges.
Consistency: Without a standard exit interview questionnaire, the questions
asked and information collected can vary wildly.
Confronting: The departing employee can sometimes feel as if it's too confronting
to provide open and honest feedback face-to-face, especially if the interviewer
is personally known to the employee or if the interviewer has a good working relationship
with the departing employee's Manager.
Timing: If the departing employee leaves the organisation suddenly, the task
of conducting the exit interview is often overlooked. However, employees departing
in this manner still have valuable information and feedback to contribute.
what can be done to help minimise these pitfalls?
the centralised Exit Interview process.
many companies are turning towards a centralised online exit interview process.
In simple terms, once an employee leaves the organisation (or in the final weeks
of their tenure) the following steps occur:
HR is notified of the departing employee's name / last day of work.
2. HR e-mail the departing employee a link to a structured online exit
interview survey, and ask that they complete it at a time that suits them over
the next 1-2 weeks maximum. The survey form is pre-coded with the employee's name,
their division, their Manager's name, and their location so that HR can easily
report and filter results by this information.
3. As soon as the
survey has been completed, HR is notified by e-mail, AND, the survey results are
automatically entered into an online database where reports can be run and charts
- HR can phone the departing employee if any matters raised in their feedback
survey require further investigation.
5. (Optional) - HR can
then invite the departing employee's Manager or the 'Next Up' Manager to review
the feedback and add any further comments into a seperate section of the same
survey (this section cannot be viewed by the departing employee).
HR then log online and run date-defined reports to review cumulative exit
interview results, spot trends, and measure the change in ratings over time for
the whole company, or broken down by department or location. Key areas of weakness
are spotted and an action plan to address developed.
we map this online process against the traditional problem areas of decentralised
exit interviews highlighted above, we find it addresses many of the challenges
1. Interviewer bias:
Problem removed - the interview is in the form of an online survey.
Interpretation errors: Problem removed - what the departing employee types
is exactly what HR report on.
Data entry: Problem removed - the online survey stores the exact data and
ratings entered by the departing employee. Management's data entry requirement
access: Problem removed - anyone given authorisation can access the results
from any web browser in the World, at any time, with the data securely held on
14 per cent of employees who told a (internal) company interviewer there was "no
specific reason" for their exit subsequently gave a specific reason to an
independent interviewer, and half of those who changed their response listed
problems with their co-workers or supervisors"
HR Daily Article, Dec 08
Consistency: Problem removed - the exit interview survey issued is the same
for all employees.
6. Confronting: Problem
removed - the departing employee can complete the survey in their own time, at
their own pace, without feeling like they need to sugar coat the tone or nature
of their comments to meet the expectations of the interviewer.
Quick Departures: Problem removed - if an employee departs suddenly, the survey
can still easily be sent and administered remotely in the days or weeks following
a well constructed exit interview process can provide invaluable insight, improve
employee retention levels, and should be a mandatory consideration for any employer
serious about improving employee satisfaction levels.
an Australian-built online exit interview tool:
is an Australian built online feedback and survey tool used extensively by Australian
and New Zealand based organisations to conduct online exit interviews. The tool
can also be used by HR to conduct cost effective staff climate surveys, training
needs analysis surveys, and 'new starter' feedback surveys to name a few popular
complete the form below to arrange your FREE custom-branded exit interview demonstration
and a PeoplePulse pricing and information sheet.
the form below, a PeoplePulse representative will contact
you to discuss your needs and current situation. From there
we will set up your demo and arrange a suitable time to show
the system to you:
Please be assured that your
correspondence with us is confidential. We will not divulge email addresses or
any other details you provide to outside sources.
above demonstration request form was powered by PeoplePulse.
written by Paul Quinn, Director of Quinntessential.