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Exit Interviews Could Be One of Your Most Powerful Recruiting Tools

Posted by Mark LaRosa

If your company’s HR department is like most others, you rely on exit interviews to provide feedback on company culture and management. From learning how departing employees feel about their workloads to finding out which company perks team members really love (hint: it’s not always the free snacks), exit interviews are a great way to learn more about what’s working for your organization—and what can be improved. But while listening and learning is important, if you’re not quantifying that feedback you could be missing out on valuable opportunities to improve the way your company operates. 

Here’s why it matters: In addition to improving overall employee experience, having a clear sense of where you may be coming up short can help you reduce turnover and improve your employer brand. 

So what’s the best way to quantify feedback? Beyond asking departing employees about their day-to-day experience—and biggest challenges—adding a survey to your exit interview can give you key insights into what’s working well, and how things can be improved. Once you’ve gathered these insights, you can implement them as part of your employee engagement strategy and also use them to shape your recruiting process. 

Ready to put this exit interview strategy to the test? Here’s how to implement it at your company.

Ask the right questions, and put your employees at ease about answering them

If you’ve ever been on the other side of an exit interview, then you know it’s not always easy to answer questions as honestly as you might like. Which is why creating a comfortable environment for your employees is key when it comes to making the conversation productive. Let them know at the start of the interview that you value their opinion and that you’re always looking to improve the experience of both current and future employees. Another great tip: Ask questions such as “How do you feel things went here?” and “What could we have done to stop you from leaving?” that will allow employees to open up and share specific challenges they may have faced. After your conversation, provide them with a survey that asks them to rank elements of their employee experience and provide additional feedback as needed. To be quantifiable, the questions should have a rating system (think 1-5) and cover a wide range of topics from workload to management to benefits. 

Analyze exit interview data in a strategic way

Designing a good survey is a great first step, but in order to glean relevant insights, you need to be strategic in how you approach the data. Creating reports based on the surveys is an effective way to do this since it can help to show some of the common themes that arise across the organization.

If you already have a people analytics strategy in place, you can make this a part of that overall plan. If not, a simple spreadsheet tallying results can be a great start and offer you the data points you need. Above all, it’s important to look for patterns within the data and try to hone in on what those patterns can tell you about areas of improvement. For example, if the majority of departing employees rank benefits as a 2 out of 5, it may be time to rethink your benefits package and see what else you can offer your team.

Use data to improve your employer brand and recruiting strategy

While designing effective surveys and compiling exit interview data can be time-consuming, it can pay off dividends when it comes to your company’s growth and performance. By learning what you can do to improve employee experience, you can take small steps to address some of the key issues employees bring to your attention. In addition to reducing turnover and making your team happier and more productive, this can also mean a big boost for your recruiting process. That’s because companies with happy employees tend to have a much easier time recruiting top talent, often spending 10% less in the process and reducing the amount of outreach they have to do. What’s more, since employee referrals are the number one source of new hires, having a team that’s engaged and passionate about your company can mean an increase in referrals and a lot less time spent on candidate sourcing. 

While exit interviews can sometimes shine the mirror on some hard truths, looking at them as learning experiences can be one of the best things you ever do for your team. By using those insights to improve your company’s operations, you can improve overall employee satisfaction and make it much easier to find and retain top talent. 

Want to improve your recruiting strategy? Learn the candidate experience metrics you should be tracking and strategies to beat out the competition with killer employer brand positioning. Then, download our white paper about optimizing candidate communication.

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