The benefits of exit interviews for the workplace are well understood by UK HR directors, according to a survey of 200 HR directors across small, medium, and large organisations, from OfficeTeam UK, a division of Robert Half. The vast majority (95%) of HR directors said they believe that exit interviews are either ‘sometimes’ or ‘very’ beneficial in helping to improve the working environment for employees. With voluntary turnover on the rise, the information gathered from exit interviews is invaluable in creating retention programmes to keep employees engaged and motivated.
Despite those perceived benefits, less than a third (31%) of HR directors said that they ‘always’ conduct exit interviews with staff. A further 46% ‘sometimes’ undertake exit interviews, depending on seniority, while 17% undertake them depending on HR resources available. The minority (7%) say that they never conduct exit interviews.
Small (34%) and medium (33%) companies are much more likely to undertake regular exit interviews than large organisations (22%). Larger companies report that they tend to conduct exit interviews sporadically according to seniority (57%), far more than medium-sized organisations (31%) or small companies (45%).
Phil Sheridan, UK Managing Director of OfficeTeam, said: “All of the evidence shows that HR directors recognise the value of seeking insight from those leaving the business. Yet there are variances in the approaches taken by size and type of company, with smaller companies more likely to have the resources available to undertake exit interviews for all staff, not just senior executives.
“With increased job market confidence and employees looking for new opportunities, having a standardised exit interview strategy will ensure companies glean the right information to help them instill a positive work environment and employee programmes that will both retain and attract top talent.”
OfficeTeam outlines five top tips for conducting successful exit interviews:
- Get the timing right: issues may be raised that could lead to a grievance after the employee has left, so it’s important to capture information early on to give you plenty of time to investigate
- Make sure that they happen: the temptation when employees are busy in their last few days is to let exit interviews slide, but it’s important to follow through and gain insights that may benefit the organisation. Conducting face-to-face meetings is preferable as it is often the non-verbal cues that are most insightful
- Ensure an environment of trust: by encouraging constructive feedback the exit interview should capture positive as well as negative responses. Seek permission to share any information shared in confidence
- Listen, don’t talk: your intension is to obtain the facts as the employee sees it, not defend the company’s practices. Encouraging conversation instead of countering points will help extract valuable information
- Follow up on the interview: make sure information is captured using a standard process and that any insights are acted upon and communicated to the right people