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Conducting Effective Exit Interviews: Tips And Questions To Ask

Conducting Effective Exit Interviews: Tips And Questions To Ask

As a business owner, employee turnover is a common occurrence. Employees move on for a variety of reasons, some personal, such as moving out of state, and others professional, such as a career change or a new opportunity. When current employees leave your organization, though it may be stressful news at first, you have an excellent opportunity to gain insight into your company and culture. Exit interviews and exit surveys can help you understand areas for improvement.

Even if you have the best relationship with your team, as leadership, there are likely elements within your processes, policies, or culture that your employees dislike but have yet to voice their concerns about. Exit interviews are your window-in. When done correctly, they’ll give you honest and in-depth responses that can help address aspects affecting employee satisfaction and retention.

Because you can’t always predict when team members will leave your company, it's vital to have an exit interview or survey established and integrated into your offboarding process. This ensures you aren’t caught off guard and have the tools ready to capture invaluable information.

What Is An Exit Interview?

Like a job interview, an exit interview or exit survey is a series of questions you ask departing employees. These questions should include their reasons for leaving and their perceptions of company culture and leadership. In addition, inquire about salary and benefit expectations to understand what it takes to retain or attract top talent.

Generally, exit interviews and surveys should take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how many questions you include. An HR representative or a member of senior leadership should be present during interviews to hear answers first-hand. Take thorough notes during interviews, so your team can evaluate the answers afterward.

In addition, store all the information collected in exit interviews and surveys in a clearly defined and easy-to-access place. Keep the stored information confidential and remove anything that would identify a former employee. This ensures you can refer to past interviews and identify patterns over time.

Questions To Ask

While general questions are helpful, it's essential to carefully assess your business and the specific insights that would be the most beneficial. For example, if you aren’t aware of how your staff feels about leadership or benefits, tailor most of your questions around those areas.

We’ve gathered a list of questions to help you get started:

Why did you start looking for alternative employment?
Starting with an open-ended question allows you to get directly to the root of why an employee is choosing to leave. Their answer can help direct your other questions. For example, if their answer is because of a lack of professional development, you can delve into more questions about what development opportunities would be beneficial in the future.

Did you have a positive relationship with your manager/supervisor?
Managers play a huge role in job satisfaction. In fact, 69% of people say their managers had the most significant impact on their mental health, which greatly impacts day-to-day productivity and satisfaction. As a leader, you’re likely only hearing from your managers and supervisors; this question allows employees to share any minor and major issues they may not have felt comfortable sharing while still employed.

What was your relationship with your team like?
Just like managers, team members play a vital role in day-to-day job satisfaction. Unhealthy or cruel team dynamics can take a significant toll on individuals. Understanding team dynamics can help you create a better work culture.

Was your role and responsibilities clear from the start?
As the needs of your company evolve, roles often transform. Asking this question can assist you in identifying areas where increased transparency and clarity with your team might be beneficial.

Did your responsibilities change since you started? If yes, did you perceive these changes as positive or negative?
Depending on the employee’s tenure with your company, their role may change significantly. This question will provide insight into whether there are ways you can improve the experience of others at your company on similar paths. Do you need to reevaluate job titles or compensation packages when roles develop? Does your team need more say in these changes, etc.?

What advice would you give management or your team?
This question can lead to surprising answers and give you ideas on how to improve the experience of everyone in your company. Although there may be ideas that aren’t realistic to implement, other suggestions can prove invaluable.

Other questions you can ask include:

  • What was your favorite and least favorite aspect of your job?
  • Would you recommend this company to a friend?
  • Did you feel valued and appreciated during your time here?
  • If you ever flagged an issue to leadership, were you satisfied with the outcome?
  • What are you looking forward to in your new role?
  • Is there anything we didn’t cover you would like to add?

Next Steps

The work doesn’t end after you’ve gathered your departing employee's responses. Have your leadership carefully review each answer. Flag areas that need to be addressed and make a clear plan for implementing changes. Ensure you communicate any developments with your remaining team members and allow them to share ideas or pain points.

Remember that an exit interview shouldn’t be the only time you gather your team's input. Regularly check in during one-on-ones, team meetings, or even performance reviews. Regular feedback sessions allow you to get ahead of any issues and address concerns before an employee departs.

While it is too late to address the concerns of former employees, the changes you implement can have lasting impacts on your business, improving job satisfaction, retention, and recruitment efforts.

Human Resources Information System

Partnering with a professional employer organization (PEO) like GMS gives you access to powerful tools such as GMS Connect. GMS Connect is a fully integrated, cloud-based human resources information system (HRIS) that enables your services and drives your efficiencies from anywhere and on any device with internet access. Our software allows world-class payroll, benefits, HR, recruiting, performance management, and more - covering the entire HR spectrum from hire to retire.

If you're looking for a secure place to store information, such as exit interviews or survey data, GMS can help. Contact us today and let us help you manage your employee data.

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