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Employee Exit Survey: Templates and Example Questions

Losing employees can sting, especially when they serve critical positions within your organization. You need to find and train their replacements, resulting in lost productivity until the new recruits are up to speed.

However, businesses can learn many lessons whenever they lose talent, such as trends that are responsible for these departures. An exit survey helps you understand what you can improve so other essential workers won’t leave in the future.

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What is an employee exit survey?

When yourecruit new employees, you conduct interviews to determine if they’re a good fit for their positions and your company culture. An exit survey is an interview designed to learn more about why your employee chose to move onto a new opportunity. It’s a learning experience for your business because it allows the employee to be candid and suggest ways that you can improve.

For example, your benefits package may not have been as comprehensive as your employee hoped, and they sought employment from a business that provided more compensation in the form of insurance and retirement plans. It could have been that your employee wasn’t getting along with management or didn’t feel appreciated for the work they put into your business. These are only a couple of possible reasons why your workers might move on, and you can’t determine the true answers to your questions without asking.

What you can learn from exit interviews

There are no bounds to what you can learn from an employee exit survey. The most important benefit of an exit interview is that your employee won’t attempt to hide their feelings out of fear of reprisal. Here are the key advantages to conducting these surveys:

  • You can find out the true reason for departure: You might learn that you had it all wrong when making your own assessment. The employee may shock you by revealing an issue you were completely oblivious to.
  • You’ve got a chance to end things positively: Reputations matter, and offering an opportunity for your employee to provide some criticism shows that you’re not cold and unreasonable. Your employee can leave feeling they were heard.
  • You can review legal obligations: If your employee’s bound by any contracts such as an NDA or intellectual property agreement, you’re able to part on the same page and avoid conflicts down the road.
  • You’re able to review how your management team is performing: As stated before, employees may fear reporting concerns because they’re afraid of being reprimanded for speaking up. Once they’ve chosen to move on, they might open up about any unresolved issues that made them uncomfortable while working for your business.
  • You can learn how effective your onboarding process is: Sometimes, workers leave because they didn’t receive the training and resources they needed to set themselves up for success. You can learn where your organization fell short and apply the lessons toward improving onboarding efforts in the future.
  • You’re able to discover what methods are more effective for employeeretention: The answers to some of your questions aren’t black and white, and you can’t assume that workers all want a certain type of benefits package, recognition program or management style. What you can do is learn whether a pattern exists and make adjustments when you find that your talents are leaving over similar concerns.
  • You can improve management training with the information you receive: If the source of the problems turns out to be your management staff, you’re able to better train those who are in charge. They can be taught more effective leadership strategies and how to motivate employees rather than alienate them.
  • You gain insight at a low cost: It doesn’t cost much to conduct an exit survey, but what you learn from it could be invaluable.

Exit interviews can have varying degrees of success. Finding the right questions to ask and interpreting the data effectively are important. Businesses that struggle with their employee exit strategies often have difficulty because they’re not conducting the interviews in a way that allows the employees to share information that is relevant and assists the business in making tangible improvements.

How to conduct an employee exit survey

You’re not going to learn anything of value unless you ask direct questions. Some exit survey questions might be too general for you to gain any constructive feedback and need follow-up questions for you to understand why an employee feels the way they do. For example, asking an employee how likely they are to recommend your business as a place of work only lets you know that they’re satisfied or unsatisfied. It doesn’t tell you why they would refer others to your business or suggest they stay away.

What you want to avoid is simply handing someone a survey and reviewing the answers later. This deprives you of the opportunity to ask those critical follow-ups so you get to the core issues. Conduct your exit interview in a similar manner to how you interviewed the employee during recruitment, and sit face-to-face.

Here are some examples ofexit survey questions and appropriate follow-ups:

  • How long did you work here?
  • What did you love most about your position?
  • Did you feel safe on the job? If not, what concerns did you have about safety at the workplace?
  • Did you feel that your talent was fully utilized in the position you held? If not, what did you feel you had to contribute that wasn’t noticed?
  • Were you provided with the training, resources and support you needed to perform your duties effectively? If not, what resources did you lack?
  • Were you recognized for your achievements? How often did you feel you received praise or rewards for meeting your objectives?
  • Did you feel like you’re a valuable member of the team? If not, why didn’t you feel that you’re an asset to the company?
  • Did you feel that you understood the company’s strategy and goals? If not, what did you feel uninformed about?
  • Were you properly informed about business policies and procedures? If not, what information did you lack?
  • How would you rate the job training you received? In what ways could it have been improved?
  • Did you feel you were treated fairly by your supervisors? What issues do you feel were unresolved?
  • How well did you and management communicate with each other? In what ways could management have communicated more effectively?
  • Were there any specific issues that influenced your decision to leave? If so, what was your desired resolution?
  • Were you satisfied with your pay for the duties you performed? If not, what was your desired pay rate?
  • Did you feel that you enjoyed a good balance betweenyour job and personal life while working for our company?
  • Did you feel that you had access to the benefits you desired? If not, what benefits were most important to you?
  • Would you like to convey anything to management at this time?
  • How satisfied were you overall during your time with the company?
  • Would you recommend working here to a friend or colleague?
  • Is there anything we could do to keep you with us? If so, what would make you want to stay?
  • Are there any other concerns, comments or suggestions you’d like to provide at this time?

How to interpret the data from exit interviews

Feedback isn’t very useful unless you analyze it properly. What you should be most concerned about are trends and common complaints. It’s impossible to please everyone, and some people simply aren’t good matches for your organization. If you’re noticing a revolving door of exiting employees, however, you need to know why it’s become so difficult to keep your talent on board. Hiring new employees is never as cost-effective as doing what you can to prevent your talent from leaving for greener pastures.

Here are some of the patterns you might find when reviewing the answers provided on exit surveys:

  • The employees didn’t understand thefullscopeof their positionsdue to poor communication or training.
  • There were concerns over job and personal life balance. If your employees find it difficult to meet the demands you place on them while also taking care of their families and having enough time to fill their personal needs, you might be expecting too much out of each position.
  • There were conflicts with management that you weren’t aware of and now need to address. If one of your supervisors becomes the common denominator, you need to decide whether to provide management training or replace your supervisor.
  • Employees didn’t feel they were rewarded or recognized. A “thank you” can go a long way toward making someone feel fulfilled at work and like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Having an effective employee recognition system can retain employeeswithout the need for added compensation.
  • There was a lack of advancement opportunity. Some employees want to move up in their careers and may leave when they feel they’re unable to grow any longer within your organization.
  • You weren’t offering a popular benefit. Some people consider the benefits you provide as additional compensation and might leave if they’re not happy with their insurance, retirement benefits and other voluntary programs. They may even accept less pay from another business if they’re offered benefits that account for the difference in pay.
  • Employees didn’t have the resources needed to be effective. For some people, it has more to do with feeling they can perform their duties effectively without needing to spend time waiting on others or asking for assistance.
  • You’re not offering competitive pay. If you notice that employees cite their pay as one of the main reasons for leaving, do some research to make sure that your pay structure is competitive.

When should you hold an exit interview?

Timing an employee exit survey properly can increase the effectiveness of this strategy. While many businesses sit down with employees during their last week or day, emotions can be high, and the answers you receive might be based purely on emotions. However, waiting too long to conduct the interview can result in the employee no longer remembering key information, and you may lose your ability to entice them to stay.

The best time to conduct an interview might be two or three weeks after the employee’s last day. It’s important that the interviewer is trained in active listening techniques so the interview doesn’t seem biased and the employee feels they can be truthful while being heard. This timing also gives some possibility that the employee hasn’t moved on already, in case you want to make an attempt to resolve unsolved issues and keep them on board.

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