Using exit interviews to reduce turnover and costs

December 2012

Exit interview and turnover Keeping talented employees is a critical to your organisation's success. Employers need to look at retaining younger staff as baby boomers retire. It's also important to look at ways of keeping older staff and harnessing their invaluable knowledge and experience.

There are significant costs associated with turnover. If your organisation can identify the reasons behind turnover and reduce them, there will be an undeniable cost benefit. You'll also have a powerful argument for how the money saved can be better spent on strategies aimed at retaining and developing key talent.

How well do you understand your organisation's turnover?

Answer the following six questions:

  1. Do you have a database of the reasons employees leave?
  2. Do you know why your employees leave?
  3. How do the reasons people leave your organisation benchmark against other organisations?
  4. Is employee turnover correlated with length of service, age, position, department, etc?
  5. Do any departments within your organisation have particular challenges retaining employees?
  6. Does your induction process actually achieve its objectives?

Exit interviews hold the key

Answering these questions will help you better understand the reasons for turnover and will be the basis for building meaningful retention strategies.

When it comes to exit interviews and exit surveys, employees are likely to be more candid with an independent third party. Many empmloyees will also form the view that their opinion will help the organisation improve and also benefit colleagues who are staying on.

Some limitations of running exit interviews internally include:

  • If automated systems aren't in place, HR departments generally don't have enough internal resources to conduct exit interviews.
  • The benefit is further reduced when the findings can't be externally benchmarked. This is the case with most internal surveys.
  • In environments where trust is low, employees may not provide honest feedback.

The road to reducing turnover

To plan the way forward and retain your best staff, organisations need to first get serious about reducing turnover. Start conducting employee entry surveys and exit interviews to determine employees' goals when they start and find out why people are leaving.

Once data has been collected, you can begin to understand the key reasons behind employees' reason(s) for leaving and begin to address any problems. Over time these changes will help retain staff, reduce costs and therefore increase profitability.

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