It doesn’t matter how many positions you fill and how quickly you can fill them. What keeps you off the hiring merry-go-round is making those elusive great hires and retaining them. But what if the people you lose could help you make better choices next time?
That’s the idea behind exit interviews, even though Harvard Business Review says too few companies take advantage of them. Your current employees have valuable opinions, direction and information that help you hire great people.
However, those who part ways, whether it’s your choice or theirs, can help you spot patterns of which you weren’t aware. Theirs is a clearer picture of what went wrong from the perspective of an employee. Here’s how to make your exit interviews count.
#1: Learn About HR Issues
There’s more to human resources conflicts than compensation and the employee benefits package. Harvard Business Review says most companies that use exit interviews focus tightly on HR. But they might also be missing out if pay and benefits are the only questions asked.
Open-ended questions can get exiting employees talking. And you might learn that HR affects the work life of employees in ways and to a degree that you didn’t realize.
#2: Get an Insider View of the Job
Even if you know the exiting employee’s job inside and out, you might not know what it’s like to work in that specific department with the tools available. A fresh set of eyes can work wonders for improving work conditions.
Department culture, working conditions, peer interactions and the job design might all play a role in whether or not an employee works out. And the information that they provide can help you devise a plan to improve each of those factors.
#3: Find Out About Managerial Style
Your interaction with managers might be entirely different from those that a subordinate might have. Harvard says that one prevailing issue is micromanagement. And another is promoting managers based on job qualifications rather than leadership skills.
Exiting employees might be shy about bringing manager issues to light. But if you cultivate a culture where all employees know that opinions are important, ones on their way out might be a bit freer with their feedback.
#4: Gain Competitor Insight
Practically every manager who loses a valuable employee wants to get to the bottom of why it happened. The most common assumptions, naturally, are better pay and benefits elsewhere. Those might play a role. But they might only be a small factor or not a factor at all.
Even if an employee doesn’t leave your company for better pay at another one, comparative information lets you know where your company stands in the industry. It also reveals which companies are stealing away more of your talent.
An exit interview strategy can’t offer much if the results land on a hard drive or in a drawer and stay there. So before embarking on this strategy, everyone involved should commit to using the information to help solve the turnover problem. Without that commitment, interviews might as well not happen at all.
As with committing to act, finding the right exit interview format helps improve the odds of participation. It can also focus the type of information that you get. You might prefer face-to-face interviews, surveys, phone calls or a combination of those strategies used on a case-by-case basis. The important thing is making the choice to learn what you can and analyzing that knowledge to improve the employee experience going forward.
Did you find value in these exit interview tips?
Subscribe to Recruitment ADvisor for more great ideas and HR strategies.