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Employees leave organisations every year. It’s an inevitability in every workplace, no matter the industry. Can you think of a person who has worked their entire career with one company? It is an extremely rare occurrence.
Yes, employee retention is important, but it’s simply a fact of life that some employees will leave your organisation. And that’s okay, as long as it’s handled correctly.
When an employee leaves an organisation, it’s essential to gather feedback and capture the reasons behind their decision to leave. This insight can enable organisations to make positive changes to reduce talent attrition.
A good way to capture feedback is to implement an exit survey as part of the offboarding process. Read on to find out why exit surveys are valuable and tips for making your exit surveys count.
An exit survey is a questionnaire sent to employees as they leave a company. Exit surveys are designed to uncover why the employee has decided to leave and to gain insight into their experiences with your organisation.
The responses can paint a clear picture of how your company performs in different areas such as culture, leadership, and development.
Each organisation will typically standardise their exit survey so all data can be collated and analysed easily. They are sent to exiting employees by HR via email, or through a platform like Xref.
Xref Exit Surveys enables HR to collect, measure, and analyse data around employee sentiment. Organisations can customise the HR-approved questionnaire template to ensure they are gathering feedback on areas that matter most to them.
Once the survey has been completed, the data is presented in a report so HR can easily visualise patterns and spot trends. Armed with data-driven insights, the business can implement positive change.
Although used interchangeably, exit surveys are different from exit interviews. Exit surveys are completed online, whereas an exit interview is typically an in-person (or virtual) discussion. It is common for the HR department to conduct exit interviews with the departing employee and record their responses.
Exit surveys are arguably more productive than exit interviews because they are completed independently. This means there is less risk of unconscious bias, as the respondent cannot be swayed by the interviewer’s prompts. The more honest the survey responses are, the more valuable they are, and the richer the insights will be.
Conducting exit surveys is sometimes perceived as a box-ticking exercise; a human resources initiative that doesn’t yield results. In fact, the opposite is true.
Surveying employees is valuable at all points of the employee lifecycle, but feedback from departing employees is particularly valuable. This is because they are more likely to be open with their opinions. The more honest the feedback, the more useful it can be.
Feedback from exit surveys helps an organisation to understand what they do well, and what areas of the business need improvement. Negative feedback is still valuable as long as it’s constructive and may uncover some issues that cause friction among team members. Addressing such issues can help to prevent problems before they occur, thus leading to improved employee engagement and retention in future.
Exit surveys can uncover roadblocks in career development. For example, employees may not see a path for growth at your company so are forced to look elsewhere. Addressing this can improve work culture, reduce attrition and open the door for future employees to thrive at your organisation.
Asking for feedback from employees as they walk out of the door shows them you care about their opinion. This leaves a positive lasting impression. After all, word of mouth is powerful and you want ex-employees to have good things to say about your business.
Xref Exit Surveys give departing employees the option to ‘opt-in’ to being contacted about future opportunities at your company. This creates a talent pool of happy, skilled professionals who would “boomerang” back if the right opportunity presented itself.
Boomerang employees (people who leave a company but return at a later date) are worth their weight in gold when it comes to the knowledge they bring back to a company. Hiring boomerang employees also reduces recruitment time and spend.
Exit surveys are a good way to identify employees who can be advocates for your organisation, even after their tenure has ended. Brand advocates share positive sentiments about your organisation and are more likely to refer talented peers in their network. By identifying such people, you can build an alumni network (more on this later).
Now that we know the benefits of exit surveys – and why they’re more powerful than exit interviews – it’s time to craft the questions to put into an exit survey.
There is a temptation to ask as many questions as possible and touch on every aspect of the employee experience, but this isn’t necessary as it may overwhelm survey respondents and could affect the survey response rate. Instead, identify the topics that are relevant to your business such as workplace culture, leadership, and diversity and inclusion, and ask questions that speak to those different areas.
An exit survey should have 6-10 questions and take 5-10 minutes to complete.
Below are examples of exit survey questions used in Xref Exit Surveys. For each, the respondent is asked to rate how well they agree with the statement on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly agree”) and are given the option to provide additional comments.
Q: I felt informed about the measures [company] was taking to improve diversity and inclusion.
Q: [Company] is committed to improving the culture within the organisation.
Q: My relationship with my manager was good.
Q: [Company] demonstrates care and support for employees’ mental wellbeing.
Q: I was adequately trained, equipped, and prepared to effectively perform my role
Q: I have provided feedback to succeed in my role.
Q: I was happy with my salary at [Company].
HR professionals can use the survey template in Xref Exit Surveys, and customise it how they see fit.
The responses from an exit survey can provide a roadmap for improving your organisational metrics. However, gathering responses is only worthwhile if you act on the feedback.
With exit survey findings you can:
The more exit surveys that are completed, the more useful, real-time data you will collect. You can then start to benchmark data and look at different variables, such as leadership, a change initiative, culture and employee benefits.
Exit survey responses can help you to understand what employees like and dislike about your company. You can then use this data-backed insight to make changes with the goal of attracting top talent.
Another way to attract talent using Xref Exit Surveys is to ask respondents to give you an employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). This is a popular feedback mechanism to understand employee satisfaction and sentiment. It typically asks:
“On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being “extremely unlikely” and 10 being “extremely likely”), how likely are you to recommend [company name] to your friends, family or network as a place to work?”
You can then use an eNPS score as an employer brand tool to appeal to potential candidates.
Xref Exit Surveys automatically collates the data collected from employees and displays it in the Insights tab. Insights displayed include an eNPS and metrics showing how different aspects of the organisation perform and are perceived.
Exit surveys are only valuable if they are created and distributed with care. To make the most out of your exit surveys, follow the below tips.
Employee exit surveys are incredibly valuable tools for all businesses in all industries. They can indicate organisational health and, due to their online nature, are more reliable than exit interviews.
When you next have an employee resign, don’t let them walk straight out of the door. Have a process in place to capture some truthful, last-minute feedback that can help you to address attrition now and in the future.
A platform like Xref automates and simplifies the exit survey process. Xref Exit Surveys are sent to departing employees and are completed independently, with minimal input from HR, saving precious time and resources.