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Using data from Exit Surveys to reduce attrition

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Competition for talent is high right now and no one knows this better than recruiters and Human Resources teams. 

Across the world, 77% of employers reported difficulty in filling roles. According to Manpower Group, this is the highest rate in 17 years. 

With everyone in the same boat, recruiters and HR teams have been thinking more creatively when it comes to sourcing talent and reducing attrition. 

Shelby Lindsay from Weir Minerals Australia recently shared her tips on filling roles during a talent shortage including establishing a presence in offline environments like trade expos and TAFEs and using technology to automate processes and save time. 

Xref also recently hosted a panel discussion in New Zealand where key strategies for overcoming talent shortages were discussed. 

In this blog, we discuss the main takeaways from a conversation with Xref Account Executive, Jack Burke, who tells us how organisations can use data gathered from exit surveys to reduce attrition. 

Why reducing attrition is important 

In a candidate-short market, hiring talent is difficult and so is retention. 

“Speaking with organisations from all different industries, it’s clear everyone is struggling to hire and retain key talent,” says Jack. “Unemployment rates are continuing to remain low and a high number of opportunities are still available.” 

Employees are getting enticed by different offers and every departure means there’s another spot for recruiting teams to fill. 

Improving retention is just as important as attracting new talent. HR teams have been looking at different ways to reduce attrition and improve offboarding so organisations can maintain a positive brand image and leave the door open to alumni. 

Jack says recruiting and HR teams “are looking for methods and technology to get ahead of the competition and stand out in the local market.” 

One of these methods involves implementing exit surveys. 

How an exit survey can help reduce attrition

It might seem counter-intuitive, but an exit survey can in fact help reduce employee attrition in the long run. 

When it comes to stemming attrition, gaining insight from the right data is crucial. According to Jack, “You have to really look at the source of the problem, is it across your organisation or within certain teams or departments?” 

The deeper question is, how do you find the source of the problem? It makes sense to ask departing employees directly about their decision to leave and how those employees feel about your organisation. 

Jack says organisations often enquire about an employee’s departure but usually gather anecdotal evidence or insufficient information for data analysis. 

Properly conducted exit surveys allow organisations to collect data from departing employees to calculate attrition rates, and identify patterns and key areas for improvement. 

Exit surveys are different to exit interviews. Both are similar because they share the same objective which is to gain feedback from departing employees about their experience at the organisation and use it to make positive lasting changes. 

However, the main difference is their approach. Exit interviews are usually conducted with an HR representative and the departing employee. Whereas exit survey responses are mostly collected without the need to meet. This can be beneficial as employees can share honest feedback without the fear of reproach.  

Exit surveys can be completed online by employees and survey results can be immediately benchmarked and compared to responses from other participants. 

With exit surveys, organisations can collect data and identify key areas for improvement very quickly. “Once you have the key areas highlighted, you can build your people program to tackle these areas and create a more engaged and happy team”, says Jack.

In short, by including exit surveys in offboarding programs, organisations can collect crucial data that helps them understand why people leave which in turn, can prevent attrition and strengthen people programs overall. 

Xref branded graphic with Account Executive, Jack Burke's headshot and quote on building an engaged team(above)

Choosing an exit survey provider 

Jack says organisations have a few options when it comes to exit surveys. From a Google form to a third party platform, like Xref, there’s plenty of choice for HR teams. 

Ideally, organisations will choose a method that allows exit survey questions to be created with ease and then conduct the survey privately (this can improve response rates and levels of honesty). Tech options like Xref allow HR teams and managers to analyse survey data quickly and easily. 

It’s also a good idea to choose an option that provides added benefits. “Xref is unique as it offers two features that can highly benefit our customers,” says Jack.  These include:

Talent pooling 

With Xref, you can offer survey respondents the opportunity to ‘opt-in’ to be included into talent pools for future re-hiring. It leaves the door open for boomerang employees. “We’re seeing high attrition rates across the board yet sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” says Jack. 

“With Xref you’ll have a talent pool of exited employees who have opted in to hear about future opportunities with you. You can contact them with the click of a button” 

Manager verification 

Xref’s Exit Survey process also allows for the line manager verification of an employee’s performance and skills. 

After an employee completes an exit survey and opts into a talent pool, their manager can then leave a note about their performance and skills.  With this method, Jack shares, “you can have a clear assessment of the individual and a recommendation as to whether they are suitable for rehire.” 

Manager verification is an area often overlooked during the exit process. “It’s extremely beneficial when you’re looking to rehire and a previous manager has moved on from the organisation,” says Jack. 

“Xref’s exit survey platform can help transform your offboarding process and deliver key analysis and deep insights to help retain talent.” 

A large aged-care provider improves retention with exit surveys 

One of Jack’s clients is a large aged-care provider. Jack helped the organisation implement Exit Surveys so they could discover the key reasons behind their high employee attrition rate. 

“There have been fantastic results in a short amount of time,” says Jack. “Over 200 Exit Surveys have been completed with a 70% response rate. 21% of those exiting opted to hear about future employment opportunities.” 

Xref branded green graphic with results from Exit Surveys conducted by a large aged-care provider

The organisation was also able to identify two key reasons for attrition: career progression and salary. “Now that they have this information, the HR team can put together recommendations for reducing attrition and creating a more engaging environment for their team members.” 

Final thoughts 

A candidate-short market has presented challenges to recruiters and HR teams worldwide. Savvy people and culture teams are turning this challenge into an opportunity to improve systems and get more creative with hiring and retention strategies. 

Exit surveys are a key strategy HR teams can use to find out why employees are leaving an organisation and keep the door open to desirable alumni. Exit surveys can offer rich data insights that organisations can use now and in the future to create stronger people programs and reduce attrition.

Try it for yourself, book a free Xref Exit Surveys demo today.

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