Stop wasting time.
Recently I was discussing exit interviews with a client who believes in and practices them. In fact, their interviews are pretty lenghty. Their rationale for same included many of the textbook reasons I remember former employers espousing to me as a newbie.
Here's my perspective: exit interviews are a waste of time.
That we should try to assess feelings about our company is without question. We should care both about how attractively we're perceived in the labor market as well as what our employees really think about our culture.
Yet, that information has to be systemic and real-time to be of value.
Exit intervierws are neither.
Recall that exit interviews are hand-me-downs and as such, don't quite fit. They're a relic from a time when HR had no other way to gauge employee attitutudes about the company. And while they may have worked decades ago they don't work now.
The input we get from them is sanitized, homogenized and standardized: its of little value.
And by the way, the employee is leaving. We haven't influenced attrition downward.
What to do
For good data on workplace attractiveness there are more effective systems:
- Salary studies and compensation studies abound in type, frequency and cost and give us much more concrete information about where we rank in the market than a few subjective remarks from departing employees. By the way, why do people say they're leaving? More money. True? Not really. Most people leave for a combination of reasons – not all bad – but having made the mental decision to go, they look for jobs paying more. Wouldn't you? Who leaves for less?
- Numerous survey systems are in place that were not available decades ago that enable us to question employees on a multitude of things, and social media now gives us a live feed. Rather than wait for people to leave we can pulse them anytime we want. Just remember the key rule of surveys: don't perform them unless you are going to tell people what the survey data said and what, if anything, you plan to do about it
- Open door, skip levels, roundtables, chats, all-hands, townhalls, etc., etc., are all mechanisms to drive real live dialogue between staff and management. I've seen them done well and poorly. Done well people feel unthreatened to say how they feel, management responds in an adult way, and follow-up is shared openely so all parties know whether or not anything is being changed or addressed. Open communication is the essence of transparency
We are a mobile workforce. On average we will experience between seven-twelve employers in a career.
People are going to leave.
Given that, I advise my clients to work harder on uncovering how people feel about the company while they're here. Its absolutely important to understand how employees feel about the total offering, the work and our culture.
I just want to know while there's time to do something positive about it.