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Untapped Insights: Employee Feedback From Exit Surveys

If history provides us clarity for the future, then employers are well-served taking full advantage of an employee’s exit and alumni experience to benefit the entire organization. Granted, given the importance of the entire spectrum of the employee experience, beginning with recruiting and continuing through the different stages of employment, it's easy to lose perspective and let the abundance of data available in the exit process slip through the cracks.

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However, with technology now providing organizations powerful and convenient solutions to proactively and effectively collect feedback data from exit interviews, polls, and surveys, employers can now rely on streamlined solutions to fully leverage the tremendous opportunity. When correctly implemented and utilized, such platforms allow organizations to better understand what prompts employees to leave, using the data to create new policies and procedures that prevent similar situations from arising in the future and, thus, becoming ongoing and systemic.

 

The Exit Process Is Uniquely Insightful

Since an exiting employee no longer feels the specter of retribution when speaking their mind about an organization, they are more likely to be frank and honest with their opinions under the right circumstances. However, despite the unique insights provided, only 29% of organizations have formal offboarding procedures in place, cutting them off from an untapped reservoir of extraordinarily beneficial information.

Download: Survey Questions for the Employee Experience

Given that uniqueness, an organization must view every individual exit interview or survey as if it’s the one that might provide the critical data needed to successfully fill that vacant position and possibly boost the entire workforce. Although the wealth of data available by effective offboarding feedback programs varies widely by category, some of the specific benefits it can provide include:

  • Identify opportunities for development: Millennials are particularly apt to change employers if they feel undervalued or stagnant. Exit interviews can provide needed information that might prevent additional talented, motivated workers from leaving in the future.
  • Perspective into management issues: Current employees are not likely to speak negatively about management, but when workers consistently exit with similar management gripes, red flags should go up. Feedback from exit interviews might be the only opportunity to gather constructive criticism of managers and their flaws.
  • Stay competitive: While 84% of employees associate good benefits with high job satisfaction, nearly half of the workforce feels they must change employers to find adequate compensation and benefits. Exit interviews can quickly reveal if an organization's benefits package is creating attrition and requires prompt attention.
  • Bolster your brand: Taking the time and effort to ask exiting workers for feedback shows a genuine desire to improve the employee experience, thus strengthening your employer brand. Likewise, exit interviews reveal whether or not branding efforts have been successful and if there's a misalignment between an organization's words and actions, possibly damaging the overall culture.

 

Be Deliberate With Your Offboarding Data Collection Process

Of course, establishing offboarding feedback procedures is only the first step. Employers must also implement them in an appropriate way that is conducive towards honest and open feedback for the data to create reliable, actionable insight. Anonymity often plays a pivotal role in fostering a process that generates accurate information that is not skewed either too positively or negatively and, thus, limiting the feedback's usefulness.

6 Reasons Anonymous Employee Feedback Will Improve Engagement

To find a productive balance between anonymity and thoroughness, a combination of precisely worded surveys and, to a lesser extent, personal exit interviews will maximize the insights into the different factors prompting an employee to leave an organization. HR should devote particular attention to the exit surveys, using questions that are specifically intended to uncover subtleties behind an employee's departure.

Since those subtleties are often complicated and can span across several years, events, and circumstances, an organization should deliberately include these questions in the open-ended section of their exit surveys to maximize the insights provided:

  • What were the primary factors involved in your decision to leave?
  • Did the responsibilities and demands of your position coincide with your expectations?
  • Did you feel adequately supplied with the tools and resources needed for success in your specific position?
  • Were there particular aspects of the organization you enjoyed most?
  • What were the aspects you liked least?

For more survey questions around the exit and other touchpoints of the employee experience, you can download Survey Questions for the Employee Experience.

Other areas of questioning throughout exit interviews and surveys should focus on the many different reasons why an employee chooses to leave an organization, including obvious factors like pay, benefits, management, and organizational culture. Once collected, management should distill the data and use it to create policies and procedures that can effectively counteract any negative drivers to enhance worker satisfaction and the overall employee experience.

Ultimately, exiting feedback programs are meant to provide the employer with vital information needed to optimize the employee experience. While exit interviews and surveys during offboarding obviously play a critical role, a handful of best practices to integrate throughout the different stages of the employee experience can work in conjunction with offboarding feedback to maximize the end result – a more satisfied workforce that is less likely to leave in the first place:

  • Conduct brief interviews in the early days of employment (such as during onboarding) that can serve as an extremely informative mirror to data gathered from exit interviews.
  • Concentrate on frequent feedback throughout employment, not just annual surveys.
  • Meet with team members individually for short weekly or biweekly meetings to create transparency and clear communication channels.
  • Take the insights gathered from exit feedback to inform stay interviews and random surveys throughout all stages of employment.
  • Either collect exit feedback from all employees or none to avoid any negative impact on an organization's overall brand with lower level workers. Organizations that don’t bother to interview exiting lower tier employees can create a schism within the workforce, damaging productivity and the employer brand.

 

Take a Similar Structured Approach to Alumni Feedback

An employee's departure from an organization isn't always smooth and often requires a few weeks for emotions to settle and thoughts to coalesce. For that reason, organizations should wait between two and four weeks before sending out alumnus surveys. Granted, such delays might negatively affect participation rates in the survey but, ultimately, will yield more precise and reliable data. To counteract falling participation, an organization can offer various incentives to complete the survey as well as keep them short, including no more than ten questions.

To further take advantage of the healing power of time, send another survey approximately two months after the first to see if responses have changed or if new information revealed. Once all of the feedback from the different alumnus surveys have been gathered and analyzed, isolate the most insightful data points and provide them to management to highlight any repetitive factors that could be driving attrition. Such factors might require immediate attention to prevent the underlying issues from becoming more widespread. Of course, Hyphen specializes in creating effective alumni feedback that can reveal those types of issues. 

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In the graphic above, a sample alumni survey from a financial services company demonstrates the valuable insights offered by a well-constructed survey. The blue portions of the graphs represent positive sentiment whereas red and grey are negative and neutral, respectively. Of all the insightful feedback culled from the results, the 85% positive response when asked “Would you be willing to return and work with us again?” is especially telling. A concerted effort to entice former employees back to the organization would be a tremendous counterbalance to the negative impact of attrition, requiring significantly less resources to train and ramp-up those former workers brought back into the organizational fold. Likewise, such a dynamic would lower recruiting costs and be beneficial to the overall brand.

The offboarding process presents a tremendous opportunity for organizations to refine and improve the entire employee experience but, unfortunately, is too often left untapped. With Hyphen’s innovative platform, however, employers can conveniently isolate, extract, and analyze valuable people data through exit interviews and surveys.

Read Next: Collecting Employee Feedback From New Hires During OnboardingWith Hyphen, these insights can then be appropriately disseminated to leadership and management to inform any necessary action plans. Rely on Hyphen and its powerful feedback solutions to transform the exit and alumni phases of the employee experience into guideposts for a more satisfied, loyal, and productive work.

 

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