The importance of running regular employee surveys to capture feedback throughout the lifecycle of an individual's employment is essential. But it's equally as important to obtain this when they are leaving as it is when they join and all the key stages in between.

There can be many contributory factors behind why an employee chooses to leave. Unhappiness with the job, working conditions, relationships with other colleagues or the wider company culture, could be contributing factors. Or, dissatisfaction with salary, company benefits or a lack of opportunities for career progression. Equally, their reasons for moving on may be unrelated to anything the business is or is not doing. Such complexity makes the employee exit survey an essential tool in identifying the triggers behind every employee's decision.

If each survey is conducted in a consistent and standardised way, the feedback from exit surveys can help you to identify any potential correlations or common reasons why staff are leaving. You will then able to use this insight to take any actions you need to further improve your working environment, employee happiness and ultimately reduce staff turnover.

Conducting employee exit interviews

Employee Exit Surveys in the Employee Lifecycle

Although employee exit surveys are carried out at the end of an individual's employment, the insight they reveal can be beneficial to improving other stages of the employee lifecycle.

It could be that a disgruntled employee was unhappy about the quality of support and resources available to do their job during their onboarding, or another individual unhappy about the lack of opportunities for progression, despite excelling in their appraisals.

Capturing employee opinions can be invaluable when you're reviewing the procedures and support you provide at different stages of the employment journey, enabling you to make the improvements that will see staff members happier, better motivated and more fulfilled.

Business Areas Your Employee Exit Survey Could Explore

Before deploying your exit survey it's worth giving careful consideration about whether there are any key business areas you might like to explore, as the feedback you receive could help you to improve them going forward. Some areas you might like to consider include:

Working conditions and culture:

While working conditions can directly impact an employee's motivation levels, the wider organisational culture can also affect how aligned and engaged an individual is to their company's overall aims. Subsequently, exploring these areas in your survey can highlight if there are any aspects you need to address and improve. To get a more detailed picture about what could be affecting your employees' motivation and engagement levels, you might also like to run separate employee motivation and employee engagement surveys.

See also: pulse surveys

Employee/management relations:

The productivity of your departments and teams will have a direct bearing on your success. So, maintaining healthy relations between employees and managers is essential, if you're to optimise your productivity. Your survey can reveal if there any problems with any of these relationships, arming you with the insight you need to get them working harmoniously and effectively again.

See also: employee Net Promoter Score

Employee training and development:

Good training and development opportunities not only help employees to perform effectively but are more likely to keep them happy and motivated too. Your exit survey can reveal what staff really think about the training and opportunities for development that your organisation offers, so you can see what might need changing or improving to keep them happy.

See also: training surveys

Staff pay and benefits:

Although it's impact may not be as significant as some of the other factors, the salary and benefits you provide for your employees may cause some of them to consider leaving. It may be a significant time since you last reviewed the pay and benefits structure in your organisation. If your exit survey indicates there's been a flurry of recent leavers unhappy about your provision in this area, it may be time to take another look at it. For a more detailed investigation into how benefits can influence employee actions, you may want to consider running an Employee Benefits Survey alongside this too.

See also: employee benefit surveys

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Exit Interview Questions

The questions you ask in your survey are essential to the insight you're able to get back and the positive improvements you will be able to make to your organisation as a result. You might want to start a bit wider and more general and then get more specific with your questions further on in your survey. To help you we've outlined some example questions for exit surveys below.

To start you may want to use a very open-ended question, or prompt employees to select from a few options such as:

What are your most important reasons for leaving the company?
Which of the following factors influenced your decision to leave the organisation?
  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Training
  • Advancement
  • Work conditions
  • Work related stress
  • Work culture
  • Supervision
  • Company leadership

Next, you may decide to explore how an individual felt about their job and working conditions. You may get to them to answer questions such as the following (these prompt respondents to rank their answers from strongly agree to strongly disagree).

Was I able to get all the resources needed to do my job successfully with this organisation?
Do you feel you received adequate recognition for the work you did?

To find out more about their working relationships, how well they felt they fitted in and their views on the wider business, you might like to ask the following (again prompts recipients to rank their answers).

How would you describe the company culture here? Did you feel welcome and made to fit in?
How well were you able to communicate with your immediate supervisor? (rank your answers from extremely well to not at all well)

You could then move onto training and development type questions, to get a feel for how well your employees felt supported and provided with opportunities to progress. Suitable questions to ask include:

On a scale from 1 to 5, how well were you trained in order to perform your job effectively?
How would you say your opportunities for growing your role/promotion/personal growth were? (using a rating scale from "very bad" to "excellent".)
Ask the right exit interview questions

Benefits of Employee Exit Surveys

If you have covered off the right areas and asked the right questions your employee exit survey can produce a wealth of benefits including:

  • Improving employee relations and your wider organisational culture:

    If your exit surveys reveal a lot of problems with employee/management and team relations in your organisation, it will give you the chance to make the improvements you need. This will not only get your teams working more effectively together again but should benefit your wider culture too, in terms of your employees' alignment and commitment to your overall aims.

  • Motivating and re-engaging staff:

    If you've identified a lot of frustration and concern among departing employees about the training and development opportunities you offer, it will give you the opportunity to take another look at these and make any improvement you need including tweaks to job descriptions to make them more fulfilling. Such improvements can be extremely beneficial in re-energising and motivating employees.

  • Attracting and retaining more talent:

    Similarly, if your survey results revealed a lot of dissatisfaction with your salary and benefits, you might decide to make them more attractive, so they compete more favourably with others in your industry. In such a scenario you'll be able to retain more talent and attract higher quality applicants when you need to recruit again.

  • Cutting your turnover costs:

    The costs of replacing employees is generally more than retaining them. A recruit will also be less productive when they start, as they need time to get up to speed. So, if as result of the improvements you've made to working conditions and training, you're able to retain more staff, you'll also save a lot more money.

Best practices for employee exit surveys

Exit Survey Best Practices

If you're to get the greatest value from running an employee exit survey programme and be able to make the improvements your workforce and wider organisation needs, you need to ensure you have a good foundation to work from. Subsequently, there are several best practices to consider.

  1. Be totally transparent about what you're doing:

    For many people who are close to leaving a company, participating in an employee exit survey programme will probably be the last thing on their minds. But if you explain how valuable and constructive their feedback could be in enabling you to make further improvements and positive changes for existing staff, most people will be happy to get involved. This will increase participation rates and the volume of useful information you have available to work with.

  2. Think about including employee exit interview:

    To get more detailed and comprehensive feedback from your departing staff you may want to think about running a face to face employee exit interview alongside your survey. Starting with an online survey is likely to provide you with the largest volume of information and honest feedback, which you can then supplement with an interview to fill in any gaps or probe for more detail if there were any comments you found particularly interesting.

  3. Create and develop an ongoing action plan:

    Having taken the time to create, collect and analyse feedback from your employee exit survey, they will be of no value if you don't act and learn from them. Therefore, you need to create an ongoing action plan, which you can continually update as employees leave, so you can make any necessary improvements for the benefit of employees that remain.

Employee Exit Survey Software

The employee survey software you use is the critical foundation for your research and will ultimately determine how engaging it is to employees, the response you get back and how easily and effectively you're able to make improvements based on your results.

With your survey software in place this is simple to achieve thanks to:

User-friendly survey software:

Whatever mix of closed or open questions you're looking to include and in whatever format, it's quick and easy to do with our simple to use survey tools, which include ready-made and customisable templates, an extensive question library and advanced features.

Flexible and wide-ranging distribution options:

From email and web to SMS, it's easy to reach out and encourage your employees to complete your survey in way and at a time that is most convenient for them. This helps to maximise your response rate and what you're able to do with the information.

Strong analysis and reporting tools:

Not only is it easy to identify trends or correlations in your data, strong reporting tools with smart dashboards featuring a wide range of charts and graphical formats, means it's simple to present your findings to colleagues and employees, and communicate what you intend to do next.

Exit Interview Templates

With potentially a wide range of different questions and areas you would like to cover off in your employee exit survey and exit interview if you decide to run one, it's always helpful to draw on some ready-made examples. So, to help, you may want to look at our selection of fully customisable HR survey templates.

Employee benefit survey template

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