The Great Resignation has resulted in significant data about why employees are leaving their organizations. HR teams shouldn’t let that data go to waste.
“The employee experience spans from pre-hire to retire,” said Jonathan Liebman, a People Strategy Consultant at Lattice. “We really want to understand at the individual level what a person's experience was — and if it was bad, how can we prevent that for the next person we onboard?”
Leveraging exit surveys and exit interviews together can help human resources teams gain a deeper understanding of reasons for turnover in their organization, and make improvements to the employee experience.
The Difference Between Exit Surveys and Exit Interviews
Exit surveys and exit interviews shed light on information that could be crucial for recruiting and retention, and likely resonate with the employees who are still on the team.
Liebman said the greatest misconception is that both tools are mutually exclusive, and they actually work better in tandem. “Think of the exit survey as a macro concept, and the exit interview as a micro concept,” he said.
While these two tools might seem redundant at first, they offer different benefits to HR teams and employees by complementing one another and filling in gaps about employee satisfaction.
What’s an Exit Survey?
Exit surveys measure the exit process for employees. They’re often administered digitally by an HR professional, and filled out by an exiting employee at their own pace. Exit surveys help the company understand:
- Employees’ experiences in the exit process
- Informational gaps in the offboarding process
- Changes to make to employee experience
- Measurable aspects of the employee lifecycle
What’s an Exit Interview?
Exit interviews collect qualitative information about why an employee is departing from an organization. They’re typically conducted face-to-face with a human resources professional virtually or in person. Exit interviews help the company understand:
- Specifics that affected the departing employee
- Competitors’ offerings that attract new talent
- Benefits that could increase employee satisfaction
- Opportunities to prevent more attrition
High employee turnover can put a strain on teams that are already stretched thin; exit interviews and surveys contain a wealth of constructive feedback that can be used to address issues related to work conditions, organizational culture, and employee engagement.
Some departing employees might be hesitant about being candid because they fear retribution or want to stay on good terms with their colleagues. Human resources teams should take time to explain the benefits of exit surveys and interviews to participants, while demonstrating good faith practices about data collection. For example, exiting employees should clearly understand when exit surveys are identifiable (as opposed to anonymous), and who else might have access to their answers.
When exit surveys and interviews are used effectively, both parties can benefit from the opportunity to document valuable information and honest feedback.