With various sources stating that humans are now predicted to spend as much as a third of their lives at work, and the retirement age continuing to rise ever higher, it is no wonder that UK employees expect more from the workplace than ever before.
The average person is believed to change their job between 10 to 15 times over the course of their career, and spend an average of five years or less in each position – meaning that far more time and attention is now devoted to transitioning from one job to another.
With this in mind, exit interviews; in whatever shape or form a company may wish to conduct them; have therefore never been more important. A Forbes survey found that in 2015, 2.8 million people in the UK voluntarily quit their jobs, and despite suffering a somewhat more precarious and unstable economy in more recent years, employees are still moving jobs and workplaces at a rate that has never been seen before.
What is an exit interview?
Essentially, an exit interview is the reverse of the interview that you would conduct at the start of the recruitment process to fill a role. Usually involving a senior manager and/or representative from your HR team, it is used to provide an outlet for the departing employee to reflect on their working experience, and for HR teams to gain a valuable insight into employee experiences within their business.
Why do businesses use them?
Exit interviews are primarily conducted to understand and improve upon the wider employee experience of working within a business.
By taking the time to fully understand a departing employee’s reasons for leaving an organisation, especially if the employee is a highly-valued member of staff, a business may well be able to gain helpful insights into talent attraction and retention.
They also serve as a chance to gain a more honest staff perspective on the wider structure of your business, team dynamics, and a general sense of staff morale and positivity levels.
What do HR gain from exit interviews?
Exit interviews can provide invaluable opportunities to assess staff retention, and to identify reoccurring problems that might be leading to high levels of staff resignation. With many businesses in the current climate facing a problematic skills shortage, firms are increasingly looking to upskill current employees in order to the bridge the gap.
Equally, recruiting and training new employees can be expensive, and identifying key reasons for high staff turnover levels is key way to try and reduce any unnecessary business costs, as well as improving general staff morale and productivity. Exit interviews are a great way to try and do this, and whilst it may be too late to try and retain the employee in question, it can HR to put together an effective strategy to eliminate reoccurring issues, and to avoid unnecessary resignations going forward.
Increasingly, HR teams are also being expected to provide supporting data and metrics for any number of business scenarios, as well existing as a key standard of measurement by which HR business performance can be measured. Exit interviews are just one area that can tap into this trend, and utilising and harnessing information from departing employees can be a great way to provide high-quality, measurable data.
Additionally, exit interviews can be used to uncover any major discrepancies between employees’ expectations and the reality of their job roles. For example, if departing employees in similar job roles raise the issue that the role was too analytical compared to their skillset, the issue may not necessarily be with your business. It may be something as simple as rewording the job description for this particular role in order to provide those applying with a more accurate impression of what the job entails.
What do employees gain from exit interviews?
On the side of the employee, exit interviews can provide an excellent way to gain a sense of closure, and the chance to leave a working relationship on cordial terms. It can be difficult for an employee to remain pleasant and professional if they have serious problems or concerns that have led them to decide to leave your business, but in general, the exit interview can provide a formal space in which to provide constructive feedback.
Employees leaving your business are also more likely to be frank and honest about areas for improvement, providing honest feedback that might not be gained from other members of staff. They may also wish to provide insights into problems that their old team or manager may be experiencing, and suggest ways in which these issues could be effectively resolved.