You need to know why people are leaving your organisation. Unfortunately, people leaving is a normal part of organizational behavior. And often, it seems that the best people leave without nearly enough warning. It is exactly for this reason that understanding why people leave (and how to prevent further loss) is a critical tool within any talent-minded manager’s toolbox.

Of course, many organisations understand that they need to capture data from leaving staff members, and so have invented the exit interview. This venerable stalwart of HR processes is intended to get to the bottom of why the exiting staff member has decided to resign.

However, in our experience at Omnicor, exit interviews, conducted in the traditional face-to-face mode, often don’t deliver the goods.

Here are some reasons why traditional exit interviews often fail:

  1. Face-to-face interviews are more difficult than they appear. Having a conversation with someone who has resigned is never easy. Emotions can run high on both sides, and there is often social pressure to keep things civil and therefore, less than honest. Also, because an exit interview schedule may include tough questions (e.g. “What was your experience of your manager?”), the interviewer may skip these or alter them to make the interview more palatable
  2. Interview data tends to be overly-qualitative and patchy. Interviews lend themselves to qualitative questions (i.e. “Tell me about your experience of X”). While these types of questions offer rich insights into an individual’s reasons for leaving, it is far less obvious how to summarize such data for organizational and management intelligence. All too often, exit interview data never rises above the individual employee level. This is a shame, because once aggregated, quantitative data can reveal important trends and insights for the organization as a whole.
  3. Interview results are often difficult to action. Even if you manage to compile a series of exit interviews into a cohesive whole, it’s not always obvious what to do about the results. What’s needed is a more practical, actionable framework within which to apply you insights. Sadly, interview data does not always lend itself to application.

From the above, you can probably guess that we’re not fans of traditional exit interviews. They seem to be too limited, too flawed to really be of much use. But there is an alternative!

In future posts, we’ll be discussing this alternative: an automateddigital exit survey that provides both individual and organizational insights.

For more on our digital exit solutions, see: this page