HR Management & Compliance

Our Termination and Exit Interviews Survey Is In … How Do You Compare?

Employee termination and turnover are daily challenges for HR—unfortunately, you can’t retain them all! BLR’s Termination and Exit Interviews Survey sought to discover what’s happening in the real world with these important processes. How do your practices stack up?

Employee termination and turnover are daily challenges for HR—unfortunately, you can’t retain them all! BLR’s Termination and Exit Interviews Survey sought to discover what’s happening in the real world with these important processes. How do your practices stack up?

Highlights of the Termination and Exit Interviews Survey (conducted in December 2014):

  • 82% of respondents indicated voluntary termination is more common than involuntary.
  • 89% of participants conduct exit interviews in order to identify problem areas within the organization so they might enhance future retention.
  • Only 5.5% of those surveyed indicated they are “very effective” in acting upon information collected during exit interviews.
  • 17.8% of participants indicated that conducting interviews in person, either on the phone or face-to-face, was one of the most important exit interview practices.
  • Severance pay is offered to departing employees for 32.8% of respondents.

Thanks to all 1,892 individuals who participated in the survey! Here are the detailed responses.

Turnover

Employee turnover can be an issue for employers, especially in a tight labor market. Involuntary termination isn’t usually the problem, or is it? Voluntary termination is almost always a concern for employers—if there’s too much of it. For 82% of survey participants, voluntary termination is more common than involuntary termination.

The first step to keep termination from running rampant in any organization is to find out why employees are leaving. That, of course, begins with tracking turnover, which is why 73.3% of our survey participants have a process in place to do just that. Oddly, 87% know their annual turnover rate even though not all of them track turnover. For example, 16.5% report an annual turnover rate of more than 20% and 11.1% report a rate of 16% to 20%.


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Exit interviews

A hefty 79.5% conduct exit interviews with departing employees, with 81.1% indicating they do so in order to determine the reason for the employees’ resignation. Even more, 89%, conduct them to identify problem areas within the organization in order to enhance future employee retention. And, 68.8% conduct exit interviews to find ways to improve organizational culture. Only 20.3% cite managing turnover cost as a reason for conducting exit interviews. A mere 33.6%, however, conduct exit interviews “all the time” and 43.2% conduct them “most of the time.”

Employee type has a lot to do with whether exit interviews are conducted. For instance, interviews are conducted with departing director level employees for 59.3% and with hourly employees for 82.7%. In fact, the higher the employee’s level the less likely an exit interview will be conducted.

In person is the method of choice for conducting exit interviews for 83.3%, followed by paper surveys for 36.3% and phone interviews for 25.2%. Online surveys round out the group with 14.1%. Conducting exit interviews internally is preferred by 96.1%, with HR handling the task for 90% and the departing employee’s direct supervisor conducting the session for 13.6%. Most exit interviews (45.8%) are conducted during the departing employee’s notice period and 43.1% take place on the last day of employment. Exit interviews are conducted within the first week after leaving for 11.2%. 

Regarding the exit interviews that are conducted externally (by an outside third party), 61% are confidential with names and other unique identifiers not available to the employer. Regular reports from their vendor are received by 40% while customized reports are received by 16%. Another 30% access their reports online, and 10% are debriefed by the outside third party.

Surprisingly, only 36.7% include a compliance/ethics question regarding unethical, illegal, or fraudulent behavior as part of the exit interview. Exit interview information is reported/reviewed sporadically for 40.8% and weekly for 4%. Monthly is the norm for 12.1% and quarterly works for 14.7%.

Exit interview information is relayed verbally to senior management for 45.8% and via e-mail for 22.8%. Only 15.4% formally review the information with senior management.

Exit interview information is somewhat valued by senior management for 36.7% and very valued for 17.7%. The information is somewhat effectively acted upon for 43.9% and very effectively acted upon for 5.5%. Getting senior management buy-in is a hurdle to effectively utilizing exit interview information for 25.9%, and creating an action plan is a challenge for 19.6%.

Exit interview information is used as a guideline for future organizational improvement for 50.2% of survey participants. It is used to create an action plan to resolve issues that surfaced for 20.7%. Of those who create action plans, 92% utilize internal resources led by an internal initiative leader. 


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Metrics

When asked about the type(s) of metrics used to monitor the effectiveness of action taken with regard to exit interview information, 4.3% track their action plan success rate, and 2.7% track retention rate. Turnover rate is tracked by 9.7% with 2.72% tracking turnover by department and/or supervisor and 1.8% tracking voluntary turnover.

A hefty 40.5% have no metrics for monitoring the effectiveness of their action plans. Their responses included interesting comments such as: 

“We are a small organization with only 2 people in our HR department and once we conduct the exit interview we don’t do anything with the information. Some of our senior management don’t see the value and look at it as a way for the employee to bash the organization.”

“We are so small of a company that HR can report back to the CEO if there were positive or negative improvements as a result of sharing a negative exit interview.”

“We do not even use a standard list of questions. Each manager will ask or not ask whatever they think is important or relevant.”

“Turnover has become so problematic that keeping the open positions filled with competent staff is consuming most of the available resources.”

“We have no metrics since we haven’t implemented any action plans.”

“We do not use anything formal; we simply follow up or know the status because we’re the ones taking the action.”

Another 37.3% indicated that using metrics is not applicable for their organization.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, more results of the 2014 Termination and Exit Interviews Survey, plus we will introduce you to the all-things-HR-in-one-place website, HR.BLR.com.