Do Exit Interviews Improve Employee Retention?

exit interviews

Do Exit Interviews Improve Employee Retention?

“We do exit interviews” is the most common response from our clients and prospects when we first ask how they cut turnover. These responses bring to mind these questions:

  1. Have you cut your turnover by conducting exit interviews? Or substantially improved your organization by doing them?
  2. Who do you do exit surveys for? Do you do them for the benefit of the organization, or the leaving employee, or for yourself?

I raise this somewhat cynical second question because I have insights into the first one.In the past two years I’ve spoken to over 6,000 HR executives and have always asked question #1. The number of people who have answered affirmatively, that exit interviews have actually helped their organizations, is twelve.

Exit interviews make sense at first glance. Leaving employees tell us why they are leaving so we can fix those things so others stay. Breakdowns happen because some employees don’t tell the truth, but two other shortcomings are most responsible for making exit interviews a waste of time and these are:

* No one is accountable for fixing the broken things so they get reported and that’s the end.

* HR then steps in with the types of fixes they can provide in the form of programs such as employee appreciation week, town hall meetings, and better newsletters.

We don’t need to be industrial psychologists to know that employees don’t make stay/leave decisions based on the quality of town hall meetings. They stay or leave for very local things like trusting my boss, liking my duties, and enjoying my colleagues. No program can fix these things…but good bosses can. What do you think? Agree or disagree?