Feedback from employees is vital to drive better understanding of your organisation – and to make data driven decisions to improve strategy and tactics. Bringing together feedback and surveys from across the employee journey, from the initial recruitment process to exit interviews and beyond, using a central platform is crucial to creating greater insight into staff concerns.

However, many organisations still don’t get the most out of exit interviews, treating them as an afterthought, or a tick box exercise, if they provide them at all. This risks missing out on invaluable feedback, that can help improve operations, prevent further exits and build good future relations with leavers. Additionally, the world of work is changing rapidly, with employees and leavers now able to share their experiences with a much wider group of people through social media and sites such as Glassdoor. Fail to treat them fairly and listen to their concerns and negative feedback could well damage your employer brand and harm future recruitment and working relationships.

Run properly, exit interviews benefit both the employee and the employer in four main ways:

1          Closure for both sides
First and foremost, exit interviews provide the chance for employees to give unfettered feedback around why they are leaving, as well as a chance to achieve closure. This isn’t always the case, but most employees will be keen to leave with dignity and reputation intact, to ensure that their reference is secure and that bridges remain resolutely unburned. Obviously any feedback needs to be cross-referenced and investigated to ensure that it is based on fact, not misconceptions or malice, but in most cases this can be checked relatively easily.

2          Safeguard corporate reputation
The world of work has changed dramatically, meaning that ex-employees are likely to come back in contact with their old employer, either as a candidate for a new role, a customer or simply as an influencer in their market. They also have a wide range of tools, from social media and sites such as Glassdoor, to word of mouth, where they can give their opinion of your organisation and how they were treated, impacting how your company is seen by potential recruits and prospects. Therefore taking a sensitive approach to exit interviews can help protect your employer brand and future customer relationships.

3          Changing processes and procedures
Although most people cite job dissatisfaction, managerial relationships, recognition, reward and career development as reasons for leaving, delving into the details can uncover grievances which could have been easily addressed, or underlying problems that haven’t yet fully surfaced. It could be that these are issues that no-one was aware of, and fixing them can benefit the company going forward.

4          Avoiding future exits
When a talented employee decides to leave, the employer’s reaction is often “if only we could have done something to prevent that decision”. It may be too late to save that particular individual, but a well-constructed exit interview can help to prevent similar departures. This is particularly true if data from exit interviews is collected across the company, linked to other feedback, such as employee surveys, via a single platform, and analysed for patterns. For example, if a large number of a specific demographic (such as graduates), are leaving at the same time, there could be a wider problem that you need to address.

Checklist for Exit Interviews
Every organisation is obviously different, but following this simple checklist should ensure you get maximum value from exit interviews:

Recent research estimated that over 7 million employees plan to leave their jobs in 2016 – while employers should focus on retaining key talent, if staff do leave it is vital that the exit process is managed well if companies are to learn and improve going forward.