How Exit Interviews Save Billions

August 25, 2017 by Casey Miller

In May 2017, about 5.1 million employees decided to leave their jobs in the United States.


About 70% left because they were disengaged. And of those, only 30% of participated in exit interviews.  According to research, 60% of HR managers say they make use of data gathered from exit interviews. That means that out of 3.5 million people who left for reasons of disengagement, only 630,000 had their opinions used to better the companies they worked for. Just 18%.

Now let’s talk money. According to the best studies out there, disengaged employees cost companies $3,400 for every $10,000 in salary. This equals about $350 billion a year, or about $29 billion a month. And if you consider that in May, only 18% of opinions were used to improve their companies bottom lines, that is only about $5 billion, or 1.4% of the total annual waste to disengagement.

Imagine what the savings could be if companies actually listened to those exit interviews and invested in their corporate cultures!

Done right, exit interviews can shed light on a vast number of things about your company’s culture. In designing an exit interview strategy, here are 5 questions you should ask:

1. Did you have enough information and resources to adequately do your job?

Most employees site a lack of transparency and a lack of information as the biggest sources of disengagement.  If you want your employees to stick around, find out if those who are leaving felt equipped enough to perform their jobs?

2. How could relationships with your manager have been improved?

Note that you should not ask, ‘what was your relationship with your manager like?’ If you are asking that question, it is a clear demonstration that your organization invests little time, energy, or resources into healthy relationships.  Framing the question this way is an opportunity for both employee (and employer) to self-reflect.

3. At work, did you have the opportunity to do what you do best?

Another source of disengagement is a misalignment between job function and purpose.  Employees, like all humans, want to connect with something larger than themselves, and lend their skills to it. If those skills are not being utilized, attrition is inevitable.

4. Did you have adequate opportunities for growth and development?

Employees want to perennially hone their skills.  Indeed,  in his book Drive, Daniel Pink states that mastery is one of the three fundamental ingredients for intrinsic motivation.  Indeed, there is an direct relationship between how much professional development an employee gets and corporate culture health.

5. When was the last time you were recognized for a job well done?

Research shows that employees need recognition for their contributions on average at least once a week. Just how that recognition is done, however, varies by person.  Some like it public, others in private.  Some like verbal recognition whereas others in an email.  Don’t know what style your employees prefer?  Ask them.

Casey Miller

Casey Miller

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