Why do people leave, and what can we do about it?

Why do people leave, and what can we do about it?

We all know that high turnover can be a major issue – it is both expensive and time consuming for an organisation to be continually replacing staff and training new employees. In 2013 it was estimated that in New Zealand the average employee turnover rate sat between 11% and 20%, while in 2012 it was estimated to sit at 17.7%. So, how can organisations reduce turnover and the associated expense?  This is not by any means a simple question to answer, and generally leads to the bigger question of why people leave organisations.

The number of variables that go into why an individual chooses to leave their job and/or organisation is huge. They may have been unhappy with their pay, it may have been an issue with their manager, it could be an issue with the job itself, they may want better training opportunities, and the list goes on. Due to the variety of factors involved in turnover, it makes sense to ask staff why they’re leaving, and then use that information to implement changes that are directly targeted at why people move on. This is where the exit interview comes in.

There are some great examples out there of organisations who were spending millions of dollars on turnover per year, who have then implemented a strategic approach to utilising exit interview data and have managed to significantly reduce turnover and the associated costs. On the other hand, there are also many examples of organisations conducting exit interviews and seeing no benefits. So how can your organisation achieve reduced turnover with exit interviewing?

Not all exit interviews are going to give you useful data, and, you will only get useful data out of the exit interview process if you know how to use it. Firstly, exit interviews need to be designed well. Questions should cover the most common reasons that people leave, and provide clear, actionable data. Exit interviews should not be too long, and they should provide opportunity for free comments as well as quantitative ratings.

They should also be easy to complete and analyse.  Online exit interviews have been found to lead to significantly larger participation rates compared to paper and pencil, and also facilitate effective and efficient use of the data. In the click of a button exiting employees can be sent an online exit interview, which can then be filled in at their own convenience or alternatively in a phone call with HR or an outside consultant. The data can then be reported on at an individual, group, and organisational level at any frequency, providing useful information and trends about why people leave the organisation. Such an approach is also cost and time effective, while giving you clear direction on how to keep people for longer.

Why wouldn’t you want to take a strategic approach to exit interviews?

For information about OPRA’s exit interview offering please see www.exitinterviewer.com

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