Losing skilled staff? You need to learn from your leavers.

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Employees find new jobs and move on. That’s the normal flux and flow of running an organisation. But if you’re losing skilled staff and it’s starting to impact your operation, it’s time to learn from your leavers.

It’s important to get a clear picture of why people leave, in case it gives you clues on what you need to be doing differently.

You might not be able to save that particular team member from exiting once they’ve handed in their resignation letter. But what you discover might prove to be a hidden goldmine.

If former staff can share clues about what does or doesn’t work inside your organisation, it’ll put you in a stronger position when it comes to attracting and retaining good team members of the future.

Consider post-exit interviews

Some employers conduct exit interviews before workers hit the road. But that’s not always possible, for various reasons.

There might not be enough time on the day, or emotions could be running high if it’s a tricky departure. The employee might still fully feel ‘in the moment’ and that not enough time or space have elapsed to give them a clear picture of why they’re leaving.

And from their perspective, how can an exiting team member feel they can be honest if they still hope to get a glowing reference from an employer?

So our advice at HR GO is to hold tight. If possible, wait at least a few weeks before reaching out to former employees to find out more. Forget exit interviews – it’s time for post-exit interviews instead.

What can you discover?

When it comes to post-exit interviews, it’s best to approach them as a discovery project to find out why that employee left. How not to view them? As a way to attract that person back to your company with a juicy counter offer or beefed up perks and benefits.

If they do express an interest in returning, that’s great. Just be aware of the pros and cons of hiring ex-employees.

But they’re more likely to share valuable insights if you stress beforehand that you’ll be having a no-strings chat, and what they tell you may contribute to better policies in the future.

Get crucial insights

Whether you meet an ex-employee in person, schedule a call, or send a survey, there are certain issues it’s good to cover during your post-exit interview.

Aim to find out issues that might have been instrumental in the build-up to quitting, as well as about the moment they made the decision to leave, too. Given this, here are a few of the questions you could ask:

  • What did you enjoy about your role?
  • How would you like to see your role change?
  • Did you feel supported when you were part of our team?
  • Were you given clear goals and objectives?
  • Did you have all the tools needed to be successful at your job with us?
  • How did you feel about the company culture?
  • How did you view the working conditions?
  • Why did you start looking for a new job?
  • Could we have done more to keep you?

Make positive changes

You can’t retain valued employees unless you know why you're losing skilled staff. So, doing exit (or in this case, post-exit) interviews are crucial, especially if you have a turnover problem.

But those post-exit interviews only count if you put the information you’ve collected to use. So make sure any takeaways are acted on.

It’s worth doing. Insights could help you reduce employee turnover and be better placed to attract star employees in the future.

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