You are on page 1of 10

Guideline

August 2015

Guide to developing
exit interviews

au or (02) 9272 6000 Revision History Version Date Summary of changes 1 29 September 2015 Document created and approved for publication .nsw.Guide to developing exit interviews Guide to developing exit interviews Status Active Document number G2015_Guide to exit interviews File number A2990898 Application  Public Service Departments  Public Service Executive Agencies related to Departments  Public Service Separate Agencies  Government Sector Agencies  State Owned Corporations Category HR Strategy & Planning Summary Information to help agencies to develop an exit interview program Publication date 29 September 2015 Review / Cancellation date 30 September 2017 Author Public Service Commission Previous Reference 4-7 Personnel Handbook Contact for enquiries enquiries-psc@psc.gov.

........................4 Confidentiality ...................................Guide to developing exit interviews Contents 1 Introduction .......................................................................... 2 2..................................................................................................................... 2 2........... 4 3 Implementation .................................................................... 3 2............................................................................................................................................... 5 3.............................. 1 1................................................................................................ 1 2 Planning .................................... 5 4 Report and act on findings ...................................................................................................2 Timing.................................................................................. 7 ............................................................................................ 3 2........................................................................................................................1 Potential benefits .................1 Design principles ..................................................................... 2 2......2 Data collection method ...............................................................5 Communication ...............................1 Administration...................................................................3 Other design considerations .......................................................................... 5 3.................................................

or shortly after. individual agencies are best placed to design. which may also be undertaken as a paper-based or online survey. The process. develop and implement an exit interview program that suits their agency’s operational and employment conditions. Given the diversity of Government sector workplaces. retention and performance. The purpose of this guide is to support agencies to do this according to best practice from within and outside the public sector. can be an invaluable organisational tool for diagnostic and strategic planning purposes. they leave an organisation to gauge their perception of working in the organisation. 1.Guide to developing exit interviews 1 Introduction Exit interviews are structured discussions held with employees before.1 Potential benefits Information from exit interviews can help agencies to assess organisational strengths and vulnerabilities. A2990898 Guide to developing exit interviews UNCLASSIFIED Page 1 . and target workforce management strategies to drive talent attraction.

there is no single best strategy: the process of data collection and medium used depends on the unique needs of the organisation. CEB Corporate Leadership Council. misalignment between employee experience and agency employee value proposition . and/or workforce segment . turnover trends at an organisation or unit level.5 2003/04.2 Data collection method Research1 shows that interviews and online surveys are the two most common strategies to collect feedback from employees as they exit an organisation. shifts in employee preferences . regional or business level requirements. 2. 1 No.Guide to developing exit interviews 2 Planning 2.1 Design principles The program design should: • have a clear goal and focus • define which employees will participate • enable the agency to identify: . Drake (2004) Exit interviews: How impartial assessments can improve staff retention. Table 1 illustrates some of potential advantages and disadvantages of both formats: Table 1: Potential benefits and risks of interview formats Interview Advantages Disadvantages format Interview  More personal  Resource (financial and/or labour) intensive  Collect more detailed information  Lack anonymity  Tailor questions based on employee  Risk of interviewer bias responses and further explore or  Difficult to accurately capture responses clarify issues raised  May be challenging to benchmark response  Requires a skilled interviewer Online survey  Consistent administration across  Less personal workforce  Limited customisation  Minimal interpretation error  Limited ability to prompt or explore issues  Easily benchmark (internally &  Limited ability to follow-up on allegations. Drake Whitepaper Vol. externally) such as bullying or harassment  Highlight focus areas  Anonymity 1Corporate Leadership Council (2009) Conducting Effective Exit Interviews: Executive Brief. However. A2990898 Guide to developing exit interviews UNCLASSIFIED Page 2 . systemic issues affecting employee retention .employee perception/observation of workplace culture • be structured to align unique organisational. November 2009.

As a guide. how their feedback will be collected and used by the organisation. confidentiality in the process. stored and used. 2. However. a combination of the two strategies may enable agencies to leverage the advantages of each.4 Confidentiality Ensuring confidentiality is a one of the key factors influencing response rates. and time commitment required by the process. or work areas. Alternatively. there should be no more than 25 to 30 questions. and interviews used for roles.and open-ended questions will enable agencies to aggregate responses and identify trends and identify employees’ perspective on specific issues. job design. A2990898 Guide to developing exit interviews UNCLASSIFIED Page 3 . regardless of geographical location. including employees with a disability. The tool/s used should provide structured and unbiased data that:  together with employee (engagement) surveys and workforce metrics provide an evidence-based view of the health of the workforce environment  reflect the whole workforce. Regardless of the strategy adopted. or to identify root cause of any workplace issues. processes. there is no comparable research on response rates for exit interviews. the agency executive). 2. with higher drop-off rates. However. in what form (for example. Confidentiality provisions should be clearly outlined in the agency’s exit interview program. The number.  inform and helps the organisation to define what it has to offer existing and prospective employees  may be collated or aggregated for feedback to the agency leadership  can identify common and localised reasons for employees leaving  can identify action needed to improve organisational systems. 2 Corporate Leadership Council (2003) Exit interview processes. including how the information will be collected. such as. Provisions should outline if the information collected will be shared within the organisation. Interviews may also be used where agencies are looking to focus discussion. exit interviews and surveys should be easily accessible to all employees. aggregate data) and with whom (for example. experiencing unusual levels of turnover. policy and strategies. research suggests that response rates may be lower. recruitment and selection systems and procedures  reveal and link significant employee issues. job role etc. if a survey is too long. such as factors that engage employees – or influence their decision to leave the organisation.3 Other design considerations A combination of closed.Guide to developing exit interviews Surveys may be used for generic roles with average or unchanging levels of turnover. Research2 suggests that the average response rate for exit surveys is approximately 20 percent. Agencies may improve participation and response rates with a communication plan that helps employees understand the purpose of exit interviews. Corporate Executive Board. type and focus of questions in an exit interview or survey will depend on the agency’s specific interest.

A2990898 Guide to developing exit interviews UNCLASSIFIED Page 4 .5 Communication Participation and response rates may also be higher where employees expect an exit interview and understand the purpose and process involved.Guide to developing exit interviews 2. storage and use of information. but strongly encouraged • a brief outline of the process and timeframe • an indication of who will conduct the interview • confidentiality provisions in the collection. Accordingly. employee communication about the exit interview program should include: • the purpose of the process • information on employees who may participate in the process • advice that participation in the process is voluntary.

As illustrated by Figure 1. However. over the page. or outsourced to an external provider. exit surveys and interviews may be administered by a skilled and experienced person from another part of the agency.1 Administration Typically exit surveys and interviews are managed by an agency’s HR area. Agencies planning to administer exit interviews in-house should ensure all interviewers receive the necessary training and/or coaching to help make the interview more effective and a better experience for both the employee and the interviewer.2 Timing Interviews may be undertaken at any time after the employee notifies the agency of their intention to leave the organisation. Table 2 may assist agencies to decide on the most appropriate approach. A2990898 Guide to developing exit interviews UNCLASSIFIED Page 5 . 3. most interviews are undertaken during the last week of employment. Table 2: Benefits and risks of interviews and surveys being conducted by an in-house and external interviewer Benefits Risks In-house  Lower cost  Employee concern about lack of  Contextual and cultural understanding anonymity may constrain responses may enable more customisation during  Potential interpretational bias due to the interview corporate knowledge/understanding  Ability to link resulting analysis to organisational context External provider  Independent and not influenced by  May lack context or organisational organisational culture understanding  Likelihood of greater openness and  Potential interpretational bias due to a candour lack of corporate  Credibility (due to independence) knowledge/understanding  Ability to benchmark against other  Potentially higher cost organisations The ability to effectively capture information in exit interviews is crucial. Implementation 3 Implementation 3.

Table 3 identifies some of the benefits and pitfalls of each approach. Implementation Figure1: Exit interview timing3 Interviews may also be undertaken after an employee leaves the agency. Table 3: Timing of conducting exit interviews and the benefits and pitfalls of each Early Second or last day of employment After departure Benefits  Ability to address issue/s Likelihood of honest appraisal as Potential for more objective causing employee to leave there may be less concern over feedback as employees have reprisal for comments made time to reflect on their  Opportunity to send survey experience with the reminders and follow-upon organisation issues Pitfalls  Information may be less Participation rates may be lower  Participation rates decrease reliable if employees are due to competing demands during considerably the longer an disengaged during this time employees’ last days agency waits post employee departure.  Risk of reduced candour if  Former employees may not be there is concern that their contactable comments may be relayed to their manager 3 ibid Corporate Leadership Council (2003) A2990898 Guide to developing exit interviews UNCLASSIFIED Page 6 .

misalignment with the organisation’s employee value proposition. that is. provided to help the organisation make workplace improvements. As part of the process review agencies may consider the indicators of the process effectiveness. shifts in workplace trends  be reported as part of the organisation’s periodic dashboard report. on: . level of satisfaction with aspects of employees work experience. for example: . discrimination. A2990898 Guide to developing exit interviews UNCLASSIFIED Page 7 . or insight. main reasons for/factors contributing to employees’ decision to leave . such as. or provide insights. the level of detail. harassment and bullying  periodic reviews of the agency’s exit interview process. such as: job satisfaction. flexible work practices. what it says it offers employees . the People Matter Employee Survey . how the organisation might improve employees’ working experience . professional development opportunities . career progression. In addition to developing a plan for capturing and anlaysing information from exit interviews agencies should consider establishing a process for:  regularly reviewing and managing issues that arise from information provided.participation/response rate . Report and act on findings 4 Report and act on findings Exit interview reports may:  be aggregated at division or organisational level to maintain confidentiality  indicate. salary. level of correlation with other information sources. such as.