The Importance of Creating Exit Survey Expectations from Day One

To get meaningful responses that drive action, exiting employees should understand what to expect when they depart. Communication is key. Follow these three steps to manage everyone’s expectations.

Make the exit conversation a part of onboarding.

It might feel a bit awkward to discuss an employee’s potential departure as he or she begins a new job, but creating that understanding is crucial. If an outgoing employee receives a random survey email after submitting their two-week notice, they’re much more likely to ignore it or fill it out quickly without meaningful responses.

Let employees know right off the bat what a typical exit process looks like. While you hope the working relationship is long-lasting, you understand that life happens and they may leave at some point. Lay out some guidelines: Does the company expect a two-week notice? How will the departure be announced? Be open and honest with them. Explain that the exit survey is crucial to understanding the “why” of their departure and how feedback will be used to improve the organization.

Inform managers and/or department leaders of the survey and its timing.

Managers are critical to creating and maintaining engaging experiences for their team members. Don’t blindside them with information they didn’t know was being recorded. Let them know that exiting employees will be surveyed and that data will be used to drive future decisions. Let them know that HR is available to coach them one-on-one should results reveal a recurring problem on their team.

Don’t use the exit survey as a scare tactic. Explain that the results are important to making the company a more desirable place to work. If you feel comfortable, share the questions with them so they know exactly what employees are being asked.

Follow up on data.

There is no point to conducting exit surveys without a plan to act. Once you have a reasonable sample size, search for trends. Are employees leaving because of lesser pay? Lacking benefits? Issues with the manager?

Once issues are identified, create a plan to resolve them. If you’re going to retain talent, you have to plug the holes that are causing them to leave. The more directly you can address their pain points, the more likely they are to stay.