Employee Experience

Learning from leavers – making exit processes work for your organisation

2 Mins read

Over the last two months, we’ve been finding out how organisations engage with learning from leavers. Our research suggests that many are failing to take full advantage of this valuable opportunity to learning from leavers.  

With thoughtful design and consistent execution, you can make every leaver a good leaver.  By using their feedback, you can improve your retention, build your brand and manage your risk.  This year we’ve seen several high-profile examples of organisations that should have paid more attention to leavers’ experiences.

Here are the headlines. 

Make it strategic

Organisations that make the connection between the leaver experience and market reputation invest in their approach. By identifying leaving patterns – a disproportionate number of leavers from particular teams or with a common profile – you can act to identify and address the underlying causes. If leavers feel able to speak openly, they can help surface issues that remaining employees are reluctant to voice. 

Bring in the employee perspective

Only 2 in 5 respondents thought their exit process encouraged employees to be open and honest. Research suggests that reasons for holding back include not knowing what will be done with the data. Other reasons are loyalty to colleagues, or a fear of burning bridges. If you genuinely want to hear from leavers about their experiences, provide employees with more context and engage them in designing your approach.

Gather useful data

Organisations that used both surveys and interviews to collect data were generally more positive about their approach than those that only used one or the other.  Be clear about the data you need and think about how you are going to convert it to a format that makes it easy to analyse.  This is especially important in the case of interview notes: an unstructured conversation can provide insights, but only if those insights are integrated into a system so that themes can be extracted.

learning from leavers 2

See the full picture

Only 1 in 4 respondents were confident that reports on exit data were available. Interviews revealed that there was little integration with other employee surveys, on key topics such as:

  • relationship with line manager or
  • feeling of inclusion there was no way to compare the sentiment of leavers with those who remained. 

When it comes to interview notes, ensuring that insights from unstructured conversations make their way back into a system is particularly important for drawing out themes.

Show visible commitment

While organisations usually share employee survey results widely and commit to actions, they are less transparent with leaver feedback.  If, during your time working for an organisation, you have never seen any reports on or responses to leaver feedback, when you are in the leaver seat, are you going to take it seriously?  The research suggests that cynicism is a factor in half-hearted participation. 

Further Reading

The McNamara Fallacy in Business: a Complete Guide
Understanding Trompenaars Cultural Dimensions – A Complete Guide
Understanding The CAGE Framework – Tips, Tricks & Best Practices

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