Why exit interviews should be a central component of any talent retention strategy

A combination of rising energy costs, inflation and the cost of living crisis means that many organisations will have less capital to invest in recruitment – with 21% of UK businesses feeling cautious about hiring new employees or contractors in fear of a recession, resulting in hiring intentions falling 10% year- on-year. At the same time, employees are looking for improved renumeration to help manage the personal impact of the same economic factors. This is likely to lead to a disconnect between businesses and their workforces, with employers wanting to retain talent but lacking the financial capacity to raise salaries in line with what their employees are demanding.

Organisations then have to contend with increased attrition rates in the face of an ongoing talent shortage, as recent research found 75% of UK workers were looking for a new job last month, and that salary remained the top priority for over half of them. Therefore, it seems inevitable that most businesses will experience some exodus of talent as employees strive for greater financial stability.

But does this mean it’s safe to assume that all loss of talent can be attributed to these ongoing economic challenges – regrettable, but in some ways, inevitable? Not at all. If employees are regularly exiting a business, it would suggest that there may be deeper cultural issues within the organisation that need addressing.

The value of exit interviews

Cultural issues could range from a misalignment of core values between employer and employee, to a perceived lack of career progression opportunities, or a toxic workplace environment that is deterring individuals from wanting to remain within the business – all of which require close attention from leaders if they wish to retain talent and drive ongoing success.

Amba’s Generation Gap report found that 42% of employees feel their organisation doesn’t share their values, and that up to 58% of these workers are considering leaving their current employer in the next 12 months. But how can business leaders identify underlying problems within their culture if employees are exiting the organisation without an explanation?

A third-party exit interview process could be the answer. If there are cultural problems present within an organisation, employees may feel they have nobody to speak to or fear being reprimanded for ‘rocking the boat’. By providing guaranteed anonymity and a safe and secure environment when conducting exit interviews, a third-party provider is likely to benefit from employees’ willingness to speak candidly about their experience. They can have open and honest discussions that shed light on why employees are leaving, how they truly feel about the business and where they believe the organisation can improve.

These insights can then be used to help business leaders understand trends within their workforce and identify remedial actions to their cultural challenges. More informed decisions around which areas of the business require attention can be made, and initiatives focused on improving the culture, leadership and career development opportunities within the organisation can be implemented. All qualitative, quantitative and verbatim information acquired during the exit interview process can then be used to monitor the progress of newly deployed initiatives, to gauge whether they’re having a positive impact on the workforce or if they need further tweaks.

A top priority for any executive or senior leader is to ensure that a healthy working environment is available to all employees. And while refining the culture within a workplace can be challenging, especially if it’s been faulty for quite some time – it’s important to understand how implementing exit interviews as part of a wider talent retention strategy can make the task at-hand far more manageable.