Employee Exit Surveys: Sample Questions, Types, & Benefits

employee handing boss a resignation letter

Employee turnover can be a significant pain point. With staff turnover reaching 57%, it is seemingly a costly and disruptive issue for businesses everywhere.

While some degree of turnover is inevitable, companies can take steps to minimize it by understanding why employees leave and addressing any underlying issues.

One effective tool for gaining insights into staff departures is employee exit surveys.

In this blog post, our market research company explores the benefits of conducting exit surveys, the different approaches to administering them, and provide some sample questions to include in your survey.

By the end, you will have a better understanding of how to use exit surveys to reduce employee attrition and improve your organization's overall performance.

Article Contents 

Interested in conducting employee exit surveys with a third party? Contact Drive Research by filling out an online form or emailing [email protected].

What is an Employee Exit Survey?

An employee exit survey is a questionnaire given to an employee who is leaving a company or organization. The post employment survey is designed to gather feedback from the departing employee about their experience working for the organization.

Employee exit surveys most commonly ask questions about...

  • The reasons for leaving
  • The employee's overall experience
  • The quality of management
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Work-life balance
  • Other relevant aspects of the workplace

The primary purpose of an exit survey is to gain insights into why employees leave an organization, which can help the company to identify areas for improvement and make changes to increase employee retention

A staff exit survey can be conducted either internally or externally with an employee survey company

Why Do Companies Conduct Employee Exit Surveys?

As part of employee market research, exit surveys are a great way to understand areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Companies may choose to conduct exit surveys for all departing employees, or for certain groups of employees, such as those in specific departments or at certain levels of the organization.

Here are a few reasons why companies conduct employee exit surveys.

1. Make better internal decisions

Exit surveys can help organizations better understand strengths and weaknesses regarding their employee experience. 

In fact, the data gathered through exit surveys can be analyzed to understand trends, similarities/differences among departments/supervisors, and more.

Ultimately the data should be used to boost employee engagement and formulate organizational strategies for promoting work-life balance.

2. Learn ways to mitigate expensive turnover

Research shows staff turnover affects customer satisfaction, employee motivation, and employee morale.

And it's costly. In fact, employees lost due to turnover can cost 1.5 to 2 times as much as the lost employee’s salary to replace them.

Therefore, learning strengths and weaknesses through employee exit surveys can help leaders and managers better understand how to improve the employee experience.

Understanding why employees look for a new job will help mitigate common concerns among current employees.

3. Maintain relationships

Consider ways employee exit surveys help organizations maintain relationships. 

For example, by demonstrating that the organization values the opinions of departing employees, organizations can help ensure that these employees remain positive about their experience with the organization.

Taking the initiative and showing employees you care about their experience and well-being is an important step organizations can take to improve overall morale. 

4. Benchmarking

Also, consider ways to bring data to life and provide additional context by using benchmarks.

Employee survey benchmarks may include previous data from the same organization or compare the organization’s data to similar organizations (i.e., industry, company size, region).

By comparing the results of exit surveys over time or against industry benchmarks, organizations can identify trends and measure the effectiveness of their retention strategies.

Recommended Reading: How to Use Employee Survey Benchmarks

Survey Options for Employee Exit Interviews

There are a few different types of market research to gather feedback from team members who have left or as they are on their way out including:

  • Online surveys
  • Phone surveys
  • In-person interviews
  • Video web interviews

In each of the following approaches, a market research company will either draft a questionnaire or interview guide using best practices to engage participants and reduce bias effectively.

Why an online employee exit survey?

An online survey is usually the most cost-effective market research methodology.

They are a great way to gather feedback from employees who choose to take a new position at a different company.

The one caveat with choosing an online survey is that participation is more passive and there is less of an opportunity to ask pointed follow-up questions.

Why a phone employee exit survey?

A phone survey is similar to an online survey but has some room to ask pointed follow-up employee exit survey questions.

For instance, a research interviewer can ask previous staff members to expand on their answers if little insight is given or they do not understand their answers.

Why an in-person or video employee exit interview?

Lastly, an in-person or video interview has the most potential to gather in-depth feedback for departing employees.

This approach allows researchers to explore the answers given rather than just measure them with data and numbers.

It also allows for interviewers to pick up on body language. 

How to Ask Employees to Complete an Exit Survey

Let departing employees know that you value their feedback and want to understand their reasons for leaving.

Explain that the information gathered from the survey will be used to improve the organization and the working conditions for future employees.

It is always best to be transparent in these types of situations. 

Below is the process our employee engagement survey company follows for further context.

1. Kickoff

The first step of an online employee exit survey project is the kickoff. This meeting typically lasts 30 to 60 minutes and includes the research team and client team.

The goals of the meeting are to understand the goals/objectives of the survey, how the results will be used, how the process works/timeline, finer details about the project, and the next steps. 

2. Writing & programming the employee exit survey

After the kickoff is complete, the team will begin drafting the survey. Depending on the survey length, this process may take ~2 days to 1 week to complete.

Throughout the survey drafting process, the team will work with the client to ensure the survey meets the intended objectives as discussed in the kickoff meeting.

After the survey is signed off on and considered final, the research team will begin programming and testing the survey.

This process typically takes ~3 to 5 days, depending on the survey length. 

3. Fieldwork

Once the survey has been thoroughly tested, fieldwork will begin. Fieldwork for online employee exit surveys is typically conducted on an ongoing basis.

This means invites are sent depending on the turnover rate, so employees are surveyed at the right moment.

Our employee exit survey company recommends sending the survey to be completed shortly before the employee's last day or on their last day to ensure that their experience is fresh in their minds.

4. Analysis and reporting

The cadence for reporting will be unique for each organization. Some may have a bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly reporting schedule.

It all depends on the amount of data and the reporting needs. 

Additionally, after the employee has completed the survey, remember to thank them for their feedback and offer the opportunity for further discussion if they are interested in sharing more information.

5. Debrief meeting

After the report is sent, the teams can gather to discuss the results. These meetings usually last ~45 to 60 minutes.

The goal of this meeting is to walk through the results, answer any questions, and make additional recommendations/updates as needed.

Example Employee Exit Survey Questions

Common employee exit survey question topics center around career development, work engagement, relationship management, compensation and benefits, and overall work environment.

Here are a few examples of employee exit survey questions:

  1. What was your primary reason for leaving the company?
  2. How would you describe your overall experience working for the company?
  3. Was the workload and job expectations reasonable and manageable?
  4. How likely are you to recommend [Insert Company] as a place to work?
  5. Please explain why you rated [Insert Company] as [insert response] out of 10. Enter your response below.
  6. When you think about working at [Insert Company], what are the top 3 words that come to mind? Enter your responses below.
  7. How does [insert company] compare to employment at other organizations? 

These are just a few examples of employee exit survey questions that can help organizations gather feedback from departing employees.

Though, when working with an employee survey company like Drive Research, each survey can be customized to your unique needs and objectives.

Value of Hiring a Post Employment Survey Company

To truly reap employee exit survey benefits, it is important to gather feedback using a third party for employee surveys.

Hiring an employee exit survey company can provide significant value to your organization such as:

1. Reduced bias

When choosing to outsource employee exit surveys, feedback can be gathered to minimize the perceived risk of giving honest, candid feedback. 

For example, if an employee truly dislikes working for the company, it’s unlikely they will be completely honest with a human resources representative when leaving the organization.

In their minds, it is important to leave on a good note if they ever need a recommendation down the road. Additionally, the market research firm also diminishes bias when reporting on the data.

By using a third-party lens, an employee survey company can cut through the main types of bias in market research.

This typically comes from analyzing feedback about employees with whom an HR representative would have a working relationship.

2. Earn more quality data

With the right third-party team, you’re not just given data–you’re told the best steps to take going forward.

Say there’s a common issue that comes up with your exit surveys. A solid third-party firm will tell you what to do about it, not just what the issue is. 

Plus, imagine this. You’re a less-than-satisfied employee leaving your job.

You see a survey invite from your company pop up in your email inbox. Are you really inclined to answer it? Probably not. 

As we mentioned earlier, employees will typically feel more comfortable answering survey questions from a third party instead of their own company.

This allows for the utmost transparency and the best data. 

3. Save time and resources

Outsourcing the exit survey process to a specialized company can save your organization time and resources, as they will have the expertise and technology necessary to efficiently and effectively conduct the surveys and analyze the data.

This allows your HR team to focus on other important tasks, such as recruiting and onboarding new employees.

4. More than a self-service platform

Sure, self-service may sound handy, but it’s not the way to go if you want an in-depth research experience. 

More often than not, the client ends up having to work with the feedback by themselves and is handed banked survey questions.

Not only does this not yield customized data, but it can also be a clunky and confusing process. 

When you work with a company like ours, you’ll get a personalized research experience. We do the hard stuff and will leave you with clear, actionable data.

5. Customized employee exit survey questions

It's important to have customized employee exit survey questions because every organization is unique, with its own culture, values, and challenges.

Pre-made, generic exit survey questions may not capture the specific concerns and issues that are relevant to a particular organization.

Instead of just asking basic questions about an employee’s overall experience, you can tailor them based on the outcomes you want to see.

By doing so, the survey can better reflect the organization's priorities and values and can be more effective in identifying and addressing issues that may be contributing to employee turnover.

Final Thoughts

Employee exit surveys can provide valuable insights into the reasons why employees leave an organization.

By understanding these reasons, employers can take steps to address issues and improve employee retention, which can ultimately lead to increased productivity, morale, and profitability.

In addition, employers should be prepared to act on the feedback they receive from exit surveys.

If employees consistently report issues with communication, for example, the organization should develop a plan to improve communication practices. 

Overall, employee exit surveys can be a valuable tool for any organization that wants to improve workplace culture for better long-term employment. 

Contact Our Employee Exit Survey Company

Drive Research is a full-service market research company, specializing in Voice of Employee research such as employee exit surveys. Our market research team partners with organizations of varying sizes and industries throughout the United States.

Interested in partnering with our team? Contact us today to receive a custom proposal for your employee exit survey.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Research Manager, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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