Employee Exit Interview Surveys: Questions & 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.

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

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

What is an Exit Interview?

Most companies conduct exit interviews. Some actually do both interviews and a survey but interviews can be more personable while maybe surveys are easier to get feedback from.

Exit interviews are generally one to one interviews with employees leaving the company and a manager or higher up within the company. They are the formal goodbye for employees and give the opportunity for constructive feedback and criticism in the right way.

What Are The Primary Causes For Employees Leaving?

There can be lots of reasons for employees leaving their company.

Some build up over time or something might trigger action to be taken. Especially with new employees, attrition can be unexpectedly high. 

Here are some common reasons:

  • Employee dissatisfaction
  • Feeling un-recognized or not valued
  • Unexpected job responsibilities
  • Conflict with others
  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of opportunity within the organization
  • Less than ideal pay or benefits
  • Little to no work-life balance

There’s even more not on the list, but these are generally some common reasons that might cause an employee to look for a new job.

In order to reduce this type of employee churn, it’s important to know both why it happens and also what changes you can make to prevent it. It’s one of the reasons that employee exit interviews and surveys are so valuable.

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.

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.

Exit survey or interview by phone

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.

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. How would you describe your overall experience working for the company?
  2. Which of the following best describes why you chose to join the company?
  3. What was your primary reason for leaving the company?
  4. Was the workload and job expectations reasonable and manageable?
  5. How likely are you to recommend [Insert Company] as a place to work?
  6. Please explain why you rated [Insert Company] as [insert response] out of 10. Enter your response below.
  7. When you think about working at [Insert Company], what are the top 3 words that come to mind? Enter your responses below.
  8. How important are each of the following when selecting a job? (Career development, work engagement, relationship management, etc.)
  9. How would you rate your satisfaction with each of the following during your time with the company? (Career development, work engagement, relationship management, etc.)
  10. How does [insert company] compare to employment at other organizations? 
  11. What are the two best things about the company? 
  12. What are two things that need improving at the company?
  13. Do you have any final thoughts or comments?

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.

Take Action & Get The Best Insights Out Of Exit Surveys

With all of the data collected from exit surveys and interviews, you can create insights from the data. Common problems or themes may arise which can be noted. There might be an area that scores particularly low - which you should pay attention to.

Once you have some in-depth insights on the data, you’ll want to create a way to take action and use the insights/data to make changes within your organization to prevent any unwanted attrition from future employees.

It’s possible to involve current employees, hold focus groups, or survey possible changes within the company to see what current employees think about it and how it might reflect on new ones.

Either way, taking action and making changes with your data is how you can fix any issues or improve upon churn rates.

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 Director of Operations, 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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