See How Turnover Drives Engagement and Retention
Handling Leavers: Walking the Plank or Let’s Just Kiss and Say Au Revoir?
Question: Why did (X) leave?
Response: Because he/she found a new job at (insert name of competitor here).
This is the wrong answer to a poorly phrased question. A lead vs lag indicator problem.
So, although you are already in an after the fact situation (the employee has already decided to leave), what your Off Boarding process should actually be finding out is:
1. Why did the leaver decide they do not want to work here anymore? (not where did they go, though we need to know that too), as well as,
2. What do they (the new employer) have that we don’t? and, most importantly,
3. Is there anything we should have done to retain him/her (assuming, of course, that we wanted to).
Tell Tale Signs Your Off – Boarding Processes Are Not Seaworthy:
1. “We have off boarding - look, here’s the check list”.
This list usually comprises nothing more than return of company property, system access authority removal, and other tedious, if necessary, housekeeping tasks. (“It’s probably all done on that snazzy new HRIS so it must be working”).
The exit survey form is just another chore in the Off Boarding task list…
2. “Our turnover is so high we don’t have time to conduct face to face exit interviews”.
This is a bit of a no brainer, to be honest: if you’re not finding out why people are leaving, you won’t know what to improve and turnover will spiral!
Exit interviews, when handled well, can offer up a harvestable and healthy crop of information. With nothing to lose by being forthright, leavers are often more honest in their feedback than current employees, so these one to one sessions can provide insights on everything from the company’s car parking policy through to confidence in company direction.
Handle with care though – effective exit interviews call for an open, trust based dialogue with exceptional listening and discretionary skills on the part of the interviewer.
The most valued insights are likely to be around relationships, particularly relations with the immediate supervisor.
In many Asian cultures, if people have been with an organization long enough (how long ‘enough’ is is another story), the relationship with the manager is always (always) a factor in a person’s decision to leave a company:
The exit interview feedback is often the only opportunity you will have to understand how staff genuinely feel about their managers.
However: do build a holistic set of metrics which you can apply to each line manager – exit interview findings are just one piece in the jigsaw.
3. “Good riddance to bad rubbish” comments about leavers.
· Don’t say ‘Good riddance’ about a leaver you have already agreed is a great contributor or a high potential! This devalues your talent management (TM) processes by calling into question whether any of the assessments you and your line managers have made about people are authentic.
Note to HR leaders: Don’t allow it! Instead, use the departure of key people to reinforce the importance of retention measures.
· And there’s no need to bad mouth those leavers you have already agreed were under- performing either – their departure is (hopefully) testament to the fact that your performance management processes are working!
Note to all: Maintain a dignified silence!
Finally, unless business reasons or other circumstances dictate otherwise, the leaver’s final days with you are an opportunity to express your appreciation for their service and wish them a bon voyage. They will leave with a quizzical smile on their face as they ask themselves whether they have made the right decision in leaving an organization that is so genuine about its people care that it even treats leavers this well.