Exit interviews are on my list of pointless tasks.
There are several reasons why I don’t really see the point of exit interviews, but the main one has to be what is done with the data. Or in my experience, what is not done with the data. Often, the output from such surveys or interviews amounts to one of those things that we look at briefly, maybe put into a fancy graph, and then stick in a drawer. I have come across few organisations that use the information to genuinely change things, to make decisions, to do something differently.
I’d also ask you this question. When did you last do an exit interview that really told you something that you didn’t already know? Something really surprising? Then cross reference that with the amount of time you spent collating the data in the first place. Most exit interviews give you very generic viewpoints. They most certainly do if you are going through a form, rather than having an open conversation. Unless you can get genuinely useful information, or are prepared to do something valuable with it, then the time might be better spent somewhere else.
I’d also argue that if you are listening hard enough to your employee voice, if you really understand your organisation and what people are thinking and feeling, then there should be no real surprises at all, in most exit interviews.
It’s a brave employee that uses their exit interview to raise genuine problems. Most people subscribe to the ‘if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all’ school of resignation. Just in case they ever want to come back. Just so they don’t jeopardise their reference. I can count on one hand the number of useful exit interviews I have undertaken in my entire HR career.
But, those that were useful, were seriously useful. And yes, they did lead to real change.
So my advice is this. Don’t waste your time running generic surveys that provide you with information no one reads or uses. Instead, make sure that your employees know that if they want to talk to you, if they want to raise something that HR really should know about, then the door is open for them to do this. In person. Face to face. Without just running them through a form and putting their views into a handy, generic, tick box.
Have real dialogue, or do something less boring instead.