1. Inform your people
Given the sensitive nature of this type of survey (both in terms of content and the context that triggers them), you should not catch your employees by surprise. And letting your soon-to-be former employees know that you’ll send out an exit survey (and possibly schedule an exit interview or two) is not enough. As improving your organization is one of the primary goals of running exit surveys (and taking action), your people should know about this process from the get-go.
Consider announcing the new type of survey in your company’s all-hands meeting or team standup. Then, send out an email or Slack message with more details on the purpose of employee exit surveys and the processes involved. It would be even better to include this in your company’s employee handbook or other documentation accessible to all.
Once these surveys have become part of your company culture, make sure that new joiners are also aware of exit surveys. If your organization values transparency, all offboarding steps should be part of your onboarding documentation. Also, you’ll be communicating that you care about their thoughts and continuously improving as an employer.
Knowing that well-thought exit surveys and actions for development are part of your company’s DNA will motivate more people to complete their exit surveys. And remember: How you offboard someone is the only shot you have to turn your former team member into an advocate.
2. Choose your survey’s questions
This is likely the trickiest part of setting up this type of survey. But as always, we’ve got your back! Download our free pack with best-practice questions to choose from for employee exit surveys.
Things to consider when choosing questions:
- Standardize questions and don’t change them unless you have a good reason to. Otherwise, you won’t benefit from the insights gained from aggregate data.
- Always keep your organization in mind. What’s the style of your organization? What kind of communication do you have with your people? The questions you choose should reflect your company’s voice.
- What are your company’s core values and can you build questions around them? If, for instance, your company values teamwork above all else, give special consideration to teamwork-related questions.
- Questions must be specific enough to allow for data comparison. Make sure to cover different areas like the role, compensation, management, team, culture, learning and development, etc.
Key topics to approach in an employee exit survey are:
- The role
- Career progression & opportunities
- Learning & development
- Compensation package
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion
3. Define a timeline
With an advanced people management platform with survey capabilities, you can automate employee exit surveys to be sent X days before their last day at the job.
To create the ideal timeline for your company, consider the following:
- Will you conduct exit interviews? Ideally, people should have enough time to decompress between answering their exit survey and having their exit interviews. Even for voluntary turnover, these processes can cause some anxiety.
- It’s not a good idea to send this to someone right after they quit — after all, this can be an emotionally charged time.
- Propose a reasonable deadline when sending out a survey. Don’t expect respondents to complete it the day they receive it (or even the day after). Chances are, your soon-to-be former employee has a lot on their plate with tasks handover or even training their replacement.
4. Send out reminders to increase participation
Don’t be forceful, and remember that you (and not the respondent) have the most to gain from exit surveys. Be appreciative of their contribution and send a few friendly reminders via email, chat, or your survey tool.
Follow-up best practices for running an employee exit survey
Schedule exit interviews
This is a great chance to dive deeper into topics that were already relevant, but not a good fit for the survey’s standard questions.
Decide who should conduct this interview (i.e., someone from People Ops/HR or the person’s soon-to-be former manager) and be mindful of your employee’s privacy. Don’t put them in a difficult situation. For instance, if someone reveals that the reason they left was a bad relationship with their manager, don’t tell this to the manager before their interview. There are other ways you can share feedback with a manager and support them in improving without compromising someone’s trust.
(Continuously) dig into the data
As more people respond to your company’s exit survey, you’ll have more consolidated data that might help you spot trends that weren’t so clear before. Working with exit survey data to improve the employee experience and increase employee retention is not a one-time thing.
Implementing a survey that doesn’t spark change is just lip service and not a good employer branding idea. Whether you’re running engagement surveys, pulse surveys, diversity surveys, or exit surveys (hopefully, you’ll run all of those!), you’re not collecting data just to have fancy graphs.
Consider scheduling recurring meetings with other stakeholders — these can be C-level executives, founders, people ops colleagues, or other people interested in supporting these initiatives. Have a clear agenda, share positives and negatives from exit survey data, and brainstorm solutions and changes.
And don’t try to focus on multiple topics at once. Work on a few areas for improvement at a time, starting with the most critical. Usually, those will be issues pertaining to the lowest scores or most negative sentiment analysis.
As an example, you might find out that many people left because of a lack of career opportunities and progression. Here, focus on creating development frameworks for your company’s various departments, with transparent information and average timelines to achieve the next level.
Keep your people in the loop
Transparent communication drives engagement, and that includes sharing the good and the bad. Although sharing the results of every meeting and discussion on exit survey analysis would likely be tiring for all, consider sharing a roundup with trends and, most importantly, initiatives and results of these actions. You can do this in an all-hands meeting, or you can share a simple presentation with simple graphs and key points with your people, making it clear that you’re happy to answer questions that may arise.
— Would you like to explore surveys to their full potential? Make sure to check out our other step-by-step playbooks on how to create and run different types of employee survey (as well as how to turn them into action). And don’t forget to download your free pack of employee exit survey questions. 💡