Knowing why an employee is leaving your company is not a “nice” to know, it is an “absolutely need” to know.

It’s difficult to watch talent walk out the door. It’s worse to not know why they’re leaving. By getting feedback from employees who are leaving your company, you can gain insights into four important areas:

  • Why are employees LEAVING?
  • How do we KEEP our talent?
  • How do we HIRE the right people?
  • How do we CREATE lifelong ambassadors?

Exit surveys, supported with the right people analytics, are a great way to gain these insights. However, in order to get actionable and constructive feedback, you need to start by asking the right questions. Questions that probe into their decision to leave, their experiences at the company, as well as their next steps.

Understanding human motivation is key to knowing why employees leave.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs illustrates the different levels of needs that impact employee engagement, from basic “survival” needs (bottom of the pyramid) to higher-level “self-actualization” needs (top of the pyramid). By understanding where there are gaps, you can make informed decisions about how to improve your people strategy. Here are 7 key questions you need in your exit survey. For a complete list of questions and a free question template scroll to the bottom.

Image Source Loyaltyworks

Q1. I had access to the tools and resources I needed to do my job well.

This question helps you understand whether you are fulfilling the basic needs of your employees (bottom layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).

Q2. My manager/supervisor supported me to be successful in my role.

It’s no secret that managers play a major role in engaging employees. Great managers provide the support their teams need to achieve exceptional performance. In Gallup’s 2015 study, they found that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. This question evaluates the impact your managers have on employee retention.

Q3. I had access to learning and development opportunities that allowed me to grow professionally.

Every company should strive to grow their employees towards the top of the pyramid: self-actualization. A key part of achieving this is to provide crucial learning opportunities to help support their professional growth.

Don’t Forget to Ask “Why”
For questions 1 to 3, use a rating scale ranging from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree to gather quantitative insights and to make it easier to discover trends. However, don’t forget to seek clarification by asking “Why” to get further qualitative feedback.

Q4. What are your top 2 reasons for leaving the Company?

Encourage employees to share the reasons why they’re leaving. This can range from lack of career opportunities or job insecurity, to long working hours or lengthy commute time. While there are many possible reasons, but the key insight comes when you start detecting common themes.

Q5. What were your top 2 reasons for joining the Company?

On the flip side, ask about why they initially decided to join your company. This helps you understand what attracts talent to your organization and provides insights to bolster your employer branding and talent acquisition strategy.

Offer some choices
For questions 4 and 5, offer some common choices to trigger their thinking. Always include an “Other” choice for them to enter their reason if none of the choices fit. This makes it easier for them to answer, and for you to analyze and identify common themes.

Q6. What role will you be moving to when you leave this Company?

Understand the types of opportunities your talent is moving on to. Are they leaving for a similar or different role elsewhere? Or are they heading into an entirely different career/field or possibly a more senior role?

Q7. I would recommend this Company as a great place to work.

Commonly known as the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), this question is answered on a scale of 0 to 10 and measures how willing employees are to recommending this company as a great place to work to their friends and acquaintances. You can use it discover the strength of your alumni/ambassador network. The real value comes when you ask the follow-up question of “why”:

  • What’s the one thing we do well that makes you willing to recommend us?
  • What’s the number one reason that’s holding you back from recommending us?

Exit Survey Analytics – Tips & Tricks

Asking the right questions in your exit survey is an important step, but it is only the first step. The next step is to dive into the analytics to look for trends, patterns, and common themes that will help you make better people decisions to answer the four key questions we discussed at the beginning.

We’ll be talking more about this in the upcoming article on exit survey analytics. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please send me an email.

Improve Employee Retention with an Intelligent Exit Survey
Get your free exit survey template here.