Sanjeev.Himachali
Hr & Od Consultant
Rajat Joshi
Hr Consulting ,trainer -creative Thinking
Ryan
India's 1st Strategic Strengths Coach, Corporate
[email protected]
Hr Professional
[email protected]
Working As A Hr Manager
Abhilasha DEshmukh
Hr Representative

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Hi folks!!!!!!!

Of all the issues an HR professional is confronted with, is the nebulous issue pertaining to retention of employees.Many are my fellow HR professionals who are confronted by this issue and not clear as to how to respond and make a recommendation to their Management on how to tackle this issue.

Needless to mention ,recruitment is just the beginning of a long process that involves , once the employee comes on board,issues like motivation,growth,value addition and in the current context of knowledge worker "KNOWKER",employability .Try as they may,either due to paucity of clear cut strategy by companies towards making their employees "employable"or due to paucity of ideas on how to retain their employees, thru means other than Compensation ,managements of even so called "progressive"companies grope in the dark on how to come up with innovative ideas that would make their folks stay put.

It is in this context that one needs to look at exits and how exits ,while being painful in the short run,can give a wealth of information to the company, to device in the long run, strategies that can retain their most critical resources,the "KNOWKERS".

Exits are inevitable.This is a reality that we all need to comprehend.Whether the exit is due to a cultural misfit,poor performance,downsizing or right sizing is all a matter of detailing.Fact of the matter is that ,even in the current context of global recession ,when the popular and shortsighted notion is that there are no jobs going even if your employees are to look outside your company for a job,statistics prove that companies have lost maximum number of employees during this period.What we as HR professionals have to learn is that irrespective of the times,rare are the cases were employees have stayed put in a job that gives him\her no joy,they would rather take a plunge into the unknown than stay put in a job that gives him\her, no future value.

How have companies tackled this phenomenon?How do they learn their "lessons",so that the faults are not repeated with other employees and corrective action can be taken to improve the situation?This is where a stuctured intervention like EXIT interview comes into play.

Exit interview as a means to collate data on the exiting employees have been done by many companies.But more often than not, companies go thru with this as a matter of routine that has to be complied with and the data that emerges out of this exercise is seldom analysed.It is the analysis of the data that emerges out of this exercise, as well as the process of the exit interview adopted by companies ,that would determine whether the data is any good to go by and formulate strategies on employee retention.

FIRST THINGS FIRST.Is Exit interview required at all?Well the answer is a resounding YES, from all practitioners of this process, in a scientific manner.

The methodology differs from company to company, depending upon the specific cultures of these companies. Some companies let the department head of the exiting employee, do the exit interview, whereas in some companies it is only the HR department that does the exit interview and a third sort of company where it is a mixture of line and HR that does the exit interview.Be that as it may,the question that needs to be answered is whether the process is being gone thru, because it is a requirement for the settlement of the final dues of the employee and hence is yet another compliance which will have to be gone thru or is it a serious exercise meant to elicit from the departing employee the reasons for his departure and what needs to be done from the companies point of view as a corrective so that such sort of departures are minimised.

As I recently had a chance to listen to a CEO, who said "I do not mind if the employee is leaving for the right reasons, but let no employee from my business leave for the wrong reasons".The right reasons, according to this CEO, are reasons were the Company canít possibly help out eg spouse employed in another city,family or personal reasons(which has nothing to do with the job or the company),requirement to move to another function or job,which is non existent in the current company etc.The wrong reasons are reasons like inability to get along with the team,morale,motivation etc which is upto the company to provide. ,which knows the pulse of its employees.

EXIT INTERVIEW FOR ALL?This is a question which has been asked frequently since the last one year or so.The logic of this question emerges from the fact that in the last one year or so,due to the economic slow down and the recession,companies had to go thru with the painful task of reducing their manpower by reducing the number of employees who according to the company were engaged in non value adding functions or activities.The question was ,since exit interview is there as a process ,should not these employees too go thru with the process of having to undergo the exit interview.Well the answer is NO.Exit interview as a process is institutionalised to capture data on employees who are leaving us and whom we would like to retain and not to gather data and information on employees leaving the company because in any case the company does not want to retain that particular employee.Imagine a situation of a company that has done VRS for its staff and if all the VRSed employees were to undergo the Exit interview?The views of the VRSed employees can only be imagined!!!But more importantly,to answer the question of whether Exit Interview as a process needs to be done for all exiting employees,the answer is NO.

WHAT EXIT INTERVIEW METHODOLOGY TO EMPLOY ?Different companies employ different processes and procedures to capture the data emerging out of an exit.Some companies employ the interview methodology and the interviewer jots down the highlights of the exiting employees tenure with the company ,both the positives and the negatives.Some companies employ the questionnaire cum interview methodology,were the exiting employee fills in a standard questionnaire on the reasons for his exit,which is routed thru his supervisors to the HR department,to note the contents and take corrective action and this is supplemented by the interview with the exiting employee to clarify the points raised by him in the EXIT Questionnaire,so that it gives an input to the company on the areas to focus on, due to which this particular employee is leaving.And there are companies that employ only the Questionnaire methodology to capture the data.The last mentioned methodology is the least preferred since experience has shown that the exiting employee might jot down views which are extremes because of his status as a "departure" candidate and the company would have little means to ascertain the veracity of what has been stated by the exitee.What is ideally recommended is the questionnaire cum interview methodology,because of its inherent strengths as a database for corrective action and moreover the points raised by the exitee, would be substantiated by the interviewer during the interview process.

WHAT DATA TO LOOK FOR AND WHAT ANALYSIS ? Whatever be the methodology adopted by the company ,the data sought for should be consistent.The companies should look for information and data from the exitees, that would throw light on the good practices of the company as well as those practices which needs improvement and which has resulted in the employee taking a decision to exit from the company.This would give an input to the company on what they are doing right which needs to be reinforced and celebrated and what is being done poorly,which needs to be improved and done differently.The changes that needs to be brought about should be as a fall out of the data that emerges out of this input.

The data that emerges should be collated and analysed to study patterns and reasons for exiting.The data analysis is very critical and should be done sensitively and carefully ,otherwise the reasons that emerge out of this analysis might not give a correct direction for the company to focus and correct what needs to be corrected as emerging out of the exit interview process.Thus it is critical that the analysis be done once in six months so that ,a trend and a pattern can be ascertained from out of the data that emerges.It is equally critical that various cuts of the data be evaluated on the basis of Qualification,age,experience,department ,business etc since this data would help the company in focussing on issues impacting the various subgroups in the company.The reason why a management trainee you hire from a premier campus is leaving you in six months, could be quite different from why an employee with more than ten years of service in the company is leaving.Similarly the reason why a management trainee from the Marketing department is leaving and the reason why a management trainee, from the same business school, but assigned to the finance department is leaving, could be quite different.In fact data collation is only the beginning of the task, the real skill and challenge lies in data interpretation and analysis.The seriousness of this needs no emphasis ,since the action plan for the company to retain employees on the basis of employees exiting,is dependent on this data analysis.

In these times which are dynamic to say the least,if there can be one "listening post" for the company to hear the "grouses"of employees whom the company would have ideally liked to retain,then the only structured way of capturing the data is thru an institutionalised EXIT interview process.

LOL

NEHA BARMAN

From India, Pune
Hi Neha,

Welcome to Citehr! :)

This is an excellent post on retention strategy through the exit interviews.

Have a couple of points -

1. You have rightly pointed which was commented by your CEO that the exit interviews for wrong reasons needs to be looked carefully to understand the why it is happening. Sadly, the way exit interviews are held how often does one come across the people who are leaving for the wrong reasons actually say so..most of them give the right reasons. :( Therefore it is not easy task.

2. It would be better that the exit interviews are conducted after the period of two months when the employee is settled in new job - in which case he would most of the times give correct reasons as why he had to leave the company.

3. It is a challenge for HR professionals to be pro-active to identify the section of talented professionals who are fishing for opportunties by pre-empt measures or by being the part of the dynamics of the Business which sadly doesn't happen.

4. Have a clear cut strategy for the talented professionals like a code book as how Management should deal with them as and when the situation arises. Like HOD should drop everything literally when the key employee puts up the resignation letter and deal with the situation effectively.

Good show on your part of your understanding of the subject despite being a student and your recent exposure to Industry during your internship.

Keep it up!

Have a great day.

Regards,

Rajat Joshi

From India, Pune
Hello Neha...
Thanks for your insight.
For me the purpose of Exit Interviews and its effectiveness is that no two people should leave the organization for the same reason.
Secondly, in good companies we do have "Employee Relations" team whose job profile is to listen to employees, motivate them and solve their queries.
As for as your point is concerned that the management don't listen to the suggestions...I must tell you that it is very important to make a proper presentation. You sent across your suggestions...that's OK, but if I am in Management, I would surely like to know the cost factor; I would also like to know that what will be the impact of your suggestion...by what % I will be able to retain the employees. These are the things...managemnt like to know and understand. Everybody get ideas...but what will be the impact of your idea...that is important.
Regards
Sanjeev Sharma
(Blog: http://sanjeevhimachali.blogspot.com/)

From India, Mumbai
Hi Neha,
This was a very good post on retention strategy through exit interviews. in most companies the exit interview process is only used for data collection and definately if used in an effectice manner it can be a very huge retention tool.
Thank you.
Regards,
Abhilasha.


HAI,
FIRST OF ALL EXIT INTERVIEW IS TO KNOW FROM EMPLOYEES ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE AND DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES OF THE COMPANY AND WHETHER THEY ARE ADEQUATE OR NEEDS ANY IMPROVEMENT. ONLY TO IMPROVE,CHANGE THE COMPANY POLICY, WORKING CONDITIONS, ETC WE ARE CONDUCTING EXIT INTERVIEWS.
IF THERE IS A MORE LABOUR TURNOVER PLEASE CHECK UP
1. IS THERE ANY PROBLEMATIC SUPERVISORS/MANAGERS?
2. WHETHER THE WORKING CONDITIONS ARE GOOD. BAD, UNCONFORTABLE FOR EMPLOYEES, ETC., (SOME COMPANIES THEY DON'T HAVE EVEN SUFFICIENT CHAIRS TO SIT)
3. IS THERE ANY COMPANY POLICY NEED TO BE CHANGED? CHECK OUT THROUGH EXIT INTERVIEW?
4. IS YOUR COMPANY HAVE CARRER AND SUCCESSION PLANNING?
5. BENCHMARK THE SALARY, INCENTIVE SCHEME & OTHER PERKS LEVELS WITH THE SAME INDUSTRY ELSE GATHER THE DATA AND DISSCUSS WITH YOUR BOSS.
6. MAKE THE EXIT INTERVIEW FORM THAT CONTAINS ALL THE REQUIRED DATA?
THE ABOVE 6 POINTS ARE THE IMPORTANT AND KEY POINTS WHICH AFFECTS THE EMPLOYEE. CHECKOUT

From India
Neha,
There is a clarity in your thought process and you have presented the article well. As rightly mentained by Sanjeev, managemnts is always looking for the % impact by your suggestions for retention.
Analysing the exit data well and then work towards retention is what really going to help and in one of the replies I did mention to one of the forum members that Exit Interview is an art and it should be conducted by a mature HR person who himslef is empathic and posseses good listening and analytical skills .
Cordially,
preet

From India, Bangalore
This is a superb article on the need for exit interviews.
However, I have a slight disagreement with Sanjeev's statment that it is the employee relations team's job to listen to employees and solve their problems.
I personally think that the line manager is first responsible for providing a listening ear to the employee and thereafter, if no appropriate response is made available, then it should be escalated to the HR/Employee Relations team. Ideally, this should first be done by the manager rather than the employee.
Looking at it from a research point of view (Gallup), "Employees leave bosses, not organizations". It becomes imperative that the line manager be made responsible for attrition, rather than it being a KRA of the HR team.
Any views?
Regards
Ryan[/quote]

From India, Mumbai
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