Best Time to Reach Out to Exiting Employees

Employee turnover. It’s one of those things nobody wants to talk about but says so much about the overall health of your organization. Tracking how many employees leave and are replaced within a given period of time is important for a number of reasons. It’s true that not all turnover is bad, though it might seem that way at the time, you have to understand why employees are leaving and what you can do to help reduce it in order to manage turnover effectively.

When voluntary turnover is an increasing trend within your company (and preferably before it becomes a trend), it’s necessary to know the driving forces behind the decision to leave. Without this information, it’s nearly impossible to make needed changes in employee engagement and reduce future turnover. There are a number of ways to get this information, but by far the most effective is with targeted confidential employee exit surveys. These surveys allow organizations to identify the true reason someone has left and to understand what aspects of the organization can be improved to help mitigate it in the future.

But, it’s not enough to just have exit surveys in place. The true key is in knowing when to have an exiting employee complete the survey.

The Right Time to Dig Into the “Goodbye”

Timing of an exit survey is just as important as the questions asked within. If you conduct the survey too early, you may miss out on information regarding the final weeks or months of employment. Within those final weeks or months maybe golden nuggets of information that could help your organization improve vastly moving forward. However, if you give the survey too late, employees may forget important details, be less likely to complete the survey at all, or maybe be too deep in their new job to answer the questions with the impartiality needed to garner useful insights.

Having been in the business of employee engagement and retention for many years, we’ve found that the optimal time frame in which to conduct an exit survey is within a one-month window that starts two weeks prior to leaving and ends two weeks after the employee is out the doors. This specific time frame allows us to hit a high participation rate while still gathering objective data that can be turned into meaningful action.

Why This Time Frame?

By looking at 16 clients from different industries and comparing participation rates based on when the employee was asked to complete their survey, we came upon this “optimal time frame.” Overall, pending terms (those that were asked to complete the survey prior to their termination date) had a larger participation rate of 64% whereas those who received the survey after they left participated at a rate of 44%. The majority of survey completes (62%) happened before the employee left or within the first 30 days after leaving. Of those, 10% came from pending terms and 26% were completed within 14 days of their termination date. After 14 days, there was a steady decrease in participation rates.

All that is to say, serving up the survey within the optimal time frame gives you a much better shot at improving your organization. Employee turnover impacts every business, but how you work to understand and improve turnover is the key that can set your organization apart. An exit survey is a powerful tool to gather data at a crucial point in the employee life cycle and help provide awareness to the real reasons employees leave.

Want an expert partner in understanding and creating action from the insights exit surveys provide? Contact us to learn more.

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