What About HR’s Role in Exit Interviewing?

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Some managers may ask, ‘‘What about the human resources department—

isn’t it their responsibility to do the exit interviews, analyze the data, and

report on the reasons employees leave? Traditionally, these certainly have

been the responsibilities of HR departments.

However, available evidence suggests that in most organizations, HR

departments and senior leaders are not providing the kind of meaningful

data managers need about the root causes of employee turnover. A comprehensive

Saratoga Institute study found that although 95 percent of organizations

say they conduct exit interviews, only 32 percent report the data to

managers, and only 30 percent follow up with some kind of action. Fortytwo

percent of HR departments surveyed admitted that their exit interview

programs were not effective.13

To make sure that post-exit interviews or surveys are done and done

effectively, HR professionals can play an important role by reporting findings

to management, and by partnering with all managers to provide

needed resources to assure that corrective actions are taken. For detailed

guidelines on exit interviewing, see Appendix B.

What must not happen is for line managers to foist off on HR their

own responsibility for keeping and engaging valued talent. HR is their

partner in this process, but not the accountable party. The key is for the

entire organization, beginning with the senior management team, to adopt

a new mindset about managing all talent.

We have seen that the old mindset results in superficial understanding

of employee turnover, leading to spiraling wage wars, and borrowing other

companies’ practices—usually tangible, but off-target quick fixes—which

may not be the right aspirin required for the kind of headache the next war

for talent will bring.