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Exit interviews reveal why employees leave

As a specialist in  exit interviews, Insync finds that employees leave because of one of four things (known as “factors” in research terms).

1. Enrichment factors, i.e. “I’m not feeling the love”


  • Focuses on motivators that seek to enrich the work potential of employees
  • Includes achievement, recognition, skill development and advancement

Example: An employee may cite enrichment factors in their exit interview as reasons for leaving when they’re not experiencing personal success in their role. Their manager may not give them recognition, they may feel like they’re not developing new skills or they may think their career isn’t advancing.

Tip: Offering employees training and development opportunities is often a suggestion we make to our exit interview clients. An internal mentoring program may be an inexpensive development program that could boost employee engagement and their likelihood to stay.

2. Home life factors, i.e. “I want more time with my family”


  • Focuses on the amount of time given to work and non-work roles and the level of involvement across different aspects of one’s life
  • Includes work/life balance, family commitments, telecommuting and work flexibility

Example: Exit interviews can show that some people leave their employer so they fulfil commitments outside work, such as: caring for older parents, raising children and giving back to the community. An employee may feel they didn’t have work/life balance, couldn’t juggle family commitments or felt the organisation didn’t offer work flexibility.

Tip: After discovering this information in your exit interview process, you may decide to offer employees greater work life balance. With smart phones, almost universal broadband access, secure remote login to emails and to the organisations’ files, it can be fairly simple for many of our exit interview clients to offer more flexible work conditions. Often it’s just a change in mindset among your leaders. Allowing reduced hours for experienced employees can be a win-win, the employee can fulfil family commitments and the organisation still gets a big share of their skills, talents, networks and experience; without the employee having to resign.

3. Structural factors, i.e. “I’m not paid enough and the location is the pits”


  • Focuses on aspects of an organisation’s physical environment and equipment, resources and infrastructure
  • Includes salary, employment conditions, monetary rewards and job security

Example: An employee might name structural facts as reasons for departing in their exit interview. Structural factors can include salary, employment conditions, monetary rewards and job security.

Tip: Exit interviews might trigger some initiatives to make your organisation , or Employee Value Proposition (EVP), more appealing. A small token of appreciation, such as a gift/movie voucher, can go a long way in boosting employee engagement without costing the organisation too much. Other organisations offer employees a gym membership and encourage their staff to get out at lunch.

4. Interpersonal factors, i.e. “I hate my boss”


  • Focuses on employee relationships within an organisation and the need for respect, involvement and belonging
  • Includes interactions between employees and their direct supervisor, colleagues and senior management

Example: An exit interview can reveal the employee’s relationships within the organisation as an issue. Perhaps they didn’t feel respected, didn’t feel involved and/or didn’t feel they belonged. Often this can include the employee’s relationship with team mates, their direct supervisor and senior executives.

Tip: Many of our exit interview clients tackle interpersonal factors with some team building initiatives. By taking staff out of the office and reuniting them with your organisation’s mission, vision, values and strategic direction, together with some social activities off-site, some of your people might feel more positive and comfortable with each other. Other exit interview clients may discover a particular leader or supervisor requires some development to guide their behaviour or level of emotional intelligence with a 360 feedback program.

In summary, HR managers have a responsibility to encourage departing employees to open up with an exit interview process. Otherwise the opportunity to gather valuable employee engagement and retention knowledge to improve organisational performance is lost. It’s too easy to dismiss departing employees’ views and reasons for leaving with comments such as “I didn’t get to it in time”. HR and senior leaders must jump on the small remaining window before the employee leaves as an opportunity to conduct an exit interview. By working with Insync on your exit interview, we can make the process seamless, standardised, online and statistically valid.

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