Employers ‘missing out’ as more than half of UK employees do not get an exit interview, survey finds

Report says firms are risking negative online reviews and losing the chance to retain skilled workers

More than half (55 per cent) of UK employees who resigned from their last job post were not invited to a formal leaving interview, a new study has revealed.

The survey by Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group, of 1,500 people who have resigned in the last five years, found that one third of employees were not asked for feedback.

The survey report called it a “missed opportunity for valuable employee engagement”. 

Instead, with the rise of public review platforms such as Glassdoor and Comparably, which 69 per cent of survey respondents had used to critique a previous employment, “organisations risk employee comments being posted online”, according to the report. 

It added: “With over half of these reviews holding negative sentiment, by skipping the process of an exit interview employers are missing the chance to resolve the issues and concerns of their workforce internally.”

In addition, the study discovered that the majority of participants would have felt comfortable enough to discuss their views with their employer if requested. 

“There’s a clear disconnect between why employers think their employees are leaving and the actual reason behind employee exits,” said Áine Fanning, managing director at Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group. 

She said that more than a quarter of ex-employees believed their input would have no impact on their workplace. 

She said that if businesses make a “concerted effort to better understand why employees are leaving and take meaningful action to retain them, they could gain an edge in the race to attract, develop and retain the talent they need.

“Organisations should consider the exit process not only as a valuable chance to gain employee feedback but also an opportunity to retain talent,” Fanning said, with more than half revealing they would have considered a counter offering during the process of exiting their previous role.  

According to David Collings, chair of sustainable business at the Trinity Business School, his experience reveals that the process in many organisations is relatively underdeveloped.

“The reality is that once it gets to the point where an individual has handed in their notice the chances of retaining them are limited,” he said. 

He added that the decision to leave is rarely “solely tied to reward” and that if the other aspects of the job do not stack up, a counter offer is unlikely to be enough to keep someone on board. 

However, he said there is “increasing recognition of the value of investing in a positive off-boarding experience”.

Collings said many alumni remain positive advocates for their former employers and that the research shows if they work for organisations other than direct competitors, they can add value in a variety of ways.

He also said that off-boarding should be “considerably more thoughtful than a formal exit interview,” with line managers ensuring that the person leaves on good terms wherever possible. 

Liz Sebag-Montefiore director and founder of 10Eighty, said: “I can’t understand why companies are not doing exit interviews.

“For a very little effort you can get invaluable feedback,” she said, stressing that it is a last chance to find out what went wrong and, if you learn from them, you may avoid losing other employees for similar reasons in the future.

She said: “A leaver may feel free to say things that they felt they couldn’t say if they wanted to say and that, in itself, says something, perhaps about their boss, department or the company culture.

“You may see red flags and warning signals around stress and tension affecting other employees.”