Co-Workers Provide Valuable Insights into Employee Departures

Rather than conduct exit interviews with employees leaving for another job, new research shows businesses may actually glean more information on the reason for the departure by talking with the workers' colleagues instead.

Gathering information on why employees leave a business can help employers identify major problem areas , reduce turnover rates and improve morale, but a study from the Personnel Decisions Research Institutes raised questions about the validity of such surveys — which often are conducted by chatting with the exiting employee, who may or may not provide accurate information regarding the decision to leave.

The research, conducted by PDRI research scientist Elizabeth Lentz, found that speaking with the employee's office peers may be more beneficial. Specifically, the research revealed co-workers often have a deep understanding about exiting employees' decisions, and are able to provide accurate and valuable information regarding the motive behind the exit.

Lentz conducted exit-style interviews both with employees who were leaving a business and their colleagues, and said she was surprised at how similar their answers were. She said that proved co-workers' ability to provide quick, accurate details regarding the employee's departure.

"We expected responses to be related, especially because the co-workers had similar experience, background and job duties, but the level of convergence was remarkable," Lentz told BusinessNewsDaily.
She said the pattern of responses so closely matched one another, that the top reasons for leaving were identical.

It wasn't just peers who were able to provide accurate answers for why an employee left. The study also showed others who interacted professionally with the employee, such as bosses and human resources specialists ,  were able to provide valuable and accurate information.

Businesses looking to save time and resources on exit interviews should consider this approach, Lentz said.

"Depending on the circumstances, this could be a cost-effective and timely solution for management," Lentz said.