Exit interviews: How I made a difference: Georgina Corbett, group HR director, Scott Wilson

We’d been doing face-to-face exit interviews for a long time, and were spending about 600 HR hours a year on them.

I felt that given the amount of time we were spending, we should be able to collect some good data, so I started asking my team ‘who’s leaving?’, ‘why are they leaving?’, ‘where are they going?’. There was a lot of foot-shuffling and it became obvious that they didn’t know the answers – we were going through the process without understanding the data. We’re in a very competitive industry and we just can’t afford to lose good people, so we needed to know why retention was such an issue.

We teamed up with retention specialist Talent Drain, and implemented ExitEye, an online exit questionnaire that leavers complete anonymously.

It gave us very rich data and we had an extremely high completion rate – about 90% – which was quite surprising, as you would expect people leaving a company to be disengaged.

Suddenly we had answers to the demographic questions we’d wanted to ask before. We knew what grade people were leaving at and what locations they were leaving from, and we began to really understand what elements of working here were causing dissatisfaction.

The answers surprised us. We expected salary and rewards to be the main source of dissatisfaction, but this was only the case within specific groups. When we started allocating salary reviews, we decided than rather than awarding 1% across the whole paybill, we would concentrate on hotspots where staff were more vulnerable to the market pull.

We also now have some fantastic data on where staff were moving to, and what salary packages they would get. We don’t see any of the data – it goes to Talent Drain, which analyses it then sends us the results – so outgoing staff were happy to provide information about their new employer.

We’re about 18 months in, and we reckon that we’ve reduced attrition by about 4%. We’ve saved about £2.5m in recruitment and training costs – and that’s not including what we might have spent without the benefit of the new data. And on the back of this new data, we implemented a global employee engagement survey.

Why it worked

  1. We brought in experts

  2. We guaranteed anonymity

  3. We acted on the results

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