Know Before They Go – The Art of Exit and Stay Interviews

IRI Podcast episode on exit interviews

On ProjectHR, we’ve devoted a fair amount of time to discussing The Great Resignation, but today, we focus on retention, on how to keep the employees you already have, simply by listening to your people – the ones who are leaving, as well as the ones who remain. Today's guest is Chris Coberly, CEO of People Element, the industry leader in third-party exit interviews and an employee experience partner for companies looking to increase engagement, reduce turnover and enhance culture while driving business results. Here, he explains: 

  • "Exit" interview strategy;
  • The goal of "stay" interviews;
  • The value of developing efficient employee listening processes; and 
  • Why acting on the data you collect is critical to retaining your workforce!

If you prefer to read along while you listen, we've done all the hard work for you! We listened back to this episode and took notes below, and access is free! 


The Exit Interview Strategy

  • Exit Interviews help employers understand why an employee has decided to leave the company, providing feedback that other forms of employee listening may not.
  • They can provide greater clarity for not only the company, but also the employee. 
  • Most companies have HR conduct exit interviews, and this can be a trusted place for former employees to go with their feedback.
    • Exit interviews can help with employee participation for room to improve, and can provide direct feedback about specific people or policies at a company. By doing this through HR, it can help facilitate some of those more difficult conversations.


Get all the notes, links, tips, tricks and most important content from this episode - for free!

By signing up you agree to our terms

Employee Engagement

  • Different companies have different employee listening tools such as annual, semiannual, or monthly engagement surveys. Additionally, the employee listening strategy could start as early as the onboarding process to start those early discussions with managers. 
  • It is difficult to get clear data from exit interviews. However, companies that have a strong exit interview process, and use the feedback and data from those interviews, help current and prospective employees stay more engaged, and help leaders make better decisions moving forward.

Why Do People Leave?

  • The feedback provided in exit interviews looks different based on the type of organization. However, across the board, most exit interviews express a desire for more growth and development opportunities
    • This includes promotions, acquiring more skills, and just learning more to be a better employee. 
  • Talent also express a need for more resources and support from the organization in exit interviews
    • It is important to make employees feel valued and that the company is providing them with the resources and support that they need to succeed. Additionally, it is important to consider balance and being able to find creative opportunities to navigate challenges.
    • Some exit interviews reveal that employees feel that the company does not value them or their personal values are not in line with company values. If an employee does not feel valued, but is, that is an opportunity to adjust perception of how a company views an employee and vice versa.

The Goals of Stay Interviews

  • A stay interview tries to understand what the roadblocks are for an employee on their journey with a company.
  • By identifying specific items preventing an employee's long term success at a company, and developing a relationship between employees and an organization to work through these challenges. 
  • Stay interviews, and directly working with employees to encourage them to grow and develop at a company prevents potential turnover and increases engagement with that employee, and potentially other employees in the organization.
  • Stay interviews can be conducted by a manager, but this can prevent 100% honesty from the employee in some cases. However, periodically checking in with the employee and resolving problems upfront, can prevent more problems down the line.
    • Organizations are encouraged to do annual stay interviews with employees to maintain engagement and take action on any developing issues. However, they can be done more often (such as every 3 months or even every month), but by doing them too frequently, there could be diminishing return and engagement.

Stay and Exit Interviews

  • Ideally companies are able to conduct both stay and exit interviews. This gives an organization a clear view of what might be pushing people out, and provide pinpointed data across the entire company. 
  • By conducting both stay and exit interviews, and taking action, you can also save your company time and money through less turnover and overall stronger employee engagement. 

What Companies Need to Do

  • Companies need to be asking themselves the right questions about what their listening strategy is, what their engagement strategy is, and where they need to improve. By understanding the process and taking on new and different perspectives, an organization may have a better idea of why employees might be inclined to leave or stay.
  • It is vital that companies use the data collected and use it, and know what tools they need to utilize to develop a strategy for success.

People Element Platform

  • By conducting these interviews, Mr. Coberly and his company, People Element, work with other organizations and strategically address the problems they are facing. Over the course of the last 20 years, more companies have started to use the strategies that he and his team have developed.
    • Mr. Coberly and his team were able to develop programs for employee listening processes which help organizations take action more efficiently. Then, companies can use the data acquired through this program to pinpoint exact areas for improvement for companies. 
  • By using the People Element platform, companies are able to gather feedback from employees. Using the platform adds an extra layer of confidentiality for the employees, therefore the company will likely receive more honest feedback. Additionally, the platform maximizes the data set to give very targeted data for the most accurate conclusions possible.
  • A company’s HR team is then able to look at the data collected by the platform and use interactive tools to summarize it to the most useful analysis.
    • The three most useful elements of the People Element platform is receiving recommendations, developing an action plan, and setting a goal. 

Chris Coberly Background

  • Bachelor of Arts from the University of Utah
  • Associates degree in Spanish & Business from Utah Valley University
  • Mr. Coberly has worked as Director of Publishing Services for Content Connections, Franchisee/Operator of Data Doctors, and Vice President, Business Development for Zeryn/Promoterz
  • He currently serves as the CEO for People Element


Subscribe & Review The ProjectHR Podcast!

Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of ProjectHR. If the information in our weekly conversations and interviews have helped you in your business journey, please head over to wherever you get your podcasts and subscribe to the show. We'd also love it if you left us a five-star review! Your reviews and feedback will not only help us continue to deliver great, helpful content, but it will also help us reach even more amazing professionals just like you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email