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Re-Thinking Exit Interviews. What Former Employees are Saying (Part 3)

By John Pate - CEO, Founder of

By John Pate On Mar. 02, 2018

In Part 1 of this 3 Part Exit Interview series, "Re-Thinking Exit Interviews”, my point was there’s a better way to conduct exit interviews and the potential information you could collect is too valuable not to have. In Part 2, "Exit Interviews - The Data", we looked at the exit interview statistical data we've collected over the past year and the surprising insight it provided our clients.

In this final post of the series I'm going to share an example of the type of insight an employer can receive from candid exit interview feedback of former employees.

I actually thought this was going to be easy. After all, how hard is it to cut and paste comments, received from former employees and their exit interviews, into this post and add my comments about them as needed?

The answer: Hard.

Yes – there are hundreds of comments from former employees that, taken as written, say some crazy, scary and awful things about their employment experience. But I couldn’t find a theme other than what we already know: People accept jobs that turn out to be different than what they expected. And they don’t care for it – at all.

Then I found “Anna”.

Anna (an alias) became a popular reference point in one company’s results. After her name appeared for the 4th time, I wondered: Same person? Same store? Yes, to both. Here are a few of the comments:

• “Anna is an all around rude person”.

• “Anna was the most disrespectful person and I ended my assignment on the first day because if my manger disrespect (double sic) her employees for no reason why work there.”

• “Anna is 100 percent ignorant and a bigot”

• In response to “would you re-apply?”, the answer was yes - “if Anna wasn’t the manager”.


How does her store’s turnover compare to others in her company? It turns out: Not only was there “smoke” there was the proverbial fire. Note to Reader: This may be too much information. If so, I apologize. Sometimes my “wonk hat” fits too tightly.

Some background on the company:

They are Midwestern based, have 60+ locations and are organized into 7 Regions.

• 4 of the regions are in the state’s largest city (City A).

• 3 are in another town (City B) - approximately 1/10th the size of City A.

• Anna’s location (“Location Z”) is in City A.

• The date range is the previous nine months.

Here’s the overview, based on invitations sent during the date range:

Alt Text

But back to Anna.

Her store, Location Z (highlighted in yellow above), had the highest turnover within the company: 26% of City A’s and 5.2% of the company’s. Her Region – again, one of seven - accounted for 19.93% of the Company’s turnover. To simplify things:

• During our date range, Location Z lost 30 people – 3.3/month. This was the highest turnover in the company – by a wide margin.

• The next closest store in Z’s region lost 23.

BTW: Did anyone notice that almost all of the respondents (96.4%) were gone within one year? Was it the hiring market? Is it a “big city” problem? Perhaps. However, here’s another data point: For the same date range, 3 stores in Location Z’s region lost 7, 4 and 3 people - compared to Z’s 30 – that’s 3.3 per month!

To me, this is the perfect nexus of the exit interview process, the data it can provide and how a company could use it to improve. Although I’m pretty sure the company knows there’s a problem in Location Z, having the data makes a stronger case for taking action sooner rather than later.

If you want the data, you have to ask for it and asking your former employees why they left makes sense. As business people, we know this. But doing it in a way that gives everyone an opportunity to participate and having immediate access to the data just makes it “EZier”.

For more information about or to attend one of our weekly webinars, please visit our website at

Feb. 24, 2018

Exit Interviews - The Data (Part 2 of 3)

Author: John Pate

Feb. 23, 2018

Re-Thinking Exit Interviews (Part 1)

Author: John Pate