Pre-Exit Interviews — How effective are exit interviews when nurses resign?

As seen on on 09/26/2018 by Carole Jakucs, BSN, RN, PHN.

Is it the boss or the work causing turnover?

Enter the exit interview – a practice some organizations use in their quest to reduce turnover and discern why staff members resign.

But recruiters and other HR professionals might wonder how effective exit interviews are in providing useful information. Do they actually help reduce turnover?

The answer is a definite, “No,” said John J. Sullivan, PhD, professor of management at San Francisco State University.

“Exit interviews are not helpful when done in their usual manner,” said Sullivan, who also is an internationally known HR thought leader from the Silicon Valley. “Exit interviews are generally worthless. What are the odds of someone being completely honest on their last day on the job as to why they’re leaving, and especially if they still need a reference.”

If you want to conduct exit interviews, Sullivan said, they can be more effective if they are done post-exit and, at a minimum, at least two weeks after someone has left.

“Research confirms that after two weeks, when some of the emotions subside and a reference may no longer be needed, the answers will change by 40%,” he said. “The key is waiting.”

Once someone makes the decision to leave his or her job, it’s too late, Sullivan said. “It’s analogous to being in divorce court — it’s too late for a marriage,” he said. “It’s better to talk to people before they leave, when something can be done to change their minds.”

A more ideal approach in retaining nursing staff is to conduct pre-exit interviews, also called stay interviews, Sullivan said.

“Pre-exit interviews are done quarterly in the Silicon Valley,” he said. “Key questions to ask are: Why do you stay? Is there anything that makes you want to leave? Are there any deal breakers?”

Sullivan advises to not wait too long for pre-exit interviews.

“You want to catch staff before they become too frustrated with their job, whether it’s the work, salary, lack of support, limited opportunities for growth or a bad boss,” he said. …

… According to Sullivan, integrating the following comments into stay interviews can help you hold on to talented nurses by telling them:

  • “You’re on our radar” – explain their commitment to excellence is getting noticed
  • “Thank you” – show gratitude for their key contributions
  • “You’re critical to us” – convey their importance to the organization
  • “My door is open” – remind them that questions or concerns are always welcome
  • “Tell me why you stay here” – ask what keeps them here and what would make them leave
  • Show them the impact of their work – patients they saved and who lived as a result of their care

To read the full article, click here.

image from pixabay.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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