How to Use an Employee Exit Survey to Improve Your Culture

Kristin Luke

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When an employee decides to leave the fold, questions abound. Was it the money or the benefits? The workload? Their co-workers or supervisor? Financial planning is an “employee’s market” at the moment, and many workers are leaving for what they perceive to be greener pastures.

Despite your best intentions, you will see employee churn in your firm. Onboarding is the beginning of your employee’s life at your firm; the exit survey is the end of it.

Rather than see your lead advisor’s or operations manager’s departure as a failure on your part, use it as an opportunity to find the weak spots in your culture. If you have a significant sample of exit surveys from several employees, or if you want to be more proactive and have your existing employees sound off, an exit survey can guide you to genuine, positive fixes to your firm’s environment.

We’ve developed an exit survey specifically for financial firms. Here’s how to use it and get the most out of it.

Step 1: Have departing employees take the survey

Has an employee given notice? On their last day of work, have them take the survey. There’s no need to hold a live interview. Give your departing employee a good amount of time to answer all the questions, and encourage them to answer each one thoroughly. You’re going to need as much information as possible if you’re going to improve your office culture.

Step 2: Have existing employees take the survey anonymously

If you need feedback and don’t want to wait until an employee leaves to get the information you need, have your employees take the exit survey. Make this completely anonymous to get the most honest answers. When you’ve gathered all your surveys, look for patterns. Are employees complaining about an unclear company direction? Less potential for advancement? The pay?

The survey also asks employees how long they’ve been planning on leaving your firm. If you see a pattern where multiple employees started thinking about leaving five months ago, you can pinpoint the change that caused them to think collectively, at that time, about quitting.

Step 3: Make cultural changes

If you have enough exit surveys, you’ll have a detailed list of where you excel and where you’re failing. One employee survey is not enough to make changes, but as you gather more data, you’ll see patterns. Once you have your improvements list, triage what you think you can change first and what will take more time.