Modern Training

How your offboarding process can help you reduce your turnover rate

Posted on: February 9, 2022Updated on: May 28, 2024By: Axonify Team

Is your turnover rate higher than ever? It might be time to rethink or re-tool your offboarding process.

Turnover is skyrocketing across the board. McKinsey’s 2021 survey across Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States found that an average of 40% of employees are likely to leave their jobs in 3-6 months. This trend has made running a business extremely difficult, but there are steps you can take to improve your own retention rate, even in this unprecedented economy. The most valuable thing you can do is discover why your employees are leaving so that you can act accordingly.

That’s where your offboarding process comes in. When an employee leaves, they may be willing to discuss the reasons why. By inquiring about this information, you may discover ways to improve the job for the people who are still there.

How To Use Your Offboarding Process To Reduce Turnover

The most common reasons why employees leave

We know that turnover is high, but why are employees leaving in the first place? We wanted to find out, so we partnered with Arlington Research to ask deskless employees why they were walking away from their jobs during the Great Recession. Among the insights, we gleaned:

  • The #1 reason why employees leave is because they feel overworked and burned out.
  • While compensation remains a factor, many employees have bigger priorities like improved scheduling, better relationships and general appreciation/recognition.
  • Deskless shift workers don’t feel like receiving the same pandemic support as office workers and work-from-home team members. Only 67.3% of deskless  employees are satisfied with pandemic support compared to 85.8% of office workers.
  • Many shift workers feel that skill development could be improved in their workplace.

You can see these insights (and more) in greater detail in our 2021 State of the Frontline Work Experience report.

Other research affirms much of what we’ve observed. For instance, a team of MIT researchers combed through over a million Glassdoor reviews to understand why people quit during the Great Resignation. They listed the following as the top five motivations:

  • Toxic work culture. The researchers found that, in this economy, workers are more than ten times more likely to quit over a toxic workplace than over low pay.
  • Job insecurity. The pandemic has led to many company restructuring, shake-ups and general uncertainty. This has led to rampant job insecurity that causes many employees to leave.
  • Burnout. As previously noted, our own research found this to be the #1-factor causing deskless workers to quit. According to MIT researchers, more companies have made innovation a top priority over the past couple of years, if only to rise above the current challenges. But high levels of innovation, while exciting, may also be contributing to employee burnout.
  • Failure to recognise performance. The new work economy is asking a lot from employees. When hard-working employees aren’t adequately recognised for their contribution, it creates tremendous frustration.
  • Poor response to COVID-19. The pandemic response itself has become a major source of concern for employees. Whether those employees feel that their workplace isn’t taking the pandemic seriously enough, is taking pandemic measures to extremes or is handling it inconsistently.

Keep these trends in mind as you optimise your exit interviews and general offboarding process.

What goes into the employee offboarding process?

Offboarding includes all the decisions and processes related to overseeing an employee’s departure, whether they’re resigning, retiring or facing termination. Your employee offboarding checklist will consist of reassigning the employee’s responsibilities, preparing the paperwork, collecting company assets and revoking the employee’s accounts, passwords and user rights.

But as you collect your company equipment and process any NDAs with the employee, don’t forget about the all-important exit interview. This is a critical step, and it’s often overlooked. According to some research, about 25% of companies don’t even bother with exit interviews, and participation isn’t always high for companies that do use them. For paper-based exit interviews, participation rates are as low as 30-35%. That’s why you should always strive to conduct face-to-face exit interviews on company time if possible.

How to use exit interviews to your advantage

Your exit interviews are key to determining your employees’ pain points. While employees will sometimes leave for reasons unrelated to the organisation (such as relocation), it’s more common for employees to leave due to dissatisfaction or the belief that a personal need isn’t being adequately met. You’ll want to analyse interview feedback and turn it into data you continuously update to identify trends.

When conducting an exit interview, consider including questions like:

  • What are your primary reasons for leaving?
  • What have you enjoyed most and least about working for this organisation?
  • Did you receive adequate training to perform your job to the best of your ability?
  • Was our training system effective for communicating the necessary skills and company expectations?
  • Did you receive the required support from your supervisors and team?
  • Has your contribution to the organisation been adequately recognised?
  • At what point did you realise this job might not be a good long-term fit for you? (In some cases, the employee will candidly declare that they had their doubts from day one)
  • What can we do to improve our operations to make employees feel supported?
  • Is our company culture aligned with your personal values?

Using the feedback from your departing employee, you can improve your onboarding process, maximise employee engagement and ensure that future employees stay longer.

Other ways to reduce turnover

While exit interviews are important, they won’t tell you everything. Employees won’t always be 100% transparent in answering your interview questions, and in many cases, they might not fully understand their own reasons for leaving. They might just know that they’re “struggling” or “fed up.” So how do you fill in the blanks?

There are other tools that you can use to glean important information. Not only can these tools help you better understand your turnover rate, but they can also help you prevent workers from quitting before they even get to the offboarding stage.

Provide adequate training and support

Employee retention starts on day one with the onboarding process. Suppose you have a good onboarding solution like Axonify – proven to reduce time to onboard to full proficiency . With tools like Axonify, you can give new employees a firm foundation for success within the company while collecting valuable data about how people are developing and performing on the job as potential leading indicators of disengagement and potential turnover.

Axonify will give you insights like:

  • How well do your employees understand important job-related concepts
  • How confident your employees feel in their knowledge of job-related concepts
  • How engaged are your employees with company training

In addition, you can embed surveys into the training lessons to get deeper insights into how your employees feel about the content and their role within the organisation. Armed with this information, you can often spot when an employee is struggling or has doubts—and then provide the necessary coaching or assistance before a small frustration turns into a resignation.

Company surveys

It’s a good idea to send out a regular company-wide survey to gauge the general health of your workforce. While a large quarterly survey can still do the trick, many companies are moving away from this approach because the surveys take so long to administer, analyse and take action. Instead, more companies are moving toward smaller pulse surveys, collecting data more regularly to understand changes in employee sentiment.

No matter how you decide to administer your surveys, the key is to inquire about where your employees are excelling, where they’re struggling, where they have questions and whether or not their needs are being met.

Some of the questions in a company survey may be similar or identical to those you’d include in an exit interview. But rather than gathering information from departing employees, you’re gathering information from—and potentially retaining—existing employees who might be on the fence.

As an alternative to company surveys (or in conjunction with company surveys), you can also ask the same types of questions during employee performance reviews. A performance review should be two-way. On the one hand, you’re coaching your employees on their strengths and areas for improvement. At the same time, you’re listening and learning about how you can help these employees get the most from their workplace experience.

And, of course, you don’t want to neglect your new employees who are still learning the ropes. 30-, 60- and 90-day check-ins are common practices during onboarding. You can assess how employees feel about the job so far and how they’re being supported, and then you can offer help in a personal way.

Online data

Like the MIT researchers, you can use company review sites like Glassdoor to gain additional insights. Because Glassdoor reviews are submitted anonymously, former employees tend to be much more candid and honest about their reasons for leaving and their assessments of the company as a whole.

Just note that a former employee will post a personal, unfair and grossly exaggerated indictment of their workplace experience every once in a while. You have to remember that people who leave unprompted reviews – whether of a company or a product – usually have strong feelings one way or the other. This can give you a sense of sentiment but should be used as part of the story, only part of the story – unless the trend is clear.

You’ll never eliminate turnover, but you can reduce it

The goal isn’t to eliminate turnover entirely. There will always be resignations and replacements (not to mention the occasional employee termination), especially if you operate in a high-turnover industry like retail, food service or any business with a large deskless workforce presence. But even if you only reduce your turnover by a marginal percentage, it can help your business to run much more efficiently and profitably.

Use whatever tools you have at your disposal to maximise your retention: employee perks, LMS data and surveys. And, of course, make sure to follow onboarding best practices. You won’t be able to make all of your employees’ wishes come true, but you will be able to identify important trends that may be hindering your business. And that will make all the difference.

Axonify Team

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