Skip to main content
Article | EX Insights

Survey best practice: How to run a successful exit survey program


By Andromachie Lella | February 10, 2020

Read on for tips from our survey experts for running a successful exit survey program.

People choose to voluntarily leave their organization for a variety of reasons, but losing employees incurs substantial cost to the business through wasted training, missed opportunities and lost intellectual capital. Therefore, it’s prudent to try to understand and address the underlying causes of voluntary attrition, especially if your turnover rate is high. One way to understand why your employees leave is by conducting an exit survey program.

Ask the right questions

The first step is asking questions that yield key insights. The Exit Survey template available in Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software helps you glean valuable data about the reasons behind resignations. Our questions are based on a polling study of 30,000 employees globally and include the most common factors behind attrition. Our proprietary response scale also produces a shorter survey-taking experience by eliminating the need for a separate importance rating. Depending on your industry or business model, you may want to supplement our standard Exit Survey template with additional questions specific to your organization.

Think about employee personas

When it comes to demographics, it’s best to focus on employee personas rather than a detailed organizational hierarchy, since it is unlikely you will take actions for any specific team. You can, however, take actions for groups or types of employees. For example, you can ask about role, tenure, function, location as well as what they plan to do next and whether they would consider working for you again. This last piece of data is especially important for businesses with seasonal headcount fluctuations.

Keep survey administration simple

Exit surveys are not an ad hoc activity. Because they need to be available at all times, it makes sense to keep the administration process as simple as possible. We recommend setting up a non-HRIS-based survey and keeping it open indefinitely, so employees can quickly and easily complete it when they resign. This is the kind of survey you can set up once and then almost forget about.

View the results in context

Setting expectations with leaders regarding the results of an exit survey program is also critical. We generally find response rates for exit surveys to be much lower than other kinds of employee surveys. It may take a while before you collect enough responses to inform meaningful conclusions. We suggest setting up a regular data review every quarter.

Exit survey results should also be reviewed in the context of your business model and employee value proposition. For example, if your philosophy is average wages but a great culture, you may naturally see a high percent of people leave because of pay. But if you pride yourself in providing excellent career progression and a large number of people cite limited career development as a reason for leaving, you should look into why your career programs are not having the desired effect.

Sign in to your Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software account today to explore our exit survey template or contact us for a demo.


Product Consultant
Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software

Andromachie supports Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software users through training videos, online help topics and the design of new features. When she’s not working, Andromachie loves to cook, draw and listen to podcasts. Follow Andromachie on LinkedIn.

Contact Us
Related content tags, list of links Article EX Insights Talent