Separation. Termination. Departure. No matter what you call it, the fact remains the same: People on your team will come and go.

Employee turnover is interruptive, expensive, and inconvenient. But, like most things, it can also be an opportunity to learn and grow.

Here are two ways to transform your turnover into an organizational opportunity.

  • Create a separation process

Each employee is different, and every person has their own reasons for leaving. But your process should always be smooth and consistent.

  • If an employee is leaving voluntarily, request a letter of resignation. This will document the reasons for the departure and help protect your organization against subsequent unemployment claims or other legal challenges.
  • If it’s an involuntary termination, make sure the employee’s supervisor and someone from HR are both present during the termination conversation. This will prevent any confusion over what transpired during the discussion.

In either case, you’ll want to cover the following:

  • Departure procedure and timeline
  • Staff communication plan
  • What happens with unused Vacation or PTO
  • Severance pay, if applicable
  • Eligibility for benefits continuation
  • Employee office clean out/personal items
  • The return of all company property and equipment
  • Your policy on providing references
  • Exit survey details or instructions
  • Who to contact with questions

You’ll also want to make sure processes are in place to cancel access to company credit cards, logins, systems, equipment, vehicles, and facilities.

Having a clearly defined process in place will make it much easier to deal with departures in a timely, efficient, and egalitarian way.

  • Conduct exit interviews

If you really want to know why your employees are leaving, you have to ask them— and listen carefully to what they say.

Exit interviews don’t come without issues. Many employees are afraid to speak candidly for fear of leaving on a bad note, burning bridges, or upsetting important business/industry connections. They may also want to receive positive recommendations or referrals as they move forward.

Despite this potential hurdle, putting together a solid exit interview program can yield critical feedback and information to help you uncover internal problems with company leadership, management, training, or morale.

Exit interview questions should explore topics like company culture, leadership, morale, development, training, workload, expectations, management, and compensation. A few examples include:

  • Was your work adequately acknowledged, appreciated, and compensated?
  • Were you given adequate training, tools, and support?
  • Did your workload seem fair, appropriate, and manageable?
  • Could you see career development options within the organization?
  • What was your relationship with your manager like? Your colleagues? Your team?
  • How would you describe the company culture and morale?

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, one emerging best practice is for organizations to ask this simple question:

Please complete the sentence “I don’t know why the company doesn’t just ____.”

This one question alone can uncover top employee frustrations and trends.

What kind of turnover do you have?

Is your employee turnover part of the natural business cycle, or do you have some serious organizational issues that need fixing? A revolving employee door could be normal for your industry— or an opportunity for contemplation and growth.

Having a consistent, smooth exit process in place will ease the pain associated with employee departures, and conducting exit interviews to find out why good people are leaving will allow you to answer the age-old question: Is it them or is it you?

As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, please contact JorgensenHR at (661) 600-2070, email or visit

    Have a question or are in need of HR services?