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When Documenting Employee Turnover Uncovers Deeper Issues

High turnover rates can be indicative of a larger problem within the workplace. Failing to deal with these issues can be a major problem for organizations of all sizes. Studies suggest that low retention rates can affect workplace morale, lower customer service quality, reduce productivity rates and ultimately affect the company’s bottom line.

In fact, the cost of losing even a low-level employee could cost a business as much as $25,000.

In a proactive measure to reduce turnover rates, many companies are turning to exit interviews to help them determine the causes behind the numbers. While this is undoubtedly an important step to help improve retention rates, it can bring to light even deeper issues within the workplace.

If not handled properly, these issues can wreak havoc throughout the workplace and even leave your company susceptible to lawsuits.

What Is HR’s Role in Handling Workplace Issues?

Exit interviews can provide a wealth of information for upper management, but they can also hint at possible workplace issues, including:

  • Bad behavior
  • Poor management
  • Harmful work environment
  • Direct allegations of workplace misconduct

Once these potential problems are discovered, it is impossible for HR to look the other way without putting the company in jeopardy. In order to protect the company, its customers and other workers, every allegation or hint of misconduct must be handled thoroughly and with care.

Documentation Is Critical

One of the most important roles HR plays in this type of investigation is to maintain detailed documentation. Face-to-face exit interviews can be very beneficial, but is it critical to take the next step and get everything in writing. The more documentation the HR team can provide, the better equipped your company will be to determine the extent of the problem.

When maintained properly, historical data from exit interviews—as well as from performance reviews, staff complaints and other sources—will make it easier to detect patterns of poor behavior or misconduct.

How Should HR Respond?

One of the most difficult aspects for the HR department is to determine which allegations to investigate and to what extent. It’s erroneous to think that since the employee is terminated the problem will go away.

HR still has the responsibility, and in some cases it’s a legal necessity, to investigate all complaints and allegations. What that investigation looks like, however, depends on the the specifics of the situation.

Vague Response

In many cases, a terminating employee will leave a vague response, such as ‘everyone is harassing me’, but fails to provide substantial information about the type of harassment or who is responsible. HR’s role is to try to obtain as much information as possible from the former employee.

If the exiting employee is unresponsive or uncooperative, the only thing your company can do is to thoroughly document your attempts to reach out to the former employee.

Unwilling Participant

There may also be cases where a terminating employee makes a specific complaint, but then refuses to provide the necessary details need to launch a full investigation.

The allegation itself may be cause for a in-house investigation. In your investigation report, be sure to document as much information as the exiting employee will provide, as well as record your attempts to obtain more detailed data from the former employee.

Recurring Problems

While every allegation of workplace misconduct should be taken seriously, when your exit interviews uncover a pattern of problems or corroborate other grumblings you have been hearing within the workplace, it is probably time to take a deeper look. This is where historical documentation will be very beneficial.

Reviewing past documents and employee complaints can help the HR team get to the root of the problem.

Ignoring workplace issues—including those identified by an exiting employee—can put your company at risk for lowered product quality, reductions in your bottom line and potential employee lawsuits. Instead, take every workplace investigation seriously and maintain a high standard of documentation.

HR Acuity provides quality documentation software that promotes consistency and fairness during thorough workplace investigations. These services can protect your company from the danger of workplace issues and help you improve retention rates.

Deb Muller
Deb Muller

Deb Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, the employee relations case management solution that companies trust to help them track, investigate, and analyze employee issues the right way.