Why Employers Shouldn?t Give Up On the Exit Interview


The exit interview has caught a lot of flack from the HR industry for being unproductive, inconclusive and skewed. By it’s very nature it can lend itself to responses that are one sided, exaggerated or even elusive, but it can also be very telling of the sometimes-hidden inner workings of an organization. If done correctly, it can be a useful tool that shows you what no other tool can:  the weaknesses, and sometimes strengths, of your company. Before you give up on the exit interview, take a look at these seven benefits of conducting them:

Identify Trends

As you gather exit interviews, you’ll find that employees leaving your organization are able to provide valuable information. Whether it is a personnel issue or a company culture problem, if there’s a reason employees are leaving, you’ll find it in these interviews and will be able to identify major areas of concern. By identifying what those are, you’ll be able to make steps to improve your organization’s retention rate.

Personnel Problems Brought to Light

Some say that the exit interview was created just for the purpose of identifying bad managers. While it is a bit more extensive than that, there is some truth to that thought since poor management is a leading cause of high turnover. Asking the right questions in your exit interview will allow employees to be honest without feeling like they’re tattling or being unfair to their manager.

Honest Answers

The fact that employees sometimes don’t feel comfortable providing honest answers has been one of the main criticisms of exit interviews, but don’t count out honest answers just yet. To obtain the most honest answers possible, conduct the exit interview in a neutral way, such as by a member of HR (not the employee’s manager) or online through a survey tool like Survey Monkey. Employees don’t provide honest answers when they feel there will be judgment or repercussions for what they say, so conducting it in a neutral fashion will help ease some of the stress. You can also encourage exiting employees to post a review on Glassdoor.

Measure Morale

Even though an employee is leaving your company, they don’t necessarily have a negative view of it. People seek new employment for all types of reasons, from better compensation to a shorter commute, so it’s beneficial to gauge the impression your company has left on the employee. Chances are the morale level of employees who leave isn’t that far off from those who are still with your company.

Opportunity to Retain or Rehire

Many companies understand that employees leave for a number of reasons and it’s very rare that the reasons are so personal that they would never return. If the employee is someone with whom you would like to continue working, use the exit interview as an opportunity to make an offer. If they decide that they are going to move on, make note that they may be worth recruiting again in the future. An exit interview with an employee doesn’t have to be the last interaction your company has with that person.

Training Needs

Learning and development deficiencies are one of the main causes of employees not experiencing success in the course of their employment. As an HR professional, it’s sometimes difficult to see a complete picture of training needs since you aren’t with employees in their departments every day. Asking questions specifically related to training can reveal where your company could have made a difference or can in the future.

Free Research

Companies pay thousands of dollars each year to identify strengths and weaknesses in their organizations and to gauge employee morale. Exit interviews provide a source of free, ongoing research from which your company can gain insight. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn and improve.

What are your pros and cons of conducting employee exit interviews? Let us know in the comments section below.

Categories: Employee Engagement
Author:  Jessica Miller-Merrell

Author and workplace technology strategist. @blogging4jobs


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