Managing employee turnover isn’t the most glamorous part of running a company. Preparing to open up a vacancy can be just as taxing as filling one. Having a strategy to conduct exit interviews can ensure a smooth and amicable transition for both company and employee. And it might just glean the kind of honest feedback that can help businesses improve.
The Value of Exit Interviews
Over 4.5 million workers separated from their employment in August, 2015; that’s nearly 3.5 percent of the American workforce – in one month. With all those employees on their way out, that’s a lot of information going through the door that could be put to good use, if only companies could get their hands on it.
Information is a resource. Knowing why employees leave and what could have gotten them to stay helps businesses to recruit and retain the right types of workers. An effective employee feedback software should also be used to better collect, store and analyze the information you will obtain from the interviews.
Exit interviews aren’t just for departing employees; businesses might also choose to conduct them when employees transition into new roles or complete large, resource intensive projects.
Customizing Your Exit Interview Process to Fit Your Company
Preparing to lose an employee involves many steps — collecting any proprietary materials in the employee’s possession; transferring her knowledge base, contacts and current projects to other staff members to ensure continuity; and making sure any unresolved issues are addressed, to name a few.
An effective off-boarding process allows closure for employers and employees alike. Interviews are an important step in facilitating this process. They should be scheduled immediately after notice is given, while departing employees are still on the payroll, to guarantee their motivation to participate while events are fresh in their minds.
Things to Learn During an Exit Interview
Some employees want nothing more than to leave on a good note and won’t say much no matter what you ask them; others will be more than willing to give candid criticism; and still others may take the opportunity to air a few grievances.
Some questions employers can commonly get answers to in an exit interview include the following:
1. What are their reasons for leaving?
- Are they moving away from something about their jobs they don’t like, or pursuing another beneficial opportunity?
- Is the main issue one of compensation or advancement opportunities?
- Did they have problems with a particular supervisor?
- Answering this question can tell you something important about what you might need to do in order to retain employees in the future.
2. Were their workplace expectations met?
- When company and employee visions don’t sync, it’s just a matter of time before the relationship dissolves.
- If this happens, there may be a communication disconnect at some point between job recruitment and job performance.
3. What recommendations do they have for the company?
- Sometimes employees feel more free at the end of the employment relationship to give accurate and useful feedback.
- If nothing else, asking this questions sends a message to the departing employee that she can feel comfortable, that the company is listening, and that anything said will be welcome.
Things You Don’t Want to Learn in an Exit Interview
While some employees may use their exit interview as an opportunity to be more candid, businesses learning new and important information through the exit interview process can be a bad sign.
Something may be wrong with the company’s feedback mechanism. When employees are walking out the door before you know the reason why, then the price of that information may be far too high.
Getting candid feedback is an ongoing process made possible by many formal and practical processes, open lines of communication and a useful performance review method among them. Employers who don’t already use comment boxes or anonymous surveys to allow employees to express themselves probably haven’t done all they can do to slow the revolving door.
Participation Rates in Exit Interviews
The more confidentiality the process offers, the more likely the employee is to take part.
Research on exit interview participation rates has shown that 35 percent of employees participate in pen and paper evaluations when they are offered. Online participation rates are even higher, with an average of over 65 percent.
Voice interviews conducted via phone or in person have the lowest participation rates. Phone interviewees commonly worry about confidentiality, which may limit their candor. In addition, voice interviews are the most costly to conduct.
Exit Interviews Are an Opportunity to Grow
Exit interviews are an employer’s last chance to allow those on their way out to describe their work experience and share the unique insights they’ve attained. By encouraging interviewees to be candid and obtaining constructive feedback, employers can better move forward despite losing personnel. Your people will leave one day, but their contributions need will never be forgotten.