When one of your employees gives notice, do you always follow up with an exit interview? If not, you might want to reconsider. The exit interview can be an opportunity for employers to protect their brand, identify issues with morale, and reduce the risk of turnover in the future.

The exit interview is also a good time to remind the exiting employee of any agreements that were signed about confidentiality, trade secrets, and company data. There might even be a non-compete clause in the contract.

Here are some other good reasons to conduct an exit interview.

Exit Interviews Can Resolve Issues and Prevent Future Problems

The exit interview allows the employee to talk about any negative experiences concerning the employer, managers, or co-workers. If there was any inappropriate conduct in the workplace, it gives the employer the opportunity to address and resolve them with the departing employee and to correct the problems so that other workers won’t have to face them in the future.

If the worker brings up compensation or benefits compliance issues, the employer might be able to rectify those issues, depending on the validity of the claim. It’s typically better for everyone involved if these problems can be resolved before the employee walks out the door, and shares their experience with others.

Exit Interviews Ultimately Reduce Turnover

Any question that helps discover the reasons for high employee turnover makes a good exit interview question. Here are a few that work:

  • How was your overall experience here?
  • Can you make any suggestions for improving things?
  • Where did we come up short?
  • What could we have done to make you stay?
  • What is your new employer giving you that we didn’t?
  • In what ways does your new job help you meet your career goals?
  • Would you like us to stay in contact and inform you of future opportunities?

Why Do So Many Employers Avoid Exit Interviews?

Given the close relationship between management and workers in smaller companies, exit interviews are often uncomfortable. People don’t want to burn their bridges, so they are very reluctant to provide honest criticism. So, instead of telling the interviewer that their boss was a jerk, they’ll give some less offensive reason such as higher pay or better benefits.

If an exit interview is going to be beneficial, departing workers must feel like they can speak freely. Sometimes adding a written follow-up interview will get them to relax and be more honest in their responses.

If Done Properly, Exit Interviews Can Stimulate Change

If you keep records of what workers say at the exit interviews, you can find patterns that can help you work on reducing employee turnover. For instance, if a high percentage of departing workers are complaining about the health insurance coverage, you could talk to other carriers to find out how you can improve it.

No matter why one of your workers is leaving, you should conduct an exit interview to discuss the company’s and the employee’s rights and obligations. The interview lets the worker know that you value their feedback, and the information gleaned from it can turn into an agent of change. While exit interviews should definitely not be the only touch-base occurring between employees and upper management (“stay” interviews and quarterly follow-ups are also great ideas), they can be an integral part of culture improvement.

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