Exit Interviews are interviews that are conducted when an employee is leaving the business. From an employer's perspective, the main aim of exit interviews is to try and understand more about the reasons behind the employee deciding to leave. Exit interviews provide the employee with the opportunity to explore their experience of working for the company, share insight into what the company did well and reveal what could be improved upon (in their opinion). As a result of their impending ‘exit’, employees who take part in these interviews are much more honest and open to offering suggestions for improvements than those who remain in the organisation.
Yet so few organisations commit to making exit interviews a compulsory part of an employee exit process. For a busy manager, it can feel like yet another meeting to attend, and one which adds little value to the company given that the employee is leaving. However, by meeting with your employee one final time, you can ensure that lessons are learnt for both the organisation’s benefit and that of current and future employees. It also gives the employer a vital opportunity to leave the relationship with their employee on a positive note.
Implementing exit interviews
So how do you go about ensuring that exit interviews take place, that there is real value achieved from the conversation and that any useful information is logged, monitored and actioned upon?
First, allow the employee to make the decision as to who will conduct their interview. If the business dictates that the line manager holds the meeting, you must identify the pros and cons of this arrangement.
The benefits will surely be that the employee has a good history of speaking on a personal level to their line manager and will feel comfortable in speaking with them about the good and the bad of their employee experience.
What happens when the line manager himself is the cause of the bad experience for the employee? A potential issue in this instance is that the exit interview fails to provide an accurate picture of what it is like to work for your organisation, and instead becomes a pointless situation which no one truly commits to, and from which little is learned.
The key to success in exit interviews is to allow the employee to meet with someone who is seen to be impartial within your organisation: the director of the department the employs works in, the chief executive, or a HR representative. Each of these individuals can offer the employee an opportunity to speak their mind without the risk of offending anyone.
In addition, you must make exit interviews mandatory if you are to get an accurate picture of how it feels to be employed by your organisation in each and every department.
What should you ask at an exit interview?
These conversations provide a great opportunity to discuss:
- The reason for leaving
- Their feelings around the company benefits package
- Their job satisfaction levels
- The opportunities for progression open to them
- Their experience of working under management
The range of potential questions is huge, but by using these as a starting point, and asking employees to share where they are on a spectrum between “highly satisfied” to “highly dissatisfied”, employers can really start to highlight any opportunities for improvement.
Launching the process to all staff, explaining that it will be used to measure employee experience, and ensuring that all employees have an exit interview when they leave will ensure a consistent approach across your business.
By analysing responses, truly valuable information is gathered which can then feed into policy change and management training initiatives. However, in launching the exit interview process, you must ensure that your business is truly committed to improving the employee experience in your organisation, and that all managers are prepared to receive honest feedback that will enable them to target issues if they should arise.