An exit interview is an interview conducted with departing employees, right before they leave. The meeting generally takes place between at least one representative of the company’s human resources department and a departing employee. The employee could be departing after having resigned or getting laid off or fired.
An exit interview constitutes a great way to determine the real reasons why an employee is departing. However, in most of the cases the information collected is not put to use. The reason might be, as insightlink.com describes, that organizations are not recognizing the value of “a systematic approach to collecting information from exiting employees.”
A systematic approach to exit interviews can allow an organization to impact its productivity levels, employee engagement, and turnover rates, thanks to the insights that may be gathered through the interview process which can allow the employer to make the pertinent adjustments to the company’s operations, culture, and design. In this way, the company can better engage employees and thus reduce turnover.
A systemic approach includes:
- Gathering and collecting the data in a structured manner
- Aggregating the results for the organization as a whole
- Analyzing the findings to identify consistent trends, patterns, and themes
- Using the results to determine and implement strategies to increase retention and reduce turnover
The optimum way to carry out an exit interview is through third parties who can gather information from departing employees in a more effective and efficient manner than the internal in-person interview. A web-based method may also be useful for this process.
Some principles for a successful exit survey system state that the system should be:
- Universal – interviewing all voluntary departures provides a more complete understanding of turnover.
- Standardized – using a core set of consistent questions ensures comparability throughout the organization and across time.
- Comprehensive – including feedback on the work environment in addition to reasons for leaving increases usefulness in determining strategies to reduce turnover.
- Independent – minimizing the discomfort in revealing the true reasons for leaving improves the reliability of the results.
- Available – encouraging centralized access to the findings increases the likelihood of taking action.
- Monitored – setting targets for reduction in turnover through planned strategies helps to ensure that the investment made in exit surveys is put to its maximum use.
Whichever system or method is chosen, carrying out exit interviews must be seen as a means to obtain valuable information while remembering that the data gathered might not be fully transparent as departing employees won’t always spell out all their real reasons out of fear of retaliation in the future.
The most important aspect that employers must highlight to departing employees is that there will be no such retaliation, and that references will be kept to minimal data probably through an automated system. When departing employees feel the information they provide won’t fire back, they are more likely to provide useful insights that can help the company grow and make the proper adjustments.