Employers: Are You Taking Advantage Of Key Learning Opportunities in the Exit Interview?

The exit interview offers employers an ideal opportunity to gain insight on ways to improve employee retention. However, it’s likely you aren’t taking full advantage of the insight employees offer when leaving your organization. You may simply not know how to translate the input gained into meaningful actions that are valued by your workforce. The information candidly provided during the exit interview has the potential to help you make changes within your organization that will positively impact your employees for years to come. Read on to discover ways employers can avoid missing key learning opportunities during the exit interview. Making a few adjustments in your approach and follow up activities can lead to improved employee retention and overall corporate culture. 

Treat the Employee’s Feelings as Valid

It’s tempting to receive an exiting staff member’s opinions and feelings with suspicion or doubt. You may feel the person is overreacting or is simply disgruntled, leading you to discount their words. However, you may be surprised to see a pattern of similar complaints if you were to analyze the date from previous exit interviews. It’s important to listen to each person during the exit interview and to give validity to their opinion. If you want to reduce animosity that could taint the interview, try to intercede by checking in with the employee sometime prior to the exit interview or schedule your final questionnaire after a significant cooling off period has occurred. You could always conduct a follow-up outreach at a later date.

Explore Options to Encourage Employee Sharing

Employees can be quite reticent when it comes to sharing their true feelings during exit interviews. They don’t want to risk receiving a poor reference or burning bridges within the industry. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your interview format. It’s okay to give up some control in order to increase your chances of receiving honest employee feedback. An easy way to do this is to hire a neutral, outside party to conduct the exit interview. You could also allow employees to complete an online questionnaire upon leaving. Anonymity and not having to face an employer representative during discussions allow workers to be more honest and forthcoming regarding their feelings. 

Take the Process Seriously

It’s common to view the exit interview as a mere formality. When this happens, you may not take the process seriously. It’s easy to forget that this experience can actually be used as a valuable tool to improve the workplace. It may be time for key players to meet in order to determine specific information you wish to be gleaned from exit interviews, along with strategies for utilizing that information constructively. You’ll want to treat the exit interview as seriously as you do the hiring process. Have a protocol in place to ensure consistency. Be sure to set up a date and time for the interview well in advance. Take notes so you are prepared to follow up on the information by capturing the data in a spreadsheet for future analysis. Having a procedure in place and treating the exit interview as an important learning opportunity are a good start to changing a negative mindset surrounding the process. 

Consider All the Possibilities

The term “exit interview” has a distinct air of finality to it. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. An open-minded administration can encourage opportunities for communication with employees prior to the exit interview in which it may be possible to reconcile relationships, discover a compromise or solve previously unknown problems. An employee resignation doesn’t always have to be final. If you value the worker and are open to all possibilities, you may be able to retain a capable and worthy staff member. 

Following these tips will help you on your way to gaining the most insight and potentially useful information from the exit interview process. Remaining open to the possibility of learning from even the most disgruntled employee and having a procedure in place for using that information to influence future practice will ensure that you don’t miss valuable learning opportunities during future exit interviews.