Exit Interviews: Useful Information Or Too Little, Too Late?

To say the HR world is divided over the value of exit interviews is an understatement. A quick internet search soon returns countless articles both extolling the benefits of gathering constructive feedback and lamenting the drain on an employers time to gather a list of gripes and grumbles from departing staff. Nevertheless, leaver’s interviews are an established practice and can be extremely valuable.

Perhaps then, the issue is more about how you carry out the exit interview and what you do with the information collected. After all, what employer doesn’t want to be efficient and cost-effective with a happy and committed workforce?

Staff turnover is a problem in all businesses. High turnovers can be costly. The time and resources needed to recruit, onboard and train new staff are considerable, and that doesn’t even begin to quantify the cost of the experience you lose from your business when a member of the team leaves.

What’s more, the impact on staff morale can be huge. Depending on communication within the organisation, workers may speculate over the reasons their colleagues move on, and the whole process can deeply unsettle team, and business, dynamics.

Using properly structured exit interviews, conducted by an appropriately trained person, can bring significant benefits to senior managers and business owners. The feedback can help identify if the broader climate in the business is dissatisfied, understand the drivers of someone choosing to leave as well as identify opportunities for positive changes in the future.

Structuring Exit Interviews

Know what you want to achieve from the process.  Set your goals in just the same way you would any other business activity, measure the feedback and act on the results. Using the information from exit interviews effectively, you can identify great opportunities to improve the experiences of future employees.

If you find a common theme emerging from leavers, then you would be wise to heed the warning!

How Should You Interview Your Leavers?

Consider who will carry out the exit interview as well as how and where it will be held. Is it best to hold a face-to-face meeting or would a phone call yield the same results? Will your HR department do this for you? Of course, these decisions may well be influenced, in part, by the size of your organisation.

Who Should Conduct The Exit Interview?

It is often the role of the HR Advisor to undertake exit interviews. Employing a trained professional makes it easier to uncover deep rooted issues or matters an employee may not wish to discuss face to face with their soon to be ex-employer. A professional with training and experience in the process will also possess the skills to deal with potentially emotive or contentious issues in a calm and non-judgemental manner.

If you don’t have an HR department, consider engaging a freelance HR advisor to undertake the process for you.

Taking Action

A wise person once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. While this may be an overused cliché, there is an irrefutable ring of truth in it. If you routinely carry out exit interviews yet fail to act on the findings, how will your business grow and improve?

In the same way an experienced HR professional can benefit you by carrying out exit interviews, they can also support you in identifying and implementing improvement opportunities.

Remember, there will always be some staff that are easier to lose. There may be some that you always expected to spread their career wings. However, there are also those who depart with a depth of knowledge that you just can’t replace!

For more information about how I might be able to help you with exit interviews, why not contact me for an informal chat?


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