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Conducting Exit Interviews with Dignity

by Jody Ordioni

While turnover is common within every organization, what demarcates a successful company from the rest is the attitude towards exiting employees. Exit interviews can be extremely helpful in understanding where you are going wrong.

What is an Exit Interview?

The onboarding process is the entry point of an employee to the organization but exit interviews can decide whether an employee leaves with bad blood or not. This opportunity should be used to help the employees reflect on their contribution towards the organization. The best time to schedule an exit interview is as soon as the employee turns in the notice. Ideally, it should be scheduled before the last, lest the employee leave earlier than planned. It becomes difficult to connect with employees once they have left the organization. Dedicate a specific time to engage them in a meaningful conversation, so that the process doesn’t feel rushed.

What is the Objective of an Exit Interview?

An exit interview should be able to collect data and feedback from the employees which can be analyzed later. To achieve this raw information, the interview should be focused and the questions should be prepared beforehand. Providing an analysis of recurring themes from aggregated data can point out the faults within the company structure.

You can pointedly ask whether leaving employees feel that there are not adequate advancement opportunities within the company. our study finds out that only 32% employees are satisfied with advancement opportunities in their place of work and only 37% are satisfied with training and learning opportunities. Exit interviews are most effective when they are positive and honest, at both ends. Exit interviews don’t have to be negative, rather they should aim to understand the complexity of the experience of employees within the company. The feedback should touch upon each aspect of the employee’s experience, even the things which worked well to keep them happy while working.

Off-Limit Topics

While the thrust should be to gain informative insight, there are certain topics pertaining to an employee’s right to privacy that are off the table. Exit interviews should be focused on the leaving employees only and not be a means to discuss the private life of other employees. While an informal setting might allow for better understanding, it should not cross the line that are inherently applicable in a professional setting. Avoid questions that are leading or point out to an employee in particular, especially if there are any negative assertions that are being made against them. While problems that are prominent amongst co-workers should be openly discussed, an interviewer should not prompt or provoke an employee to name a specific name.

Assessing the Feedback

Once all the exit interviews have taken place, certain patterns will start becoming clear. It is important to recognize both positive and negative patterns. It is important to take immediate action if problems such as harassment, discrimination, illegal practices etc. are mentioned. It doesn’t matter if the victim has left the organization, corrective measures benefit the culture and image of the organization.

The feedback collected during exit interviews is imperative to bettering the company culture. Use the criticism to construct a culture that removes all hindrances from the path of the employees. it can also help in increasing retention rate in the future.

The Bottom Line

Low unemployment and high demand for talent are responsible for building a recruitment atmosphere that fluctuates according to the will of the employees. Job hopping is becoming a practice and thus, it is important to identify and develop that which positively impact the employees. Employees who are leaving can, at times, reveal perspectives that are advantageous.

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