Who cares what an employee who is leaving a job thinks?  After all, the individual’s opinions do not matter anymore, right?  Wrong.  Feedback from an employee who is departing voluntarily can be extremely valuable, and may provide insight into areas for improvement. 

Below are six tips to help ensure that an exit interview is beneficial for the company: 

  • Choose an appropriate interviewer.  A direct supervisor is rarely a good choice for this role, since a close working relationship can make the employee feel inhibited.  The employee may want to call upon the supervisor for a reference in the future.  Therefore, the interviewer should be a top executive or a human resources representative. 
  • Put the meeting on an official calendar.  Exit interviews should be treated with the importance they merit.  A human resources representative who drops by for an informal chat with a departing employee will not elicit the same kind of results as one who conducts a thorough discussion in a formally scheduled meeting.  Employees will take an interview more seriously if a company demonstrates the importance it places on an exit interview.      
  • Ensure confidentiality. Departing employees are more likely to be forthcoming and honest if comments they provide are not attributed to them by the interviewer.  Obviously, the smaller the company, the more difficult it is to ensure confidentiality, but every effort should be made to do so.    
  • Ask probing questions.  It is important to go beyond questions that require a simple “yes” or “no” response.  Open-ended questions are best.  For example, interviewers should focus on questions about how an employee feels, why an employee feels a certain way, and what an employee thinks about a particular aspect of the company.  If more details are required, then the interviewer should request them.  
  • Share the results with senior management — without compromising privacy.  There is little point in conducting exit interviews if the feedback is not shared with people who can initiate change in company operations and culture.  The interviewer should present results – from individuals or groups, depending on the size of the company – to senior management.  Names should be expunged from the report, and if the company is small, then only general, less detailed comments should be shared.  Again, confidentiality is important.  
  • Take action.  If exit interviews repeatedly yield the same feedback, it is up to senior management to do something about it.  Otherwise, the company may continue to experience turnover or miss an opportunity to correct a shortcoming that affects employee productivity and the bottom line.  In addition, if an exit interview reveals that an employee feels he or she has been treated unfairly because of a protected class, this feedback needs to be shared with human resources representative so that an  investigation can be conducted and appropriate action taken. 

Exit interviews can provide useful insight into what works well at a company and what needs to be improved.  Companies that care about employee retention should make sure that every employee who leaves voluntarily has an exit interview with an appropriate interviewer, and that the results of the interview form the basis not only for discussion, but also for action.

 

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 27 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace.  Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution.  Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services.  Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees.  With 2013 revenues of $2.3 billion, Insperity operates in 57 offices throughout the United States.  For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.