The value of exit interviews



The value of effective exit interviews

Employees sometimes leave their positions. It’s a commercial reality for employers. Not all businesses take the time to find out why the employee is leaving, however.

Knowing the reasons why an employee has opted to leave your organisation can be valuable information for employers and this is why it makes good business sense to carry out exit interviews.


What is an exit interview?

The most effective way to gather this key information from departing employees is to conduct an exit interview before an employee leaves your business.

The exit interview is an informal meeting which takes place between the departing employee and their line manager, or sometimes, a more senior manager. It is best to hold the exit interview on the employee’s last working day.


Keep it informal

As the meeting is informal, the employee does not enjoy the right to be accompanied by a co-worker or trade union representative at it. However, you may wish to allow an employee to be accompanied by a co-worker to make them feel as comfortable possible.

While the meeting should be informal, it is a good idea to keep written minutes of the issues that are discussed. These can be taken by the manager, or by a separate note-taker. Some organisations develop an exit interview form to be completed by the parties in the meeting as an alternative to taking minutes.


Try to establish the reasons the employee chose to leave

The purpose of the exit interview is to establish if the employee had any specific issues or concerns that influenced or informed their decision to leave.

Where a specific concern is identified, it allows the employer to take steps to investigate and remedy a workplace problem they may not have been aware of.

As your workplace eliminates issues that frustrate employees, your employee retention rate, staff morale and absence rates are all likely to improve.


Common reasons for leaving


If the employee is leaving because s/he has been offered a similar job, but with a better salary, you may need to review the salary packages you offer your staff.


If the employee is leaving because s/he has been offered a similar job on a similar salary, but with additional benefits, you may need to review your benefits packages – for instance, those relating to sick pay, maternity/adoptive/paternity pay, health insurance, flexi-time or other flexible or family-friendly working arrangements.

Procedural issues

If the employee is leaving because s/he has an issue with an aspect of the job, or with company policy, procedure, or contractual requirement, you may need to review that job role, policy, procedure or requirements.

Interpersonal issues

If the employee is leaving because s/he has been experiencing difficulties with a co-worker or manager, you ought to investigate the matter and take remedial steps, if necessary.


Using exit interview feedback

You may not be in a position to implement changes based on exiting employee feedback if it is not reasonable and legitimate to do so. The process of undertaking the review is nevertheless beneficial from an operational perspective.

Most employees will be leaving for their own reasons, such as changing their career path, retirement, a need to work in a less demanding role, or a desire to come out of the workplace completely.

Having this information is still valuable, as you will be reassured that the employee had no concerns with their employment.


Remind departing employees of their contractual obligations

As well as being an information gathering exercise, the exit interview represents an opportunity to remind departing employees of any contractual obligations relating to restrictive covenants, confidentiality or intellectual property. If the employee is in possession of company property, how such property is to be returned should be discussed with the employee before the exit interview.


Thank the employee for their service

Finally, the exit interview provides you with an opportunity to thank your employee for his/her service to your organisation and to conclude the employment relationship in a positive manner.


Need help with exit interviews?

Please contact the advice line on +353 1 886 0350 to speak with a consultant on this or any HR issue affecting your organisation.


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