Exit interviews are common because they’re considered a formal part of out-processing. But it’s understandable that exiting employees would be fearful of saying too much or the wrong things. They rely on their managers for a good reference, so they may avoid exit interviews entirely.
Why are Exit Interviews Important?
From coming up with internal recruitment strategies to decreasing employee morale, HR has a lot on its plate when an employee decides to leave. However, putting time and resources into an interview can be the secret to improving your workplace, available talent, and overall profits.
When done right, exit interviews show that you’re making a genuine effort to improve. No one knows your company better than the people who work within it. Criticism can be tough to hear, but you can use it to notice unrecognized problems and a possible negative work environment.
Why do Employees Dislike Exit Interviews?
Employees frequently lie in the workplace because they’re afraid others will have an adverse reaction to the truth. There are too many stories of employees being fired or reprimanded for revealing inappropriate or criminal behavior, so staying silent seems like the safest option.
Employees don’t normally quit on good terms. They’re usually leaving because they dislike their boss, see no/little potential for growth, are undervalued, or are offered a better opportunity.
If an employee discussed these grievances with you before quitting, but nothing changed (or they were punished), they’ll wonder why you care now. They’re also seen as a waste of time by HR staff and employees because feedback is rarely used to incite organizational change.
How Can Employers Conduct Great Exit Interviews?
Exit interviews can drastically improve your workplace, but asking better exit interview questions isn’t the answer. You need to build your culture around the offboarding process to succeed.
Create a Culture That Values Change/Innovation
According to the experts at JobSage, growth and inclusion are incredibly valuable to your employees. If your employees don’t feel comfortable being honest, the first step to obtaining valuable feedback is by changing the organization in ways that are backed up by studies.
For example, if some of your employees can work from home, create hybrid or remote working opportunities. This shows you’re paying attention to changes and the needs of your employees.
Prove That Feedback Isn’t a Punishable Offense
Employees are still worried about providing feedback anonymously because they’re afraid it’ll link back to them somehow. However, if an employee does offer helpful/valuable criticism, bring it up in the meeting by saying, “We appreciate the feedback and thank whoever provided it.”
If you then show you’re using that feedback to improve the company, your team will see that their feedback is appreciated. This shows that they won’t be burned for being honest with you.
Be Honest and Transparent With Employees
Honesty is a two-way street. If you want your employees to be honest with you, you need to be honest with them. This means bringing up concerns without needing to be pressed, as not knowing an answer is more detrimental to employee morale than an uncomfortable truth.
For example, if an employee is wondering why they were passed up for a promotion, tell them what they could work on to be considered in the future. Then, help them improve their skills.
Try to Solve Key Problems Before They Leave
If an employee is courageous enough to discuss why they’re unhappy at their job, they should be rewarded with action. Good employees are hard to find. If your employee needs to leave early to pick up their children, letting them do so is a small price to pay for their happiness.
If you aren’t able to make a change, explain why. This shows that you’re listening and that you appreciate that they spoke to you. If they leave for this reason, you eliminate hard feelings.
Give References Based on Their Performance
An exit interview should be considered a safe place for employees to bear their grievances (within reason). If they say something you didn’t like, but they conducted themselves in a professional manner, don’t take out your frustrations when they use you as a reference.
Word travels fast. If a good-performing employee is told they received a bad reference from you, they’ll tell your team members to stay silent. Only give references based on their performance.