Integral to the off-boarding process, research from Burke Inc. shows that 91% of Fortune 500 companies conduct exit interviews.
There are a range of benefits associated with exit interviews; from employee retention and reduced recruitment to turnover costs and future workplace training. While this is might be an uncomfortable meeting for both sides, the exit interview can be an opportunity for HR business partners to gain honest feedback on the business. Not only does what you say in this interview help an employee with their future career, but their response can also help to improve your working environment.
Planning an exit interview? With these five best practice tips, you’ll conduct your next interview flawlessly.
Tip 1: Think about your environment
It may be tough to create a warm environment for an exit interview. However, your meeting room of choice is worth paying close attention to. A bright open space can create a more open environment and feel less intimidating. In addition, it’s important to check for any unwanted distractions. For example, putting your Slack on mute or closing your laptop shows the employee you are there to listen.
This simple preparation will show that you have thought about the impact of this meeting on your employee. Equally, if this interview is being held virtually or by phone, ensure that you are free of distractions or background noise; from beginning to end, it’s important that your employee feels like they are being heard.
Tip 2: Consider your questions
Do you use the same questions for all employees, across all roles in your company?
How recently were they reviewed and updated?
Most importantly, do these questions create a meaningful result from the exit interview itself?
It’s worth asking yourself all of these questions ahead of conducting the interview. You may decide it’s best to stick to a standard survey or script for these interviews. Or you may want your questions to reflect the specific context of your employee’s role; time spent working for the company should also be considered. For example, you may want to factor in some questions to better understand how something like the pandemic continues to impact your workforce. You can also be direct in asking for feedback on things you are already trying to improve, such as company culture or flexible working.
Tip 3 – Highlight the confidential nature of the interview
An employee may hesitate to provide genuine feedback if they are unsure about how it will be shared. To avoid this uncertainty, ensure that they know that their feedback will be anonymous, and always dealt with confidentially. Their feedback should lead to honest reflection, and potentially activate change within your company culture. At the same time, they should feel confident that they won’t be personally linked to their response.
After all, not all employees leave for companies forever; you may find some wishing to return without worrying about their previous exit interview. It’s important to explain that any feedback shared won’t affect their references or future career movements, however things pan out.
Tip 4 – Show support
If an employee is leaving to pursue an exciting opportunity, celebrate their achievement even though you may feel the loss to your team! This may feel awkward at first, but ultimately this person has invested their time and energy into your company. For this reason, showing your gratitude and respecting that they have chosen to move on will go a long way.
On the other hand, we know this won’t be possible for all exit interviews. Instead, it could be that you’re parting ways with an employee who didn’t align with your company culture, or simply wasn’t fulfilling the job requirements. In this situation, you can still exchange some kind words about what went well and most importantly, offer them a supportive parting process.
Tip 5 – Act on the feedback
While this may seem straightforward, this is perhaps one of the most complex parts of the process! It’s important to think carefully, not only regarding the feedback gained from an individual interview, but also how this correlates with other exit interview data you have gained in the past.
What is this information telling you and how can you best act on it?
The results may lead you to some clear short-term actions, or they may require longer-term investments within various aspects of your company. This information can be factored into your strategic objectives and anonymously shared with the appropriate members of your business if need be. You may even want to schedule regular check-ins to ensure that this feedback is being implemented, and not forgotten.
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