Maybe you are happy a low performing employee is finally on their way out. Maybe you’re sorely disappointed your star employee is going to work for a competitor. Maybe you didn’t see this one coming or maybe you’ve expected it for a while. When an employee prepares to leave your organization you should be preparing for the exit interview.
More than eighty percent of organizations conduct exit interviews with employees according to the 2015 Agribusiness HR Review. For obvious reasons of course, you don’t know what you don’t know. Furthermore, you can’t create a better work environment if you are unaware of the problems that exist. You also can’t support and protect specific items that contribute to employee engagement if you are unaware of what those are. Regardless if your turnover rate is half a percent or 30 percent, an exit interview is a prime discovery opportunity for the company. Much can be gained from your employee’s thoughts and reflection on their experience while employed with you. There is value in learning from any employee how you may improve operations, culture, leadership, etc. Capturing and documenting feedback can be a first step in helping influence much needed change.
As you prepare, setup a time when you can meet with the employee away from distractions and somewhere that provides privacy to talk openly. Make your employee comfortable and explain your objectives in conducting the exit interview – you want to better your organization through the fact finding process. Keep questions objective to help your employee identify true noteworthy comments for what really matters. You want to avoid provoking the employee into a spiraling rant but if a rant is what you get, listen and make note of the source of the issue(s). This isn’t the time to debate issues but rather a chance to listen and learn.
If you ask questions that can be answered yes or no, include a follow up to ask why. It may be helpful to construct similar questions that you ask slightly different to thoroughly understand and uncover your employee’s thought process or experience. Customize questions to the employee. If the employee has been a high performer, seek to understand more about what you could have done to retain them, what were their expectations when they started with the organization, what went wrong, what opportunity could you have afforded them that may have made a difference. If the employee has not been successful within the organization ask for some open dialogue around why this was the case.
Topics you may consider reviewing might include any or all of the following: the work environment (morale, culture, and structure), job responsibilities, expectations as an employee, communication, team dynamics, supervisor, policies, satisfaction of compensation benefits, in addition to details about the employee’s new job opportunity, if there is one. You should also take time to learn if the employee observed any illegal activity on the job or the occurrence of workplace violations.