Exit Interviews Equal Smart Sleuthing

 In Recruit & Retain


Have you ever heard the saying, “I wish I knew then what I know now?” Well, this client question gives us a sneak peek at what you can learn from an employee today that will make your company a better workplace tomorrow. Exit interviews equal smart sleuthing and smart sleuthing is what this client needs to do. Here’s the scoop…

This question is from Annie. She writes, “Hi ladies. I’m hoping you have some solutions for me to this nagging problem we’re having. Over the last couple of years, we’ve had way too much turnover with our employees and we’re losing time and money training them for a few months, just to see them leave. There may be lots of things we should do, but can you give me a starting point?”

It’s Time For Some Shrewd Investigating!

What a great question! Annie, you’re not alone with this issue. It is interesting that many of you spend loads of time asking the right questions in order to hire the right employee for the right job. But once that same employee leaves, you spend little to NO time asking the right questions to help you gain the insights you need to make sure you are keeping your key employees and making your company a great place to work.

Well it’s time to change that. And one of the first things you can do to get a handle on why employees are leaving is through Exit Interviews.

Most employees, whether they leave on their own, they’re downsized, or even when they’re terminated, are willing to openly discuss their true feelings around their work, the company, and the overall experience they had when they worked there.

So get it while it’s HOT!

Here’s why gathering this information is so important

It can help you to:

  • Identify problems in your policies, management, working conditions, safety, and morale, just to name a few
  • Gauge your competitive advantage (or disadvantage) around things like pay, benefits, time off, culture, etc.
  • Most importantly, gain a better understanding around the real reasons for leaving in order to see if there is something you can do to change things. Sometimes there’s something you can offer to make them stay – if they’re a valued employee of course!

There are times when you will lose valued employees for personal but positive reasons, and it will be sad to see them go. That’s a good thing in a lot of ways.

But then there are times where an employee is disgruntled – a bad seed or a wet blanket and they need to go!

In this case, an exit interview can also give you an opportunity to identify and possibly head off legal actions that can save you lots of headaches.

I know, I know, it seems counter-productive to do an exit interview with someone you’re firing. Of course they’re gonna have a beef with you and the company.

But, as painful as it may seem, if you do it right, you’ll get good intel.

Remember, exit interviews equal smart sleuthing.

6 Points For Effective Exit Interviews

Now, let’s take a look at some important steps you need to take when conducting Exit Interviews.

You need to establish a consistent practice that you put everyone through – whether they’re leaving on good terms or not.

The way to do that is to:

  1. Use a standard exit interview form – this will guide the interview and create a written record (ask all exiting employees to fill out the form)
  2. Do NOT engage in debates or controversy. This is unnecessary and can ruin your objectivity
  3. Remain calm, professional and neutral. Don’t get worked up by an employee’s comments or criticisms. This is the kind of information that can shed some serious light on your work environment so take it all in
  4. Listen actively and let the employee speak but gauge rambling and make sure you keep the interview on track
  5. Keep a watch on body language, facial expressions, and how the employee acts. As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” This may be what tips you off on whether or not you need to escort them out immediately or call security.
  6. Lastly, no matter what is said, close the interview as positively as possible. The employee should walk away with the feeling that they have been heard and they have been treated decently and fairly. This can help to defuse some of the hostility that might otherwise linger or leave the door open for valued employees to reconsider employment now or in the future.

By the way, who should conduct these exit interviews?

This is a great question because it is important that you have the right person doing them. Look for our next article: Exit Interviews Are The Bomb! where we’ll discuss who should be conducting exit interviews and how to structure your questions for the best results.

In the meantime, click on the button below to download a FREE copy of our Exit Interview Guidelines to keep with you during your next employee exit discussion because exit interviews equal smart sleuthing – but only if you do it right.

Guidelines for Conducting Effective Exit Interviews Every Time

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