An exit interview seems like a nominal task before an employee and employer part ways. But it’s not. There is a valid reason for the formality to be an invariable part of every company’s separation policy. The importance of exit interviews comes to be known when strategic planners and higher-ups in the human resource function sit down to examine the staffing narrative in the long term. The exit interview casts in plain view the reasons for which employees leave some job situations and stay in others. These reasons deserve to be documented and re-examined when CHROs need to strategize retention policies and base their new talent acquisition plans on the basis of past learnings.
Why is the exit interview process delicate?
It naturally springs to the minds of HR specialists who handle retention and talent acquisition that candidates on the way out of an organization don’t have its best interests at the topmost of their priorities. They would be concerned about their future steps, career advancement, or personal situation. Naturally, it falls to the HR functionaries bearing the responsibility of carrying out the exit interview process to see that the formalities are executed with care. That takes skills as well as planning. Effective employee exit interviews uncover the separating employee’s true reasons for leaving, their experience during the tenure with the company, and their plans of joining another company, seeking new skills, or any other plans. It is easy to mark an exit interview as a closed case. It takes deeper interpersonal skills, well-honed judgment of human nature and actions, and employee management skills to conduct the exit interview in such a way that it teaches valuable lessons and contributes to the long-term vision of Staffing.
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How to supercharge employee experience using exit interview inputs
The human resource management process and its outcome are an integrated whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. On the face of it, exit interviews are just small inputs in the entirety of the data collected by the HR team over the years. But when carried out with the due process, asking the right questions, and listening for the right takeaways by reading between the lines can nudge eminently usable insights from each exit interview. It is like a well-designed feedback form given at the right time. Why? It’s because exiting employees are at a stage where they can freely share their opinions. They need not worry about their future at the company based on what they say. The fact that they can speak freely and help the future of the company needs to be established by the interviewer.
A feedback form or questionnaire on various aspects of employee experience can be elicited from the exiting employee. Following are few examples:
- Induction: The level of preparedness the organization lent to taking on the job role
- Training and development opportunities: Whether they were held often enough, how detailed and effective they were in helping the employee upskill or plug gaps
- Employee engagement avenues: Whether the employee felt engaged in various aspects of the organization – its public persona, succession planning, and career growth opportunities. Whether they felt that their opinion is heard and taken into consideration in making decisions that affect them and whether they felt they were being treated fairly.
- Job circumstances: Often, a change in the circumstances, constraints, and family-related issues might drive an employee to leave one job and look for another one. Attrition numbers of a division or the entire organization can be parsed and analyzed against the background knowledge of these reasons to get better insights for future hiring.
- Open-ended questions about how much better the workplace can be: This allows employees to share areas that haven’t already been covered in the questionnaire, and come forward with specific grievances/suggestions.
There can be a mix of multiple-choice questions, rating scales, and asking them to describe scenarios or experiences that evoked positive and negative feelings among the employee. This ensures that there are both numerical and non-numerical takeaways from the process. Actionable feedback can be gleaned and put into effect for the benefit of future entrants at the company.
These are mere suggestions for ways to improve employee engagement for the future – something that can be incorporated in the long-term execution of people policies. By no means is this list exhaustive.
Since the importance of exit interviews is high only when the value is compounded over time, the entire exit interview process needs to have consistency. This is why several companies use exit interview templates and use HR generalists or higher-ups to conduct them with great care.
Exit interviews today
Effective employee exit interviews also have to change with time. In the post-pandemic fervor of job switches, uneven, unpredictable growth in certain sectors, and fresh opportunities arising across various geographies, exit interviews evolve to accommodate fresh new aspects.
The definition of perks and compensation are metamorphosing too. Several companies have declared a “remote forever” workforce policy. Making room for mental health-related surveys, wellness-boosting workshops, and family-friendly compensation/leave policies are now part of employee engagement models. It won’t be long before exit interviews show data to support that employees have come to expect them.
Technology, company culture, and skill-upgrade opportunities should be discussed in addition to reasons for leaving the current position.
Finally, the closure and feeling of getting on the same page are essential to all humans. An exit interview should look to provide this both for the employer and employee. Modern exit interview processes will have to follow-up on the humane aspects of parting ways, with no negativity or resentment on either side. In the world of work where networking is the name of the game, burning bridges has to be replaced by respectful exit formalities.
The exit interview is another opportunity for the organization to ensure that the employee carries favorable impressions of the brand. The image of the employer in the job market hinges on the employer being empathetic, dignified, and supportive to the end.
Reference: Exit Interview Template for Conducting Productive Exit Interviews | Digital HR Tech | Andrea Boatman | March 2021
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