Exit Interviews: An Autopsy

The notice is in, the papers have been signed, and now you’re down an employee. Though it’s too late to reverse course, you still want to know why this individual opted to leave the company. That’s where the exit interview comes in. It’s your last shot to find out what went wrong, and you want to make it count.

Feedback about an employee’s experience on the job is critical for refining your company’s retention efforts. But how much meaningful information can you gather when that individual already has one foot out the door?

To departing employees, being candid about the choice to leave your company can sometimes feel like a lost cause. Oftentimes, there’s little incentive to engage in an uncomfortable conversation when a new job is already waiting in the wings.

And then there’s the matter of whether or not these individuals felt their feedback was valued to begin with. Did they express their concerns while still employed? If they did, were those issues ever addressed? And if they didn’t, what was the hesitation?

In an exit interview, these insights are key. You may learn the decision had nothing to do with working conditions and everything to do with more a more compelling offer from one of your competitors. Or perhaps it was another reason entirely. Maybe this person felt disconnected from management and simply wanted a change.

Whatever the reason, it’s up to you to incorporate these insights into your employee retention strategy. Your ability to prevent further departures often depends on it.

Don’t Wait to Ask

However, you don’t have to wait until a worker leaves to find out what went wrong. In many scenarios, engaging in honest dialogue with current employees can prevent them from leaving to begin with. You just have to listen and make the most of what you learn.

“An employee retention strategy that relies too heavily on exit interviews is bound to fall short on its potential,” said Max Farrell, WorkHound CEO. “If you engage in regular conversations with your workers about their experiences on the job, you get an opportunity to address their concerns before they decide to leave.”

When you have a distributed workforce and employees start feeling isolated, Farrell explained, being a proactive communicator can make the difference between keeping and losing your talent. But initiating the conversation is just the first step.

“Dialogue without trust is a dead end when it comes to keeping employees happy,” he said. “It’s important to show your workers that their feedback matters in tangible, actionable ways.”

Take this scenario, for example: Say an employee is having trouble enrolling his wife on the company insurance policy and feels he’s getting the runaround from those responsible for helping. Feeling frustrated, he articulates the problem through your company’s employee feedback platform.

This is your opportunity to step in and make him feel heard. Whether the issue is due to an administrative error or simply unclear communications about the policy itself, it’s important to be responsive and admit fault so the worker feels his concern is valid.

And if resolving the issue entirely on the employee’s terms is not a possibility, use this challenge as an opportunity to meet in the middle. A meaningful compromise, even if not ideal, can go a long way in making workers feel valued.

In a competitive labor market, reciprocity is everything. Engaging in open dialogue with your employees is an investment in the future. Successful companies are built on strong teams, and finding the smartest ways to keep them starts now, not later.

WorkHound provides an easy-to-use feedback platform that gives employees a voice. If you’re ready to learn how using our tool could improve the feedback culture at your business or organization, talk with an expert today.

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