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The Value of Conducting Exit Interviews

At Execu|Search, we appreciate the value of an exit interview.  While occasionally awkward, these interviews provide unclouded information about your company and can be a valuable resource for organization improvement.  “When helping our clients find great placements, it’s extremely helpful for us to know why the person who previously filled the role left, or didn’t work out.  This way, we can help you improve employee retention by understanding the challenges of the role and finding the right person,” explains Jennifer Nyman, a Director at The Execu|Search Group.   For those companies that don’t already conduct exit interviews, consider the following benefits you can expect to gain from implementing an exit interview process.

  1. Honesty. A departing employee has less to lose than a currently employed one, and perhaps will be more candid with his or her interviewer about the company’s weaknesses.  This way, you can determine possible threats to talent retention and eliminate them.
  2. Number crunching.  While it’s not possible to address every little issue an employee brings up in an exit interview, the results provide fantastic data for tracking trends.  This way, you can see who is leaving and why, and adjust your company policies accordingly to increase employee retention.  For example, if female employees are leaving because they are new mothers and need more flexible hours, this is an issue you can address through policy change.
  3. Information transfer. Often, a departing employee has vital information and contacts that make his or her job easier and more successful.  More often than not, these employees are willing to share that information when asked, perhaps by providing a contact list or by training new staff.
  4. There’s more than one way to interview.  If you feel like your business can’t afford to perform exit interviews, consider your options. While face-to-face interviews trump all, online and written exit interviews are also effective in eliciting a response.
  5. Relationship building.  No one wants to leave a job on a sour note, especially if they might need a recommendation somewhere down the road.  An exit interview provides the opportunity to tie up loose ends and part on a congenial note.

Exit interviews are crucial to the efficacy of any business.  While it’s equally as important to ask your current employees how to make their work experience better, departing employees provide a unique perspective that shouldn’t be overlooked.   Jennifer even suggests asking current employees, ‘If you were going to leave, why?’  “A company that makes itself vulnerable to criticism for the sake of its employees comes off as humble, reflective, and sensitive to employee needs—all of which fosters honesty and a healthy company culture.”

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