When employee turnover occurs, take the opportunity to see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. Exit interviews are a way to garner feedback from an “inside source” regarding how your company is doing and ways it can improve. Take time before an employee departs to sit down and have an honest conversation about his or her experience working with the company. Because, when you ask the right questions and express genuine interest in the employee’s responses, exit interviews can not only be a learning experience for the company, but also a wonderful way to end the employee-employer relationship on a good note.While exit interviews cannot be a mandatory procedure for an employee, those willing to participate can provide great insights and suggestions. Departing employees will most likely be more candid with feedback as their employment status with the company is not on the line. Ask the questions that could really help you grow as a company, such as:

  • What is your primary reason for leaving?
  • What does your new organization offer that this organization doesn’t?
  • Did you receive adequate support and training to do your job effectively?
  • Did any organization policies or procedures (or any other obstacles) make your job more difficult?
  • What could your immediate supervisor do to improve his or her management style?
  • What would you improve to make our workplace better?

Consider giving departing employees a list of questions you want to discuss before the interview takes place so they can give thought to their responses and feel less intimidated. Also, try to make them feel relaxed. Choose a non-threatening environment for the interviews and offer employees a glass of water or mints to keep things casual. The key is to make sure they feel comfortable and that their feedback is being heard.

The feedback you receive from the questions asked in exit interviews can help guide changes within the organization, potentially leading to a lower employee turnover and a better way of conducting business. Keep in mind that employees are doing you a favour by providing their insight. Make each employee feel appreciated by providing a token of gratitude such as a travel tumbler filled with candy, a tin of chocolate-covered pretzels, a logo’d sweatshirt or even an MP3 player as something to remember the company by.

After conducting the exit interview, make sure you use the information gathered to help strengthen your business. Extract the key takeaways and report back to all stakeholders. Discuss how the company can improve upon its strengths and weaknesses.

The next time one of your employees gives their two-week notice, find the silver lining in the situation. You now get the chance to conduct an exit interview that could open your eyes to new possibilities.

Niznik, John S. “Exit Interview Questions.About.com. About.com. Web. 22 Feb. 2012.

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