When an employee leaves a company for any reason, the first reaction of the employer might be to place all of their focus on hiring a replacement to minimize work flow disruption.
While this might solve the short-term problem, the information gained from conducting an exit interview with the departing employee might uncover internal issues that, if addressed and resolved, could increase your rate of success in hiring his/her replacement and improve the overall corporate culture.
The quality of your employee exit process is significant, as it may leave a positive or negative impact on the reputation and brand of your company for years to come.
Your brand stands for more than how you market your organization to your customer; it is also communicated through your current and former employees. They represent the integrity of your company. Implementing the right protocol will likely positively impact everyone.
Positive options your company may consider:
Implement a corporate policy to address exiting employees. Failing to do so can leave the employee, and their co-workers, with negative feelings about the organization. Regardless of the reason for the employee’s departure, it is important that the exit is acknowledged and addressed with co-workers, to minimize any concerns regarding job security and the future of the department. You can create a systematic approach to collect and analyze any patterns or themes from the exit interview and related conversations. This will help to implement strategies to increase retention and reduce turnover.
Conduct the exit interview and listen. This is an opportunity for your company to learn about and improve daily practices, corporate culture, and reputation. The interview may help to uncover issues with working conditions, benefits, relationships with co-workers, goals, and the company’s commitment to quality.
Develop a consistent financial policy for the organization, and offer a prepaid outplacement service. This garners goodwill with the former employee, and sends a positive message to current employees about the quality and commitment of the organization.
How to Ensure the exit interview is productive, not defensive:
Have a neutral third party conduct the interview. This can encourage the employee to be more open and honest. It’s important to remain as objective as possible, which can be difficult for a manager or an HR professional from within the organization. If the interviewer becomes defensive, the employee is less likely to share any negative feedback about the company and its employees – information that could be beneficial to the organization in its future planning.
Sometimes it is more constructive to conduct the exit interview after the employee’s departure, in an effort to gain a more objective perspective. Contacting a former employee at least a month after their departure gives both the employer and the former employee time to improve clarity.
Remember, in any point in life, and for any reason, change is difficult. An employer’s responsibility to act with professionalism and encourage strength in his or her employees is never terminated. A professional separation, handled well, will be a learning experience that both parties can benefit from in their professional endeavors.