Organizations typically expend a great deal of resources to attract, hire and retain personnel who posses the knowledge and skills key to a position. Furthermore, each individual must be well-suited to the organization as a whole. In many cases, however, a new employee just doesn’t fit. Additionally, organizations often lose long-term employees for no apparent reason.
The exit interview is a valuable technique for identifying resolvable issues that can new and long-term employees to seek opportunities elsewhere. To be meaningful, however, exit interviews must be conducted in an environment where departing employees feel comfortable sharing the real reasons for leaving. In most organizations, exit interviews are conducted by those members of the human resources department who are perceived as credible, neutral parties.
Typical exit interviews include questions such as: What is your primary reason for leaving? Did anything trigger your decision to leave? What did you like best or least about your job?
The challenge of conducting a useful exit interview is in obtaining the real reason behind an employee’s decision to leave the organization. The most common response received when an individual is asked why he or she is leaving is, “For more money.” If you hired well to begin with, you would expect the employee to make more in a subsequent job. However, what motivated the employee to start looking in the first place? It may take a little digging but you need to discover the determining factor for the decision to leave. In most cases, employees leave because of relationships, work environment, non-competitive pay and benefits or other tangible reasons. The ability of an organization to identify why people are leaving determines its ability to take action to address those issues. Many times interviewees are reluctant to share information if their reason for leaving is due to poor leadership. If poor leadership is the problem, exit interviews may help develop enough information to pinpoint significant management issues and provide the means to take action. If the results of the exit interviews indicate that work environment or pay and benefits as factors, the organization can implement needed changes. The challenge for any organization is to recognize trends or issues before they become serious problems. In far too many cases, organizations attempt to treat the symptoms rather than solve the real problem.
Excessive employee turnover can weaken a company and impede growth. Moreover, it is often indicative of much deeper problems within the organization. Exit interviews can reveal underlying areas of concern within an organization, and provide management with the resources to effect the necessary changes before the problems spiral out of control. Exit interviews, if done well, may take time, but can pay huge returns to the organization.