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Exit Interview Surveys

You're experiencing high turnover. Employees are quitting. Do you really know why employees leave your company? Do you have a system in place to talk candidly with departing employees?*

Our experience has shown most employers are extremely surprised when presented the results of an Exit Interview Survey. Exit interviews are a good source for information on the causes of turnover. No employee should be allowed to terminate without an honest exit interview.

Many managers resist taking time for exit interviews, because they find the exiting employees a little hesistant to speak their minds. In any case the exit interview done by someone other than the direct supervisor provides better information. Doing this also helps to place the ex-employee more at ease with the process and removes any hint of threat.

Contrary to popular belief, most past employees completing an exit interview process do not use it to provide inaccurate or exaggerated information. While a few disgruntled individuals will be negative for spiteful reasons, many people welcome the opportunity to present valuable feedback in a straight forward manner - if - this is very important - if the questions are presented to them in a confidential, positive, objective manner.
Phone, mail or both may be used to conduct exit interviews. In all cases, it must be stressed that the information provided by the past employee will be kept strictly confidential.

You may uncover internal personnel/payroll department (MIS) problems when formulating a list of past employees (over the last 12 months). We have found that many companies' information database is not accurately and timely updated which presents problems when assembling a past employee roster. If you find and rectify this problem... you're already "miles ahead" in improving the service of your operation. Considering federal wage/tax payroll filing requirements, inaccurate records could present many problems for your organization in the future.

We suggest implementing a policy for exit interviews to be conducted within 90 days of an employee's departure.

While timely information is much more valuable, especially if a theme of issues surface, sometimes it is much easier to gather information once some time has passed. Often, the intervening time removes any hesistancy to be honest. Additionally, when the interviews occur around 90 days, individuals give a pretty accurate appraisal of their employment experience.

The primary purpose of the exit interview has always been to help settle any unresolved or outstanding issues between both the employer and employee. Asking questions directly helps determine the actual reasons for the individual's resignation. Because employees usually do not want to burn any bridges back to the organization, it is important to sincerely explain that the purpose of the interview is to help improve the workplace and therefore truthful answers about their reasons for leaving will be the most helpful in this improvement process.

By taking this positive approach to exit interviews, many ex-employees are willing to point at deficiencies in the company, i.e., "poor management or supervision," "complete lack of supervison and support," "poor communication," etc.

Armed with this sort of information an organization can make an honest appraisal about itself and use this information to make corrections where appropriate.

It is important to remember that some employees move on for very legitimate reasons related to their tenure with your organization. They could be making changes in job interests, or they might be moving out of the area, or any number of other legitimate reasons.

On occasion we have seen employees who have had work-issues for several months, which he or she could not resolve, and remained quiet about the difficulties. In the end, they decided that it was better to "switch than to fight." Depending on the issues, there are occasions where a good employee might see fit to return if situations change. An exit interview might be one way to leave that door open.

Exit Interviews should be voluntary. The information collected must be disseminated only to those who need to know. The ex-employee should be made aware that information will remain confidential and where appropriate might be used to improve the organization's understanding about itself, which could lead to changes in the organization itself.

* May include transferred or promoted positions.