“You’re fired, but we’d like your input on the job”

Exit interviews may seem like a pointless exercise to many workers. After all, someone is leaving a company because they think they can do better elsewhere, or because the company thinks they could do better with someone else in the job. Either way, it’s no longer a fit – so why would the soon-to-be-ex-employee’s opinions be considered valuable?

And yet, research shows that companies can greatly benefit from the honest assessments given by employees as they walk out the door.

This research, from staffing firm OfficeTeam, finds that more than six in 10 (63 percent) human resources (HR) managers said their company commonly acts on feedback from exit interviews.

As OfficeTeam puts it, “When asked how they follow up on information gleaned from these meetings, 29 percent of respondents stated they update job descriptions. Another 24 percent address comments about management, while 22 percent make changes to the work environment and 19 percent review employee salaries.”

Clearly, the input of separating employees is valuable. However, there are some “do’s and don’ts” that companies should follow when conducting exit interviews.

OfficeTeam lays them out:

Do time it well. Consider scheduling the meeting on one of the worker’s last days. Keep the conversation brief and professional.

Don’t make it awkward. Because departing employees may be uncomfortable discussing certain subjects with their immediate supervisor, have an HR representative conduct one-on-one meetings in a private setting.

Do cover the right topics. Ask general questions about why the worker is leaving, what the person liked and disliked at the company, and recommendations for improvements.

Don’t get defensive. Avoid correcting or confronting the person. Listen carefully and gather as many details as possible.

Do be upfront. Explain that any information provided can help to better the organization and will be kept confidential.

Don’t brush things off. Give all comments that are shared the proper attention. Also check for patterns in feedback collected from employees, which can signal persistent problems.”

Most of all, don’t get mad and yell at the employee, “we gave you a great job, a competitive salary, a parking pass even – and you repay us by leaving for the competition! You ingrate!”

OK, we added that last one.

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