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Planning an Exit Interview? Here are Some Tips Hardest thing for most of the people but an essential part of the corporate culture

By Payal Sondhi

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Heard the expression "Most employees quit their boss and not their job'? Exit interview is the apt way of understanding the reasons behind an employee leaving which will help in developing a strategy for employee retention. Let's look at a roadmap for planning a right exit interview, this includes the reasons behind the exit, the questions to ask and the actions to follow.

Reasons: -

1. Lack of confidence: An employer's vision is a base for the organization's growth and if an employee loses confidence in it, she/he chooses to leave. The HR needs to check whether it's a macro or a micro issue and accordingly define the actions towards working on it. Macro can be because of recent key changes or pivots that weren't explained or weren't aligned with the value system of the organization. Understanding this will help you in clearing up the apprehensions that is affecting the employer's goodwill and retaining other employees too who might be considering leaving as well for the same reason.

2. Less opportunities: A good employee has a single point focus – personal growth aligned with the organization's growth. And if she/he feels there is a lack of opportunity there, they will not hesitate to leave. An exit interview will help you in retaining an employee of this calibre and if not atleast the feedback received will help in formulating solutions to retain the other good employees in the organization. Understand one thing, an employee of this kind has always been an asset to the company, even if you are unable to make them stay; their feedback will still help the organization for better.

3. Workplace Culture: Many a times an employee leaves due to the issues within the workplace. Now these issues might be related to the reporting manager's working methods or they might be work culture related, however, they still fall in to the HR mandate and need to be resolved. HR needs to be very careful while asking questions pertaining to these two areas as the idea is not to place the blame on anyone (manager or other employees), the intention here is to understand the crux of the problem, finding a solution to it and keeping things cordial at the same time, for the current and the exiting employee, both.

Now let's look at few questions that you need to ask to capitalize on the exit interview and also a mandatory checklist that needs to be followed in the process.

Questions: -

  • Why are you leaving us?

  • How has your overall experience been with the organization and your team?

  • On a scale of 1-10, what has been your growth level in your whole tenure with us

  • What do you think are your major milestones in the organization?

  • Do you receive enough job training?

  • Did you receive support and feedback from the management?

  • Do you feel your opinions and feedback were valued by your team and the management?

  • Which policies or processes you feel made your work difficult?

  • Which areas do you believe in the organization needs improvement? Give three specific ones

  • Why do you prefer your new job over this one? If you already have an offer letter, what is it different that they are giving that we don't?

  • Would you recommend working with us to a friend?

  • Any comments or feedback you have for us

Checklist: -

Although most of these clauses are a part of the offer letter, it's better to cross verify them.

1. Employee Agreements/Policies: An HR manager should review the applicable employment agreement, confidentiality policy and the restrictive covenant agreement especially when the resignation comes as a surprise. The manager should be upfront and transparent with the exiting employee on the compliance of post-employment restrictions. He should also make it clear that the organization will enforce its contractual and common law rights if necessary.

2. Confidential Information: The HR manager should ensure that all possible confidential documents are handed over by the employee before they leave, this could be hard copies and also information on their cell phone and personal laptop. It is also important to disconnect the employee's access to the company's system a few days before his leaving, this is to ensure that all the important/data is collected beforehand.

3. Pre-Resignation Conduct: This is a very important step of an exit interview. The manager should inquire the exiting employee's conduct before they submitted their resignation, this will help determine if any important information has been shared outside or not. This will assist at the time of an exit interview in evaluating if there is any major loss/risk involved in respect to company information or clients.

Experts say that the best time to conduct an exit interview is halfway between the resignation submitted and the actual departure date, this is before the employee has checked out mentally. Do not hold it till the last week especially the last day as you need to make it productive and for that you need the employee to participate equally. Let's move an exit interview beyond a protocol to follow? Let's create it into an opportunity to gather information to help protect confidential information, goodwill, client relationships, and strengthen relationships with the existing employees.

Payal Sondhi

Manager - Human Resources, SILA

Payal Sondhi is the Human Resources Manager at SILA.
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