Exit Interviews are usually not perceived as pleasant interactions – some people view it as a venting exercise, some adopt an “advisory” approach of providing solutions to the issues they faced and a lot of people are usually indifferent!
So as an HR practitioner, it can be very frustrating to try and gather data or meaning from these discussions and try to link it to actual root causes for employee attrition. Have you ever thought of making a slightly different sort of list of what you want to achieve out of this discussion from an exiting employee? If yes, you are ahead of most others! If not, here are some pointers which might help and here I’d like to use my favorite sentence--this is an indicative list, not an exhaustive one!
- The most obvious one - Reasons for leaving the firm. Of course, employees have a standard response to this that they come prepared with, but the onus is on you to make sure that you ask questions that make the employee give clear and specific answers instead of a whole lot of subjective information on what didn’t work well. Also, employees are hesitant to share negative feedback – whether it is due to the fear of confrontation or lack of belief that the feedback will have any impact. You have a hugely challenging task of creating a sense of trust in an already disillusioned employee!
- HR needs to find some answers, but it also needs to understand the thought process of an exiting employee…So probe sensitively about how the individual arrived at the decision to leave the firm. This will help you reach the core of the actual issue and manage attrition in a more focused manner.
- Try to also collect the positives,the optimistic thoughts from such interviews even if those seem rare to come by – Perhaps names of supportive managers/peers, high potential team members and so on. Agreed that this could be very subjective and perception driven, but then so are a whole lot of other things related with people! This information will come in handy to anticipate where your strength lies and how to anticipate any exits of the key employees.
- Collect feedback for HR, too. Actually, the exit interview should allow an employee to share his or her thoughts on how and when the HR’s involvement could have helped prevent the exit. This also covers getting the employee’s thoughts on what interventions make sense to them and what didn’t have any impact on their motivation/engagement levels.
The article was first published in PlugHR in October 2013 edition. Republished with Permission.