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Exit Interviews: 3 Ways to Leverage Organizational Growth

One of the most valuable things employees can give to an organization their employers might surprise you; it’s their honesty.

Leverage organizational growth by conducting exit interviews

One of the most valuable things employees can give to an organization their employers might surprise you; it’s their honesty.

Getting genuine feedback from workers is an incredible tool that your organization must utilize to succeed. Forbes reported on a survey that examined trust in the workplace, and one of the top five reasons employees don’t trust their employers was their lack of follow-through on employee feedback.

Don’t waste this gift! One of the best ways to capture feedback is to conduct exit interviews. An exit interview is an interview held with an employee leaving their position. Exit interviews are used to discuss their experience in the role and their reasons for leaving.

By taking the time to talk with employees choosing to leave your company, you can uncover incredibly useful information and get a unique perspective on your organization that current employees might be afraid to offer. This will help you identify and act on problems, improving the future retention of your teams.

An important thing to note up front: the success of conducting exit interviews relies on maintaining confidentiality and creating a safe environment for employees to provide honest feedback. Make sure that departing employees are informed that their references will be safeguarded, and assure them that there will be no repercussions for their departure. Although there is minimal risk of retaliation since they are already leaving, it is essential to establish upfront that all necessary measures have been implemented to address this matter.

Organizations should also ensure that the feedback received is acted upon and used to drive meaningful improvements in employee retention. If you’re lucky enough to get honest feedback, you need to use it!

Here are 3 reasons why exit interviews are crucial for your organization.

1.) Exit Interviews Identify Areas of Opportunity

Exit interviews are an excellent source of data. If you’re unsure why employees are leaving, these interviews can help you get direct feedback and identify negative patterns within your organization.

For example: are multiple people from the same department quitting? Is a certain manager targeting employees from the same demographic? Does your organization make it difficult for entry-level employees to advance?

Make sure to focus on listening during the exit interview; ask your questions but give the employee on their way-out ample opportunity to speak for themselves and bring up issues outside of your areas of questioning. They just might help you uncover a problem you weren’t aware of, revealing organizational blind spots.

Keep track of respondents’ answers to gain insight over time. This information will help you gain a better understanding of areas that need improvement, and taking action in those areas can help improve retention in the future.

2.) Exit Interviews Can Inform Organizational Culture

You should be asking your employees for feedback consistently, but oftentimes, it doesn’t matter how much you encourage them some people are uncomfortable giving honest feedback, worrying about their job security or relationships getting damaged. They need to trust your organization to examine feedback fairly and adjust as needed.

Building that trust takes time. It can be difficult if there are pervasive issues throughout the organization— finding out what those issues are requires feedback and feedback requires trust, so it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle that never truly addresses problems.

Cut the guesswork by utilizing exit interviews! They provide an opportunity to directly address your organization’s culture and identify areas that need improvement. Seek out direct feedback on company culture, employee development, communication, and the effectiveness of executive leadership.

3.) Exit Interviews Enhance Employee Engagement

If the feedback you receive in an exit interview brings a harmful issue to light, informing your current team that you are now aware of problems and are working on an action plan can go a far way in building trust.

Taking the feedback of departing employees seriously can help improve the morale of current team members. It demonstrates that the company is dedicated to continuous improvement and shows a growth mindset. This might be enough to help employees on the verge of quitting reconsider.

By directly responding to concerns and showing an active interest in gathering employee input, your organization can demonstrate consideration and care. That being said, make sure to actually act on feedback! Don’t promise change and then push it off; it needs to be an active priority if it's part of your retention strategy.

Enhancing Insights With Exit Interviews

Exit interviews can be an illuminating tool for organizations to gain awareness of opportunities, improve organizational culture, and enhance employee engagement. Make sure that exiting employees are encouraged to be honest and protected when doing so, and don’t waste this feedback! Utilize the information you receive to improve your organization.

About the Author

Jamie Faulkner believes authenticity and storytelling are the keys to successful marketing. As a graduate from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, she loves finding and connecting narratives. When she's not at work, she's psychoanalyzing contestants on The Bachelor, painting, listening to podcasts, or playing tabletop RPGs.

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