You will read about giving your employees constructive feedback in Chapter 15. When an employee decides to leave, it's a good time to ask him for feedback because he is likely to be open and honest and tell you everything. You can do this during an exit interview. The purpose of exit interviews is to find out why people decide to leave the company. If there is a pattern of workers leaving for better pay or benefits, then it may be time to re-evaluate your compensation package. Opportunities for advancement may not be something that you can increase due to staffing needs. When employees reveal that they are unhappy with the work environment, find out the source of the frustration. Is it all about supervisors who do not communicate with the staff or managers who micromanage? Maybe the problem is a lack of morale in the workplace. All of these things can bring a person down.
The exit interview may be verbal or written. People are more likely to open up during a written questionnaire, but a verbal one offers the opportunity to ask for specifics. The person conducting a verbal interview should not be a supervisor of the employee; a neutral third party is most effective. This person should have good listening skills and the ability to react to answers that need further elaboration.
You can give an employee a written exit-interview questionnaire before he departs, or give it to him at the end of his last day to take home and return in a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope. You will receive more responses if you ask employees to complete and turn them in during normal work hours.
Questions that are asked during a verbal or written exit interview should cover the following areas:
Quality of supervisors
Do not use a verbal exit interview as an opportunity to try to sway a departing employee to stay. If you want to try to convince someone to withdraw his resignation, do this in a face-to-face conversation and ask what it would take to make him reconsider. A person who wants more money or needs to work a different schedule may look for another job that offers what they want instead of asking their current employer. A resignation can encourage someone to open up, but don't ask what it will take to change his mind unless you are able to consider a reasonable request.
The results of exit interviews should be shared with owners, managers, human resources, and supervisors. Some respondents may have unrealistic expectations, but if you see a consistent dissatisfaction in the same areas, put the interviews to good use and implement a plan to turn things around. After all, the purpose of an exit interview is to improve job satisfaction and lower the rate of employee resignations.