Are Exit Interviews Worth Your Time?

Are Exit Interviews Worth Your Time?

We’ve all been there. Whether you’re an HR manager, department manager, or team leader, the moment an employee comes to you to tell you they’re leaving, you get that sinking feeling. It’s a sensation tinged with sadness, regret, stress, and overwhelm.

One of your first thoughts is likely about how to replace them. The looming increase in workload and decrease in employee morale hang like storm clouds in the office, and you quickly get preoccupied with the challenge of recruiting in a high demand market.

The last thing on your mind is arranging a time to sit down with the employee who’s quitting to pick his or her brain about their experience with your company. In fact, it’s pretty easy to get cynical and wonder if an exit interview is even worth your time at all.

The Case Against Exit Interviews

Nick Corcodilos, owner of the website Ask the Headhunter, says, “exit interviews fascinate me like cockroaches do… no one knows why they exist, no one can justify or eliminate them, and they will likely survive into the third millennium.” Obviously he’s quite the cynic, claiming that no employer could ever expect answers in an exit interview that are either honest or relevant to the company.

He’s not the only one. Many HR experts believe it’s a waste of time, especially when it’s rare that a company will ever follow up on an ex-employee’s answers, re-evaluating and changing relevant company policies or systems.

Others simply believe that most ex-employees will be dishonest or ambiguous in their answers. Why? Most likely because they don’t want to burn their bridges. Ex-colleagues, supervisors and managers can play valuable roles as references for future jobs, so they will want to be cautious and avoid discussing any real issues that might relate to employee relations.

It seems many ex-employees may feel the same way. An exit interview seems too little too late; why would an employer care about what they have to say now if they never cared enough before they decided to quit?

 The Positive Side of Exit Interviews

All that cynicism is enough to bring anyone down. But before you decide to scrap the idea of exit interviews, here’s why we think they’re important.

First of all, the exit interview cannot serve as an afterthought. They should never be conducted out of habitual procedure.

Exit interviews need to represent a genuine effort in trying to improve your company and its practices, policies, and work environment. They should occur in conjunction with strong retention strategies that focus on improving employee engagement and work culture.

This two-fold tactic should not only help decrease turnover, but will also allow you to take an honest look at the company’s weaknesses. It will open the door to overlooked flaws, such as misleading job advertisements, outdated or limited tools and resources, training and ongoing support that falls short of employee expectations and needs, or unrecognized problems with negativity and toxic work environments.

Ensure that all your employees are aware of your commitment to improvement. When they know you take exit interviews seriously and will act upon feedback, it’s more probable that they’ll provide credible answers. They are also more likely to leave on a positive note, which will help you avoid negative Glassdoor reviews while also increasing chances that they’ll recommend your company as a great place to work.

Yes, Exit Interviews Are Worth Your Time

At CyberSearch, we side with the positive perspective on exit interviews. Even if an ex-employee uses the time to vent their frustrations, it still provides valuable insight into why some of your best employees end up leaving. While some people quit their jobs for reasons entirely unrelated to the company, it’s still a good practice to build and maintain business relationships and a positive employer brand.

A well thought out process of bidding adieu to ex-employees will also aid you improving recruitment strategies. Tell us more about your company and how we can help you in recruiting top talent today.