Did you know that in the state of California, exit interviews are not required by law? However, they are conducted by most companies because for an employer, they offer the company a chance to learn from a departing employee his/her employment experience, and for employees, an opportunity to convey their feedback and any constructive criticism they wish to share.
A web search on the term exit interview results in a variety of HR professionals, employers and employees’ perspectives on the practice of gathering information on the departure of an employee. Among them, some provide tips on how managers can successfully conduct them; some give opinions on why they do or don’t work; and others advise employees how they can effectively communicate their point of views. What’s obvious is that exit interviews are a standard and formal process most organizations follow to learn from former employees and (hopefully) use the input to improve staff management, relations, productivity, and communications. And, for the employee, it’s a chance to feel empowered to share thoughts that they would not have otherwise done previously.
If you’re in the camp of people who doubt the validity or necessity of exit interviews and you’re in a position to recommend an alternate mode of communications to complete an employee’s departure, carefully think through changing your process. One way to address the value of the exit interview is to poll a sampling of your employees or, if your organization conducts an annual employee satisfaction or engagement survey, including a couple of questions to gather their opinions on the exit interview process. Based on the data received, a recommendation that includes your assessment and employees’ perspectives can be prepared for presentation to the leadership team as they decide on the future of exit interviews.
If you’re an employee who wishes to leave with a few parting thoughts, the exit interview is your chance to share. In the process, remember to focus on being truthful, positive and productive in your responses. Don’t be apprehensive about sharing any negative feedback as it could be constructive and help the organization to improve practices. You shouldn’t fear any setbacks or retribution for being honest. Exit interviews are given by a member of the human resources team so they are expected to be an impartial party, available to you to listen in confidence, take notes and convey your input back to the organization for management and process improvement.
Our opinion is that exit interviews will continue to be an opportunity for both employers and employees to learn from each other as each part ways. When giving them, HR representatives should help the employee feel comfortable and at ease, welcoming them to offer their viewpoints on the job, management and the company. On the other hand, employees can be helpful to the organization by being honest and providing their observations. With resulting reliable and truthful input, HR can use the information to help the organization move forward, and the former team member may have a clear conscience to start on the next journey of his/her career.
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