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HUMAN RESOURCES

Making Exit Interviews Work

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Many companies use exit surveys and interviews as a tool to enhance organizational effectiveness. Robert Hoffman, the principal, chief executive officer of HR Advice.com (www.hradvice.com), which helps guide employees and employers on HR issues, says several factors influence the positive impact of exit information. These include:

  • Goal of the process - Companies should have a clear idea of what they hope to accomplish by implementing a formalized exit assessment process. The primary objective should be to foster an environment of open communications, which will continually improve behaviors within an organization. Secondary agendas, including identification of performance issues, reasons for poor morale or changes needed in job content, should be recognized prior to the employee leaving the organization.
  • Organizational readiness - The best Human Resources tools are wasted, if introduced at the wrong time in an organization. Employers should be aware of the receptivity of the company when introducing the exit process. Environments with mistrust, changing cultures or excessive management turnover may strain the usefulness of exit information. Departing employees may be unwilling to disclose information, or provide misleading information as an attempt to disguise true feelings about the company.
  • Timing, documentation and responsibility - Companies should decide how to conduct the exit information process. Should you conduct an in-person interview or just hand out a form? When should the information be collected? When it is fresh in the minds of the departing employee or weeks later when they have reflected on their experience? Should an outside firm be used to maintain confidentiality or can the Human Resources department be trusted with the information? The answers to these questions should be based upon your objectives and the resources available within the company.
  • Application of results - Possibly the most critical factor in the assessment of exit information is the use of the results. A mechanism to communicate and summarize the results to managers and key employees is recommended. The company should use the information to influence job content, policies, training programs, feedback mechanisms and operating structure consistent with the objective of continuous improvement.

    See the sample document below to assist in the exit process. Please keep in mind a critical factor is the appropriateness of the document for your specific organization. Compatibility between the message you are sending to the employees and how the organization operates should be a consideration.

Last updated: May 15, 1999




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