Making the Most of an Employee’s Exit Interview

When an employee is leaving your business, there may be mixed feelings. You might be excited to see them moving on to a new opportunity, sad to see them go, or in the case of a problematic employee, relieved to be rid of a toxic member of your team. No matter the emotion’s surrounding an employee’s departure, a well-conducted exit interview is an important final step.

The Importance of Exit Interviews

According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, nearly three-quarters of the surveyed companies utilized exit interviews. There’s a few big reasons why exit interviews are so common—and so important for a company’s growth. One reason why exit interviews are so critical is that they give managers, supervisors, and HR professionals the chance to receive honest feedback from the departing employee. During an exit interview, the leaving employee may share some of their favorites things about working for the business, but also offer feedback on areas that could be improved. If they identity a specific reason for their departure, like a lack of growth in their role, it lets the business know what might need to be changed in the future to retain other employees. Even when an employee is leaving, their honest feedback can help their supervisor or HR department address issues, find solutions, and find ways to improve and grow.

Tips for a Great Exit Interview

Since exit interviews are a great opportunity to find ways to improve, companies want to make sure they’re getting the most of each exit interview. During your next exit interview with a departing employee, use these tips to help you gather feedback while giving your employee a comfortable sendoff.

Foster a Positive Environment

During an exit interview, the departing employee may have some trepidation about fully speaking their mind. They might not want to “burn bridges” with you or sound like they’re badmouthing the company. To make them feel more comfortable, emphasis the importance of honesty during the exit interview. Explain how their feedback will be used to help improve the business for others.

Focus on Your Most Pressing Questions

If you have specific areas that you’d like more employee feedback on, make sure to prioritize that topic during an exit interview. By asking specific questions, you’re more likely to get thoughtful, direct feedback and can address the topics that are important to you, your other employees, and your business.

Ask Why They’re Leaving

One question that many employers prioritize during exit interviews is “what caused you to start looking for a new job?” This question can be an excellent opening to give the departing employee a chance to talk about if they felt unhappy or unfulfilled in their role. It can also lead to an honest discussion about areas for improvement. Learning an employee’s reasons for leaving might prompt you to take a closer look at specific areas of your business, or broader issues like compensation or officewide polices.

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