Exit Interviews – An Important but Often Overlooked Management Procedure by Companies

Employers are aware that firing an employee is a sensitive matter that must be handled with care. You, as an employer, are obligated to continue protecting employees’ rights even after an employee has resigned, retired, or been terminated. But you need to safeguard the company as well. The exit interview is a practice that some employers may not see fit to implement. The vast majority of the employers skip this step, but it’s actually quite important.

Conducting exit interviews on a regular basis is something that should be done. Alternatively, now is the time to get better at them if your company was already doing them. Here are six goals to consider while formulating an exit strategy for your company:

  • Gain an understanding of the leadership styles and effectiveness of managers.

Effective managers can be rewarded, and harmful ones eliminated with this information’s help. It would also be an opportunity to find out negative management techniques such as, for e.g., micromanagement being a major issue. Discussions during the exit interview process can lead to some very practical outcomes, such as formulating and implementing new programs for manager training and improvement.

  • Have you considered the possibility that the employee is attempting to escape something that happened at the company or are they simply leaving for a better suited job opportunity?

Hopefully, it’s the latter. It’s possible that you and your company played a role in the employee’s professional development and acquisition of the talents that made them so desirable to a competing firm. Honor that. If the former is the case, your company may have some fixing up to do. You must determine what or who in your organization’s culture is causing this employee to leave. It’s best to assume this is an isolated incident and move on if there’s a conflict of personalities or a poor fit amongst people involved. However, you should focus on fixing a company-wide issue if you notice one.

  • Generating loyal, long-term advocates of the company is essential.

Thank and respect leaving employees for their service. That could lead to their recommending their former employers to prospective employees, continuing to utilize and promote their former employers’ products and services, and even forming partnerships between their current and previous businesses.

  • Companies may be vulnerable to whistle blower lawsuits.

All employers, especially defense contractors, hospitals, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, need to watch out for fraud, waste, and abuse in today’s litigious society. Corporate America faces a very real threat from whistle blower lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act or similar state or federal laws. Even though it may be uncomfortable, a thorough exit interview process can provide an organization with a rare chance to address legitimate concerns raised by exiting employees. It is essential that this procedure verifies that no employees raised concerns about fraud while they were employed.

  • Don’t sever any ties with any of the exiting employees.

Be kind and generous in your wishes for their happiness. Remember that the business world in corporate America is quite small. Who knows, maybe tomorrow that angry employee of today may be your best customer. Keep in mind that you cannot afford to make an enemy of a talented employee just because she takes another job, especially in this day and age of Glassdoor ratings, viral LinkedIn posts of former employees, and the possibility of your every word and deed gaining immortal internet life.

  • Take this an opportunity to protect your company’s trade secrets.

No matter the field, it is usually in a company’s best interest to conduct exit interviews with employees who have access to sensitive or proprietary information before they leave. Confronting an exiting employee who may soon be working for a competitor in an interview can be uncomfortable for both parties, but it’s the best chance for the company to learn whether its proprietary information is at risk of being stolen if the interview is conducted while the employee is still employed. Last but not least, remind the employee of any post-employment responsibilities, such as maintaining the confidentiality of any sensitive information and complying with any legally binding restrictive covenants.

Competent employees are a company’s most valuable resource in today’s knowledge-based economy. Thus, businesses should get insight into their employees’ motivations for staying or leaving, as well as any necessary adjustments, from these observations. Effective employers can improve their listening skills, gain insight into what works and what doesn’t within the company, discover previously unknown threats and opportunities, and amass crucial competitive intelligence by conducting exit interviews with exiting employees. Indicating to employees that their opinions are valued can increase engagement and decrease turnover and it can make former employees who advocate for the company for years after they’ve left. Unfortunately, not enough employers are paying attention to this instrument, thus their initiatives aren’t helping with retention or yielding relevant data. You can work with our experienced employment law attorney at the Walsh Law Firm to discuss and formulate exit interview strategy and you can contact us here.