A disruptive and unproductive employee tenders their resignation, at last, you may say. A week later a model employee also tenders their resignation. Why? you may ask yourself. So, you take the opportunity to have a chat with this employee to understand their reasons for leaving as it has come as a surprise to you? What about the disruptive employee’s reasons for leaving? Is this not an interest to you?
The right practice for your business is to carry out an exit interview with all leavers to understand their reasons for leaving your organisation. An exit interview may be the last opportunity for the employee to have a frank and honest conversation with you. The discussion which takes place with the employee is a rich source of information for the organisation to take on board. Whether it is the disruptive employee leaving for what you may think are obvious reasons or the model employee leaving for not so obvious reasons, it is important for a meaningful discussion to take place with both employees.
Now then – you may think the disruptive employee is discontented in their role and disinterested hence their resignation, but there could be underlying reasons for them feeling this way. In some cases, the employee is not challenged enough in their role or poorly managed. You could have a good employee who is more than capable of doing their role with great potential but unfortunately, this may not be recognised due to mismanagement. These feelings and opinions may only come to light in the discussion during the exit interview.
The model employee, on the other hand, may not feel supported, their efforts recognised or inspired in their role. These are matters which could have been addressed earlier however as it may be too late for the employee, it is not too late for the organisation to act upon.
The exit interview should not be an opportunity where problems come to light for the first time but where this is the case, then it is not too late to take action to improve certain internal processes within the business. The interview should not be a 5-minute discussion, but rather a structured and planned meeting:
Schedule the interview – It is good practice for the interview to be held at the point of resignation to allow the organisation the opportunity to address and rectify any concerns raised during the employee’s notice period, where possible. Ideally a face to face discussion but otherwise over the phone, either way, it should be a productive conversation which is documented by using an exit interview questionnaire to ensure consistency. Another option is for the employee to complete a written exit questionnaire to allow them to gather their thoughts is advance which is then followed up in person.
What to ask and not to ask – consistency is key to allow you to compare responses and get the employee to participate. It is important to gather constructive feedback with regards to reasons for leaving, the organisation’s practices, line management, teamwork, terms and conditions, pay, all topics related to the role and the company to allow you to improve on this information.
Try to avoid discussions surrounding gossip as it is never constructive or reliable, avoid slander and getting into personal issues. Keep the discussion professional and focused on work related matters.
In some cases, the employee may cite their reasons for leaving to be due to discrimination, victimisation, poor management in which case you need to share this information with HR to ensure your internal procedures are followed to address such concerns. Be mindful that resignations with a grievance which are not addressed or ignored could result in the ex-employee making a claim.
Now what to do with this information – the information gathered is invaluable and should assist you in identifying opportunities to improve certain practices within the Company. Involve your HR department to review the feedback, set-up a process where the information is recorded and acted upon and to measure and identify common trends. This may involve sharing issues raised with line management or escalate to the next level where the feedback is relevant.
Consistency in obtaining feedback will help you identify common trends to be addressed. For example, where mutual feedback seems to be the job is not what was expected then this should be used as an opportunity to review your recruitment process from the advert, job description and interview and selection stages as to how the role is communicated to the induction and the training provided at the start of the role.