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March 10, 2009

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Retaining employees in today's tight market is a tough job. With companies vying for your precious workforce, it's in your firm's best interest to determine the reasons behind an employee's decision to leave - preferably before releasing that employee. Whether their reasons include cash incentives, better benefits, or an unfulfilled desire to join the circus, you as the employer need to know. An exit interview is the perfect - and often only - time for you to find out why your employees might consider leaving your firm.

Granted, an employee has no obligation to your firm to divulge his or her exact reasons for leaving. In fact, many people realize that it's in their best interest to make a graceful exit. This often leads to a short, semi-candid exit interview. On the other side of the spectrum, however, some people will capitalize on the opportunity to vent pent-up frustrations about the workplace environment. The key is to allow each and every employee ample time to talk. If you are able to glean the right information, you might be able to make some changes that help you keep employees from leaving in the future.

The key is to keep the interview short while allowing the employee to say everything and anything regarding the separation. Make sure that the employee is aware that anything said during the interview will not be used against them. Relax, take notes, and come prepared with questions such as the following:

  • Why are you leaving?
  • What were your favorite and least favorite things about the position?
  • How did you feel about the management in your department?
  • How would you describe the environment in which you worked?
  • Do you recommend any improvements that might help morale or production?
  • How did you feel about your compensation and benefits package?
~Make sure that you gather some general feedback from the employee. Once the interview is over, you should immediately determine whether or not you would rehire the employee (assuming they reapply). You won't always gather a wealth of information from the exit interview, but it's important to use the information you do gather to improve working conditions at your firm.

The truth is, people come and go all the time. Low unemployment affords today's workforce the luxury to consider numerous alluring job prospects. You won't be able to keep all of your employees from leaving, but you can always endeavor to improve the workplace so that more don't follow. Exit interviews are just one of the many methods you can utilize to retain your valuable human capital.

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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