Exit interviews are considered crucial by companies as they help garner useful information about the management's policies and work culture.
The exit interview is an important tool to gather useful feedback that can help guide future HR practices and improve employee engagement and retention. The most important questions asked in an exit interview revolve around the employee's primary reason for leaving and his perception on the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation. "An exit interview is a wrap-up meeting between the employer and the employee who is leaving an organisation, usually conducted by the HR personnel. It may be conducted through a variety of methods, in-person, over the telephone, on paper, or through an online survey," says Keyuri Singh, VP-HR, Infogain, who has been playing a role of a strategist and advisor to the Board, Leadership Team, Departments and other functions.
According to Parul Makkar, HR Manager at WelcomHotel Dwarka, "From the employer's perspective, the primary aim of the interview is to know an associate's views on his journey within the organisation, its policies, work- life balance, subordinate supervisor relationship, work ethics, growth opportunities, training needs, performance management, encouragement of creative thinking and of course his reason to leave the organisation". At WelcomHotel the exit interviews of the key positions are held by a Manager one level above (in the organisation chart) from a different unit and a different but related function. The CFEI (cross functional exit interview) process has dual benefit
a) the interviewee confides in the interviewer without any prejudice and
b) the interviewer has a neutral outlook to weigh the situation at hand.
Exit nterviews can also be used as a useful tool to retain the Associates. “Once the right reason for leaving is ascertained during the exit interview, the resigned skilled craftsmen may be retained by striking a balance between his expectations and organisation's capability or intention to deliver,” adds Parul.
An exit interview will serve its purtpose only if it is conducted in a well-organised manner. “Explain the reason behind the exit interview to the departing employee: The exiting employee should be informed that the real purpose of the interview is to determine whether there are areas that should be addressed to help improve employee engagement and retention”, says Keyuri .
According to her an exit interview should be brief and focused on specific areas and should not be time-consuming for the departing employee. “Conduct exit interviews one-on-one in a private setting: "Ganging up" on a departing employee with having multiple managers sit in on an exit interview is intimidating and can limit the person's willingness to respond honestly”, she adds. “The exit interview demands a certain level of seriousness from both the ends, without which it becomes mere another bundle of documentation”, says Parul.
Pros and cons of conducting exit interviews
Providing accurate feedback: Many companies conduct surveys throughout the year to gauge employee engagement. This is a great tool; however, the data could be inaccurate as many employees are not willing to give negative feedback, when they are part of the organisation, for fear of repercussions. An exit interview allows departing employees to provide accurate feedback to the organisation, without any fear.
Gaining an insight into the real work environment: Many people leave because of an unpleasant work environment. An exit interview allows employees to voice their issues freely, which helps an organisation to look into issues and resolve them before more employees leave.
Increase retention: It helps organisations to stop attrition and improve retention by bringing in policy changes or adopting ways which can lead to employee satisfaction. This improves productivity and saves a lot of recruitment cost and hassles for an organisation.
It aids the organisation to ascertain the right time to bring about a change within itself, if required.
Low participation: Many employees may not share sensitive or negative information during an in-person interview. Once an employee makes the decision to quit a job, they often do not care enough about the company to want to share more information.
Expensive: Expensive if done with an outside consultant.
Exit Interviews might be used as a tool to blackmail the organisation for Associate’s benefit. Such interviews are highly subjective and rely to a greater extent on the level of maturity and understanding of the parties involved. Outcomes of such interviews could be misleading or manipulative.
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