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Exit Interviews: Valuable Insight or Wasted Time?
Thursday, September 1, 2016 6:40 AM

Kimberly Jones, AVP, HR Consulting, Credit Union Resources

Imagine that one of your stellar employees walks into your office to tell you that they are giving their two weeks’ notice. Your jaw hits the floor, your body goes into shock, and you’re left wondering what you're going to do?

First, you immediately try to figure out if there’s anything you can do to salvage the relationship. Why are they leaving? Are they unhappy with the work environment? Are they unhappy with you? Do they want more money? These questions run through your head, as they should. You try to do all you can, but in the end, they decide that it’s time to move on and you just need to accept it.

On the employee’s last day in the office, you schedule an exit meeting to go over the last few details and collect any items in the employee's possession that belong to the credit union. You also use the opportunity to ask a few questions about the employee’s experience with the organization. In many situations, this type of feedback can be informative and insightful. However, to gain as much helpful information as possible, you really need to ensure you’re asking the right questions.

Below are four questions every employer should ask an employee who’s leaving their organization:

  • How did the job match your expectations? By creating accurate first impressions, employers engage employees from day one. Try to find out if the daily realities of the job stacked up to how it was initially portrayed to them. If it didn’t, then you will know that you need to tweak those expectations to achieve better hiring results in the future.
  • Did you feel that the work you were doing aligned with your personal goals and interests? For the most part, professional development goals tie directly to business objectives. Sometimes those goals are in alignment with personal goals, and sometimes they aren’t. However, that doesn’t mean that an employee’s personal and professional passions and interests can’t tie in as well; it just means that you should make sure you are asking the proper questions during the hiring process to gauge whether your organization would be a good match with them.
  • Did you have the tools and resources you needed to effectively do your job? Many credit unions operate with pretty lean organizational structures. Employees may wear multiple hats or perform multiple job functions. In terms of conserving costs, this is a good thing, sometimes even required. However, we also have to understand that we can’t expect employees to deliver exceptional work without making sure they have the proper tools to do the job. By receiving this type of insight, employers have a better idea of the types of investments they may need to make in the future.
  • Would you recommend this company as a great place for a friend to work? This question is usually asked of employers about a prior employee during a reference or employment verification check. Of course, you don’t know if you’d get a truthful answer from the employee, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to ask. The job may not have been a good fit for the employee that resigned; however, that doesn’t mean they still can’t be an advocate for your organization if they know someone who might be.

To sum it all up, not every organization is a good fit for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it's important to learn from prior experiences to improve your organization and the quality of personnel that make up your team. It pays to know how you can improve your overall employee experience, and that payoff includes reduced turnover, more engaged employees, and higher productivity levels.