Exit interviews

  • End of Employment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

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Exit interviews advice guide for employers from Peninsula Business Services UK. Employers call us today on 0800 0282 420.

When running a business, employees leaving is completely unavoidable. But when they do, you should use it as an opportunity to make improvements to your company.

Conducting an exit interview is the best way to gain an insight into why someone is choosing to move on and how your company is performing as a whole. So it's important you familiarise yourself with their benefits.

In this guide, we'll discuss why you should conduct exit interviews, their benefits, and tips you should follow.

What is an employee exit interview?

An exit interview is a two-way conversation held between an employee and a member of staff when someone is leaving your company. They should make up an important part of your offboarding process.

It's important for employers to gain insights and honest feedback into an employees' reasons for leaving the business. They're also a good way to ensure the working relationship ends on a positive note.

Why should you conduct exit interviews?

Conducting exit interviews should be seen as a fantastic way for you to improve employee experience within your company. You shouldn't see someone seeking new employment as a negative, they should be seen as a way to improve how your company operates.

They are one of the best ways to find valuable information about how your company runs. Such as employee happiness, morale and overall quality of their working life.

There are many benefits to conducting exit interviews when employees choose to leave your company. Let's discuss them in more detail:

Reveal any company issues

The main goal of exit interviews is to get constructive feedback on your company that you may not previously be aware of. Once you gain feedback on your business, you'll be more aware of any areas you can improve.

The information you receive from departing employees should be seen as invaluable. As an employer you can't have eyes and ears across your company on a daily basis. So exit interviews are a great way to become aware of any ongoing issues.

Helps you understand your company culture

As an employer, you may not be finely tuned into the daily culture of your business. An employee exit interview is a good way of delving deep into it.

It's important you understand your corporate culture, as this can have a big effect on employee engagement.

There may be issues surrounding bullying or workplace conflict that's having an affect on certain employees whenever they're in work. Holding an interview is the best way to uncover any issues with culture that you need to address as soon as possible.

Increase employee retention

Exit interviews are a great way to improve employee retention in your company. You may not know why employees are choosing to leave your business, but by undertaking an interview then they leave - you'll be able to find out.

It's important that you use the information they give to make any improvements required to your company. This can help you retain employees and attract top talent in the future. This can also save money on extra hiring costs.

As a business owner, getting in control of your retention rates is an important part of running a company.

Help you to understand employee turnover

You may feel like you go through periods where many employees are leaving your company and you have high rates of employee turnover. Conducting exit interviews are a good way to understand their reasons for leaving and getting your rate in control.

For example, the work environment may be one of the reasons why employees are choosing to leave your company. So by getting feedback on how you can improve may lead to your employer turnover decreasing.

Helps to maintain a strong employer brand

Conducting exit interviews are the best way to leave a lasting impression on departing employees. You must be able to show that you can accept constructive feedback and criticism.

A successful business admits its mistakes, and shows a willingness to improve and change. It's important you take any feedback you get as constructive, so ensure you listen carefully to what the employee has to say. You never know - they may even recommend you to a friend in the future.

What is the exit interview process?

Although there's no legal process you should follow when carrying out exit interviews, it's important to have a plan for them..

Following the below is good practice:

  • Hold a face-to-face interview with the departing employee to discuss their reasons for leaving.
  • Remind the employee at the start that all their answers are confidential.
  • Ensure you make a copy of their answers for future reference. 
  • Have a list of pre-set questions ready to ask.

It's crucial you have your questions prepared, not doing so can lead to you forgetting and not obtaining all the information required.

When should you hold the exit interview?

There’s no specific time as to when the exit interview should be held. You can either hold it when the notice is handed in, or when during their last week.

Where should you hold the exit interview?

It's important that the conversation is completely confidential, so it should be held away from other employees.

It's important you create a good atmosphere to ensure the employee feels comfortable and not like they're being interrogated.

Who should hold the exit interview?

There's no specific rule as to who should conduct exit interviews within a company. However, a direct manager or a line manager is ideal. This is important because an employee is more likely to provide honest feedback to a manager who they have a close working relationship with.

You may choose to have a member of the HR department hold the interview for you.

Having a manager who hasn't directly worked with an employee may lead to them holding some information or thoughts back.

Are exit interviews a legal requirement?

No, holding exit interviews aren't a legal requirement under UK employment law.

However, it's important you provide training to your senior staff and managers on exit interviewing. So when the time is right, you can relax knowing you're getting all the information you need.

Tips for holding an effective exit interview

As an employer, you need to ensure any exit interviews that take place in your company are as effective as possible. There are some tips you can follow to ensure you're getting the most out of them.

Let's discuss them in more detail:

All employees get an exit interview

Every departing employee should get an exit interview, no matter what level of the company they work in. Both top and bottom level employees will have their own reasons for leaving your company so it's important that an exit interview is held with everyone.

Holding interviews with only senior employees may give off the message that only their opinion matters.

Keep is transparent and casual

Make sure the exit interview isn't like a job interview. Remember, you're looking for feedback so you don't want them to become nervous.

These are important conversations so it's important you don't act too formally. The more relaxed they are, the more likely it is that the employee will give you honest feedback and thoughts.

Don't take their answers personally

This tip is vitally important. You should never respond in the wrong way to an employee's answer.

Remember, there's nothing wrong with someone looking to take a new career path. And you shouldn't let this end the working relationship on a bad note, so ensure you don't react the wrong way.

It's important you leave a good impression on the employee leaving, as you may have an opening perfect for them in the future - especially if they've developed their skills further.

Use the results wisely

It's important to use the exit interview data wisely. Although you have heard a few things that made you feel uncomfortable or upset, you must use the results as a way to improve.

There may be small changes you can make to your company that will make a big difference to your current employees and stop them from leaving. But by not using the results properly, you're increasing the chances of more employees looking to move on.

You should use exit interviews to improve aspects of your company that will ultimately make it more successful. The information gained in these interviews are a fantastic way to make your business better.

Example exit interview questions

There's no specific set of exit interview questions that you should ask, as this varies from industry to industry. However, you must select the correct questions for you to be able to gain insight as to why people are choosing to leave your company.

Below are some example questions you can choose to ask:

  • What made you look for a new job?
  • Is there anything you would change about your current position?
  • What makes your new position more suitable than your current one?
  • Is there anything we could have done to make you stay?
  • How did you manage your workload?
  • What are the pros to working with our company? 
  • What would you change about the working conditions in the company?

It's best practice to have an exit interview template on hand ready to use when an employee leaves.

What to include in your exit interview template

Preparing exit interview questions can speed the process up. It also ensures the correct questions are being asked. However, it's important that you make changes to the template when required.

You should include the following in your template:

  • Employee name.
  • Job title.
  • Interview date.
  • Length of time spent with the company.
  • Their main reason for leaving (with a tick box section with variable options).
  • Any questions you have with space below for answers.

It's good practice to have your template within your company documents ready to use when an employee is leaving.

Get advice on exit interviews with Peninsula

As an employer, it's unavoidable that employees will leave your company. But you should take this opportunity to make improvements to your business.

Conducting an exit interview is a perfect way to gain an insight into why someone is choosing to move on and how your company is performing as a whole. So it's important you familiarise yourself with their benefits.

Peninsula offers you expert 24/7 HR advice and support, helping you manage employee breaks at work, as well as offering employment contract advice. Contact us on 0800 051 3629

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