Exit interviews

Exit interviews are often viewed as unnecessary, invasive and irrelevant. But they can give valuable feedback to printers about what’s really going on in the organisation and how it can be improved. Done well, the exit interview provides data that can shorten and improve the effectiveness of the recruitment process, reduce employee absenteeism and sustain or raise organisational performance, increase employee engagement and reduce litigation risk.

And for printers, it costs absolutely nothing.

The reality is people leave printing companies for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they want to start a family. Or their partner might be transferred interstate or overseas. Maybe the career path they are on at your company doesn’t suit them. Maybe they have problems with a particular manager. Whatever the reason, it is important for the company to find out what’s going on if it’s serious about creating a good workplace.

Taking the employee out for a farewell lunch and then plying them with questions is not a good approach. Getting answers from a half-intoxicated employee will not achieve anything.

The best approach is to give the soon-to-be-ex employee plenty of notice. Set up a time to conduct a formal exit interview at least the week before they are due to finish up. Ideally, it should be conducted face-to-face.

During the exit interview, you need to cover four basic issues. First, you need to find out their general impression of what it was like to work for the company. Secondly, what was their general impression of the company as a whole? Then, talk about their role in the company. What did they get out of it? Could it be improved? And finally, their reasons for leaving.

How well do you believe your work was recognised and appreciated?

Do you feel you were given adequate training and assistance in learning your job?

Can you see opportunities for transfer or promotion within this business?

How would you describe the morale of your fellow employees?

How fairly was the workload distributed among you and your co-workers?

What could be done to make this company a better place to work?

It is also important to have some ground rules in place.

First, conduct the interview with a neutral manager. Employees are less likely to be intimidated and the results will be more honest. Also, do not argue with the employee. Listen to them and if you have to, use a standard template for the interview. This can make information gathering easier. When talking to them, assure the employee that their feedback is valued – and value it. It is also important to assure the employee that the interview is confidential – and keep it confidential.

Do not make the interview too long; consider making your questions specific. The results of general questions can be difficult to track the trends.

Do not ask a dismissed employee for an exit interview. This is considered inappropriate.

And finally, let the employee tell you how they feel. At the end, thank the employee for giving up their time.

And don’t forget, ask them how your organisation can improve.

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