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<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Use Exit Interviews to Fix Flaws

December 28, 2010
Dear Asking Why:
If a company truly wants to improve employee retention, productivity, quality and profits, it performs good exit interviews. Input from exiting employees is the quickest way to pinpoint what your company is doing well, as well as problem areas and opportunities to improve.
Here are my three favorite questions:
1. Tell me about the three things that, if changed, would allow you to stay with the company.
The first response is often: "There is nothing you could do." If you get this response, ask the employee to pretend that there was a chance he or she might stay. This question routinely allows me to "save" 10 percent of those who have given notice. Major employee concerns are sometimes easily fixed once brought out into the open.
2. Pretend that you have just bought the company. Please tell me about the first three changes you would make."
You will hear ideas for improving operations, reducing waste and other helpful suggestions that may not be readily apparent.
3. Thinking about the supervision you have received, tell me about the strengths and opportunities for improvement of the work experience our company provides its employees.
Responses will identify supervisors who fail to properly communicate, support, develop employees and maintain an appropriate work environment—as well as those who do.
I wait until the exiting employee has left the company before I publish a brief summary of the exit interview to appropriate management personnel. Employees are more willing to provide meaningful information if they know they will not have to defend their feelings during their last days of employment with your company.
I record each exit interview finding, compile them into a report and meet with key management personnel on a quarterly basis to highlight trends and develop action plans. The report becomes a benchmark from which future improvement efforts can be measured.
Outsourcing the exit interview process often improves its overall value. Outsiders tend to be more objective and, because they specialize in exit interviews, get higher-quality input.
SOURCE: Rick Galbreath, Performance Growth Partners Inc., Bloomington, Illinois
LEARN MORE: Please read this list of ways to make exit interviews a success within your organization.
Workforce Management Online, December 2010 -- Register Now!
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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