Consider Conducting Exit Interviews with the Employees Left Behind
No matter why or how an employee leaves, it’s always good to conduct an exit interview, both to learn about projects and responsibilities left unfulfilled and to discover why exactly the employee has chosen to leave. This second purpose may be the most important, especially if it enables you to bring issues to the surface that may be ones you need to address with the rest of your employees.
But let’s face it: exiting employees aren’t always in the mood to be totally honest, especially if they’re leaving under a cloud. A recent study conducted by Elizabeth Lentz, a researcher with the Personnel Decisions Research Institute, suggests that when an employee leaves, you may actually be able to get more information about the reasons for their departure from their co-workers than you can from the departing employee (and certainly more than you can get from a survey).
The research revealed co-workers often have a deep understanding about exiting employees' decisions, and are able to provide accurate and valuable information regarding the motive behind the exit. The study also showed others who interacted professionally with the employee, such as bosses and human resources specialists, were able to provide valuable and accurate information.
We think it makes sense. Certainly there may be reasons for an employee to leave a job that are unrelated to the workplace or the job. But when a worker leaves, it can also be a sign that something is wrong, something that may be affecting others. It’s the best time to seize the opportunity to find out. Asking an employee why so-and-so left is less intimidating than asking about the employee’s own issues. You might just hear something you didn’t know. Acting on that information may save you more exit interviews later on.