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Why are exit interviews so important?

The way an organisation engages top talent throughout the hiring process is critical to securing that talent and maintaining a positive brand reputation. When businesses think about talent strategies, their thoughts normally go to talent acquisition and on-boarding. Manpower Group South Africa's managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar, explains that following the right strategies around talent outplacement is just as important, in terms of the recruitment process.
Why are exit interviews so important?
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“Exit interviews are conducted after an employee resigns, and before the employee leaves the company. This gives the employee the opportunity to share their insights into concerns around issues like company culture, processes, management styles and strategies, employee engagement strategies, workplace ethics, and so on,” explains van den Barselaar.

In an uncertain economic climate, acquiring and maintaining the best talent is a competitive advantage. “Employees are customers of your business too. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses your business has from the perspective of an employee is vital in ensuring your business is doing the best it can – and someone who is leaving the business is more likely to be honest and open about their opinions,” says van den Barselaar.

She provides the following tips for carrying out successful exit interviews:

  1. Measuring what matters most

    “Focus on why the employee would want to leave the business, and what their experiences were. This will allow you to understand trends and patterns, such as if there are certain departments or sections of the business that are particularly problematic, or a management style that is causing high turnover,” says van den Barselaar.

  2. Make use of learnings

    The exit interview should not just be about gathering the information, but about deciding how best to use it. “Importantly, businesses need to use the information gathered to make decisions and changes, where necessary; to ensure that they are improving on their weaknesses,” she says.

  3. Improve the recruiting process

    Exit interviews can also assist the employer to understand the differences between the employee’s expectations around their job role and their actual experience. “This information is important in improving the recruiting process going forward, and ensuring that new employee’s expectations are more aligned with their role, the right training is provided, and so on,” says van den Barselaar.

  4. Improve the workforce

    “Any feedback in terms of management styles, line managers or colleagues should be taken into account and strategically fed back into the existing workforce of the business, to ensure each employee is performing at their best and knows where they might need to improve, or where their strengths lie,” says van den Barselaar. This kind of information can help to build a strong workforce within a company.

  5. Protect the business’ reputation

    People talk – and if an employee has had a particularly bad experience at a company, they are bound to share this with their friends and family, and perhaps even future colleagues. “To ensure a positive business reputation amongst job seekers, possible future candidates and customers, it is important to do what you can to remain on positive terms with employees – including those who are leaving. Giving an employee the chance to feel heard, give feedback and ask questions before they leave will ensure they feel valued – and assist you in ensuring a positive reputation for your business amongst those who are most important.”

    Many organisations get an independent third party to conduct their exit interviews due to concerns about confidentiality, and ensuring that the correct processes are followed. “The right partner will ensure the best talent acquisition and management for your particular business, aligned with the business’ goals and strategies,” says van den Barselaar.
She concludes by encouraging all businesses to include exit interviews as part of their employee engagement strategies.

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