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Exit Interview - Is the Timing Wrong?

During our work with one of the companies in designing their employees' experiences, a smart question came up, "Are we conducting exit interviews at the wrong time?"


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We all know the problems with exit interviews, right? They are either dishonest because employees are scared to tell us the truth due to fear of retaliation or tell us absolutely nothing because the person cannot be bothered anymore. Another major problem is that we don't use the data. We chuck them in the drawer and that's that so its relevance has been questioned many times. 


However, during our work, somebody had a really interesting take on this question, the timing of the interview. This particular company (watch in the video) in their "Exit/Depart) part of their employees' journey wanted to implement a post-farewell check-in with their ex-employees. This simply meant that after an employee has departed, within 2-4 weeks they make a courtesy call if you will, and see how the ex-employee is getting on, if everything is according to their expectations, and just to say hi really. What a beautiful gesture!!! 


During that conversation, we talked about exit interviews and one threw the idea what if they combined the exit interview with the courtesy call. I quite liked that idea for many reasons:

  • Post-departure interview removes the fear of retaliation for feedback so employers can get a more honest review. 

  • If the employee is disgruntled upon leaving this time would give them to cool off and look at things more objectively. We all say things we don't mean when we are upset and angry but that cannot be the base for organisational actions. So if we can avoid distorting our data by giving 2-4 weeks break to people, why not do that?

  • By that time, the employee would have a comparison between their new workplace and ours that provides a great context for their feedback. The grass is not always greener! 

  • Your ex-employees are your future talent pool and showing care and interest towards them should be part of your talent strategy just as much the data you collect during these interviews. Note: it might just be a nice email and an online survey depending on many things. 

  • And you can also make that courtesy call or email without looking and feeling like a weirdo! 


Could it be that the reason exit interviews are a waste of time for everyone is because of the timing? Have we overlooked this simple solution? What we want is good data and showing care. The break between departure and the exit interview along with a quick check-in could just provide that. 


I don't know about you but I would be quite pleased to receive a call or an email saying, "Hi Szilvia, We just wanted to check in and see how you are getting on in your new role. Based on your performance with us we are sure that you are impressing them with your ... (personalised message). Would you mind hopping on a quick call so you can tell us about your experiences with us, alternatively, I can send you a link..? PS: Your team is missing you and they were just telling me a story about you and the Friday ice cream lunch...." 


Employee experience design is not difficult but it requires creativity and a different approach of focusing on your people rather than process completion. 


Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:





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