Encouraging meaningful feedback from employees should be a priority for all businesses. It enables us to move forward and helps maintain a competitive edge when attracting and retaining talent.

But in reality what happens when an employee leaves? All too often, we focus on getting our next recruit. The employee leaves and they never really have the chance to process their thoughts with someone who is willing to listen and can influence change. The consequence of harbouring negative feelings can damage your employer brand and team morale.  

How can you encourage meaningful feedback in an exit interview, and ensure it doesn’t become just a tick-box exercise? Who should have this conversation?

At Tassic, we advise setting the scene and structuring the conversation so that it doesn’t just become a ranting session with no constructive takeaways. Take some time to prepare for feedback sessions and document them.

We would advise

  • Uncovering feedback on people management and HR
  • Understanding an employee’s view of the work itself
  • Gain insights into their manager’s leadership style and effectiveness
  • Foster innovation by soliciting ideas for improvement
  • Treat departing employees with respect and gratitude

The conventional approach to exit interviews has always been to have them carried out by a neutral party to gain the most honest feedback. Traditionally this has been HR or external consultant.  In my opinion, I think a senior leader or even founders depending on the size of the business should engage in these types of discussions.  The feedback then goes to the heart of the business where potentially it is more likely to influence change.

How can you encourage meaningful feedback in an exit interview, and ensure it doesn't become just a tick-box exercise? Who should have this conversation?

A business associate of mine recently said that ‘people work for people’ so, more often than not, employee discontent isn’t just about the pay and benefits. Take this opportunity to gain an honest insight into management’s leadership style and effectiveness. For example, you can ask ‘what was your working relationship like with your manager? Did you get the support and feedback needed to enable you to contribute your best to the business?’  You may not always agree with the feedback provided by the departing employee but it’s important to hear it from an employee’s perspective.

Employee motivation, engagement, contribution and efficiency is linked to autonomy and being able to influence change.  Understanding an employee’s view about the work itself and what can be improved to make it more interesting and rewarding is a great way to improve talent retention.

Be open to suggestions for improvement.  If a departing employee is leaving because the business and/or role did not meet their expectations, ask them how they would have improved the situation.  Some may say it’s a little late at this stage but you could pick up a tip or two …

Remember departing employees represent your employer brand. Treat them with respect and gratitude as you never know what future opportunities they may bring your way.

Employee engagement and retention is nurtured by knowing there is an opportunity to feed views upwards. Employees should feel involved in decisions that affect them and that attention is going to be paid to the suggestions made. Done correctly meaningful feedback can motivate, elevate, and inspire growth.