What to Do When an Employee Quits and You Didn’t See It Coming


What to Do When an Employee Quits and You Didn’t See It Coming

Another good one? Leaving? What is going on?

There are many advantages to finding out why employees leave your business. These conversations, also known as exit interviews, can be done in a formal interview style or you could take someone out for a hot chocolate and chat. What’s most important for you is to take the opportunity to discover why they are really leaving. What you hear may surprise and disappoint you.

People change jobs all the time, so why bother?

Research from the RU OK Foundation published in 2012, identified 46% of Australian employees would rather look for a new job than address conflict at work. Considering the cost to you of recruiting and training new employees and the time it takes for them to be 100% productive, this is a frightening (and expensive) statistic.

Consequences for not holding exit interviews

If there is some conflict going on in your workplace which is not being managed or being poorly managed, wouldn’t you want to know? Think of the time it has taken you to build your business and your reputation. That can disappear very quickly once word is out that employees aren’t treated well.

The employee may be leaving because of more money or development opportunities but is there anything else or anyone else pushing them out the door? Missing this valuable opportunity to hold exit interviews to gain feedback on the real reason someone is leaving is something money can’t buy.

How to gain value from an exit interview

Exit interviews can be held over one or more sessions. These two-way exchanges between the departing employee and the business enables the employee to provide ideas, advice and constructive feedback about the workplace, while the workplace takes the opportunity to ensure they have collected all of the knowledge held by this employee to share with others.

Asking questions like those below, opens the door for the departing employee to share their perspective. Some employees may be forthright and open with comments while others still won’t take the opportunity to state how things are. They may need a referee in the future or, if you’re in a small industry, they need to come back to your business one day for a job.

Here are some questions to provide the employee with an opening to share their perspective around how people are treated in your workplace:

  • • What have you liked most about working here?
  • • What have you liked least about working here?
  • • What would we need to do differently to entice you to return to work with us?
  • • If there was an opportunity for you to return, who would be in your dream team and why?
  • • How do you think we could better treat our staff?

Keep in mind that as conflict is merely a difference of opinions, organisations need conflict to challenge the status quo as this leads to innovation and growth. When we have differing opinions, it’s important they are shared in a respectful manner. What we don’t need is sharing of opinions in a non-respectful manner which reduces or closes the lines of communication. This can lead to conflict which is poorly managed or not managed at all.

Be open to what you may hear in an exit interview. When you hear alarm bells, find out why you hadn’t heard this before now. Discover the culture in your workplace about sharing important information like this. It will be too late for this employee but with this new knowledge, you’ll be able to create a better workplace for the next one and who wouldn’t want to be known for that?

FINAL NOTE: If you have already had a good employee leave within the last few weeks, call them and ask if they’d like to meet to give you some feedback. You can’t afford not to.

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