The Value of Exit Interviews

by Kim Malone-Schultz

Failure to retain your experienced staff can cost your firm thousands of dollars as well as loss of knowledge management. It is therefore vital to recognise this and take proactive steps to reduce staff turnover, and determine ways to retain your employees.

Exit interviews are a start in the right direction to work towards achieving this. Generally exit interviews are not contemplated until an employee resigns, however used wisely and correctly can be a very helpful and practical tool for your firm moving forward. The benefit of this research helps to assist you with the overall performance of your firm, particularly now at a time where our employment market is experiencing a shortage of qualified experienced legal professionals and legal administrative personnel.

Exit interviews are generally conducted when an employee has resigned and before they leave a firm. One of purposes of the exit interview is to obtain feedback on why your employee is leaving. Another purpose is to find out what the employee likes or dislikes about their employment, what areas of the firm that they feel needs improvement and often even though it may be too late for the exiting employee- they may leave with a more positive view of the firm, and you get to retain some of the employee's knowledge.

The Exit interview will offer your firm the opportunity to find out exactly what the employee who is leaving thinks, which otherwise in normal circumstances may have been difficult to obtain. In this Exit process most employees will not be afraid to say what they really think, and are happy to provide suggestions on how to improve such things as morale, working conditions and general suggestions for improvements to your firm etc.
Exit interviews are one of the most widely used methods of gathering employee feedback, along with employee satisfaction surveys. Exit interviews are best attended to one on one and are of course voluntary. However should an exit interview not be granted by the person leaving, alternatively your firm could try a questionnaire, to be completed and returned prior to the exiting staff member leaving your firm.

The process of the Exit interview can be conducted in a variety of ways being either face to face, over the telephone, using a written questionnaire, or via the internet if you have the appropriate software. Ideally the best results will always be achieved from a face to face interview or meeting. The results can be analysed both individually and collectively over a period of time, to determine the best employee practice and strategies for the future.

In order to achieve the maximum benefit from your Exit interviews, you will need to make sure you have a proven tested method in place, to be able to achieve the right results and benefits. It would be a waste of your time to conduct any type of research without first knowing how and where the information could be most useful, but also how to best apply the information gathered for the benefit of your practice.

The best result of this Exit process is being able to document all feedback received from an employee who resigns, allowing your firm to identify and resolve any key issues that may impact on employee retention, as well control costs associated with employee turnover and training. The cost of losing an employee is not just financial, but a loss in knowledge management as well, which in the long term is far more harmful to the success of your practice.

In conclusion the process of an exit interview is possibly your last opportunity to gain valuable information from the exiting employee about your work culture, office environment and the effectiveness of your internal procedures. Whether this persons' opinions are positive or negative, their response is far more useful and objective than no response at all. Be clear who may use this information and you may wish to consider obtaining this information on a more regular basis, such as through Staff Surveys or Questionnaires.

Kim Malone-Schultz, Managing Director of Kim Malone and Associates Legal HR and Recruitment Specialists.


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