Why Skipping Exit Interviews Could Be Hindering Your Company’s Growth



As a boss and business owner, you know it sucks to lose a good employee, and thanks to recent studies, you also know that you’re paying a premium every time an employee quits (specifically, an average of 20% of an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement), but what if I told you that it’s actually what you don’t know that costing you the most money?  

Too often we, as bosses, choose to take the easy way out and accept the classic vague resignation reasons that have nothing to do with us or our company. It seems healthier to forgo the ego bruising and avoid the awkward resignation conversation altogether, but what we need to realize is that we’re paying a premium for staying the same.  

I worked with a CEO that was so resistant to employee feedback and criticism that whenever an employee quit, he would justify their departure by coming up with all of these reasons why they weren’t good at their job and how the company was better off without them. He would write them off as “millennials” who were lazy and didn’t understand the realities and sacrifices of having a job. For that reason, the company remained completely stagnant. The quality of the employees continued to decrease as more and more negative Glassdoor reviews were posted about management and toxic company culture. The end result? Increased overhead and decreased profit margins because it took more mediocre employees to complete the same tasks an outstanding employee was capable of. Accepting candid and honest feedback could have changed all that!      

In order to avoid the same fate, I encourage you to put aside the pride and absorb that critical feedback. What you don’t know is hurting you, so you have to ask resigning employees to show you your blind spots. Who better to ask than an employee who’s worked for you in your company? The resigning employee might hesitate at first, but don’t be afraid to dig deeper and keep asking why. Remember, your attitude and demeanor set the tone for the encounter.  



Follow the steps below to draw real, open, and honest feedback out of an employee who’s just resigned:

  • In a kind, non-threatening way, ask the resigning employee to meet with you privately.

  • Make sure your body language communicates you’re open and inviting conversation-- keep arms uncrossed, palms slightly angled upward, lean in, and nod while you listen. Instead of sitting across a desk from each other, remove any barriers between you by sitting on a couch or on the same side of a conference room table.  

  • Preface the conversation with your intention to make the company an amazing place to work. Let the resigning employee know that you’re sorry to lose her, and you highly value her honest and candid feedback. Reassure her that what she says will be used to improve the work environment for everyone else.

  • Instead of asking her why she quit, ask her for reasons why she did not stay. This will guide her toward giving direct applicable feedback about what you can change within the company.

  • Ask for specifics. What influence did her job duties, work environment, colleagues, or company culture have on her decision? What barriers existed that made her job harder?

  • Now for the tough stuff-- Ask where you failed her. What could you have done to be a better mentor or make her job more fulfilling?  How could you have helped her do her job effectively?

  • Find out what she’s hoping to gain from her new opportunity. What enticed her to take this new job? What does she expect to benefit or learn there that she couldn’t at your company?

  • Thank her for her feedback. Ensure her that you will take these things to heart and make positive changes within the company.

We get it, these conversations are tough- for you as the person receiving feedback, but even more so for the employee who has to give the feedback. Typically, it’s better to have a third party come in and do the exit interview. Outsourcing exit interviews increases your chances of getting valuable candid, unfiltered feedback you can use to improve your company. Here at Gritty, we specialize in tough convos which is why we offer HR packages that include employee coaching and separation conversations. Reach out to our team to find out more!