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When a valued employee resigns from your company, if you don’t find out what was behind their decision to leave, you are wasting the opportunity to learn precious information about your culture.

An exit surveys are when a worker who has resigned undergoes a survey before they leave, asking them for their thoughts about their job, their manager, the company as a whole, and examining why they have decided to quit.

These exit surveys are an incredibly valuable tool to gain insights into the thoughts and feelings of your employees that they might not share with you as long as they are in the job.

A staff member may not be comfortable criticising his manager, other team members, or how the work is structured, if he feels that he could lose his job for doing so. Once he has decided to leave, he may be willing to speak more freely.

 Exit Surveys should be strictly confidential and ideally should be handled by an independent third party. Employees must feel that what they say will be taken seriously, will not be passed on as office gossip, and won’t be used against them in future.

These interviews can be run by your company’s HR team, or you should engage an Human Resources services company to manage them. They must be done correctly in order to be effective, and if they are not handled properly there is a risk you will not get the information you need.

Once your staff member has decided to leave the role, they may feel more secure in telling you their true thoughts about why they are going.

You may be concerned that they will have negative feedback for you about your business, since they are departing, but it could be that they are leaving for family reasons, because they have been offered more money by another company, or because they simply want a change.

However, if they do give negative feedback, it’s important to listen to it carefully and remain neutral in your response.

Even if you don’t agree with what they say, the information may be extremely valuable in understanding not just what they think, but what others in the business think about how the team is managed.

This is especially true if they are a high performer – if such a person leaves your company you must find out why so that you can plan ahead to prevent other high performers from feeling the same way in the future.

The loss of high performers can cost your business dearly so it is worth spending the time and effort to gather their feedback and paint a picture of how top-performing staff feels about working in your company and how they want to be treated.

But even if a low-performing staff member resigns, it can be useful to get their feedback in an exit interview so that you may learn why they were not performing and what was holding them back in their job.