Employers don’t like to lose great employees. Sometimes the worker’s choice to leave has nothing to do with the company, but exit interviews are one way to find out about any sources of employee dissatisfaction and disengagement. These can help employers learn from their mistakes and gain insight into ways in which their workplace may not be as inclusive, accepting, or conducive to respectful collaboration as they may have thought.
Including questions about diversity and inclusion in exit interviews provides opportunities for valuable discussions and hopefully frank feedback. Face-to-face interviews can invite rich discussion, but not everyone may be comfortable or at their most candid in these situations. Exiting employees can be invited to submit feedback in writing, as some may express themselves more effectively this way. An exit survey can also provide quantitative and qualitative data.
Examples can help in developing an effective exit interview template. The Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance at Appalachian State University expresses the institution’s reasons and procedures for conducting exit interviews here. Its exit survey provides a good example of questions that can be asked. A list of possible reasons for leaving are listed, and these include “unwelcoming workplace,” “lack of diversity,” and “work environment.” Hopefully survey respondents will expand on these items in the remarks section or in response to the open-ended questions, such as “What changes would you make at ASU as a result of your experience? For example, how could your working conditions have been improved?”
Employers will have the impetus to examine their work culture and diversity and inclusion practices if they discover that these are affecting turnover and engagement. All employees, not just those leaving a company, should have avenues to give feedback about inclusion and have their concerns taken seriously and their ideas applied.