Why Should You Care?


They’re leaving…why should you care about their opinions?

Have you ever read the employee reviews left on Glassdoor or those types of websites that former employees use to absolutely slam a former company? Makes you wonder what in the world is going on there. If you’re thinking of working for that company, it can really make you question your decision.

What if I told you there’s a way to reduce the number of rants that former employees may feel compelled to leave on a public internet forum? And what if I told you it wouldn’t cost you a penny…just a willingness to listen with an open mind?  Would you be willing to give it a try?

Here’s a simple truth – the value of listening to departing employees’ opinions – even those who are temporary or short-term employees like summer workers - have more worth than all the money you’ll ever spend on any form of advertising, marketing, or even networking time. Why? People believe the stories that your former employees have to tell, because they have nothing to lose by expressing their honest opinions.  

Instead of letting that valuable source of information and a potential company supporter leave without a wave good-bye, take the time to pick their brains for a candid look at what’s really going on in your company. All it takes is a little bit of time and a whole lot of self-control.

Now let me say this up front, I am not a big fan of “canned exit interviews”. But I am a big fan of finding out the real skinny about what’s going on in my company, doing what we can to keep good employees, and making changes that can  keep star performers from working out our door.  

Here are a few key points we suggest you keep in mind as you sit down to exchange ideas with that person who is almost out your door.

  • Don’t turn this meeting into a witch hunt. If your implied intention is to get the dirt on a poor performing manager or staff members who are not meeting the mark – then don’t waste your time. Your departing employee may want to vent, but your only opportunity to get quality information is to avoid letting the meeting turn into a “bash the bad-guy” session.

  • Give your departing employee a chance to express their opinions without push-back. Check your ego and your warrior instincts at the door. If your exiting employee thought that working for your company was all they wanted and needed, they likely wouldn’t be leaving. Listen with an open mind, and be courageous enough to ask them what your company could have done differently to improve their time with you.

  • Take the time to tell your exiting employee “thank you”. Give them a list of what you really appreciated about their contribution and why it means so much. Be sincere because everyone who worked for you contributed something to the company’s success…even if it was just showing up for work on time.

  • Encourage the departing employee to stay in touch and let them know that you will too. By keeping a connection to your former employee, you not only extend the relationship but also maintain an open door for future opportunities. As your former employee’s experiences and skills increase, they could become a valuable rehire or even a great referral source.

Meeting with departing employees to hear the litany of “why I’m leaving” stories will never be on most managers top ten list of things to do, however it can be a treasure trove of information and ideas you can use to build better employee relations. It may even lead to improved processes. But remember, this only works if you’re willing to ask the tough questions and listen to ugly truths with a judgement free and open mind.