Making Goodbyes Count

With more employees than ever quitting their jobs amid the ongoing pandemic, you may want to review and expand the questions you ask employees in exit interviews.

The Great Resignation continues to unfold. That means a huge opportunity to capture information about your company’s employee experience. Organizations long have used exit interviews to capture such information. With more employees than ever leaving at the same time at many companies, following the unprecedented ongoing event of the pandemic, you may want to review and expand the questions you ask out-going employees.

Glassdoor offers these “13 Must-Ask Exit Interview Questions.” Top questions recommend by Glassdoor include:

  • Why did you begin looking for a new job?
  • What ultimately led you to accept the new position?
  • Did you feel you were equipped to do your job well?

Those are all good questions to ask. Now, you should consider pandemic experience-related questions to add. For example:

  • What were your greatest work-related fears during the pandemic?
  • Did you feel our company adequately addressed those concerns?
  • Is there anything you wish we had done over the last year-and-a-half that we didn’t do?
  • Did the pandemic change your expectations for the workplace? If so, how?
  • How does the organization where you will be working in your new job meet those new workplace expectations?
  • Did you learn anything new about your manager during the crisis of the pandemic? If so, what did you learn?
  • Is there anything new you learned about our company during the pandemic pertaining to how we serve customers? If so, what?
  • Did you contract COVID-19 over the last year and a half? If so, did you feel adequately supported by the company? Did you think the company’s procedure for notifying those you were in contact with, and the other aspects of our safety protocol, were sufficient?
  • What are a few ways you feel we could improve service to customers during the pandemic?
  • Is there anything you haven’t been asked yet that you would like to share about your recent experience at our company?

The ongoing pandemic is such a new and strenuous experience that employees are likely to have many insights into how your company could have better supported them. It’s also a chance to see how your response to the pandemic compares to that of other companies. For example, you might learn what you could have done better when employees tell you they are leaving because the companies they accepted new jobs at will allow them a more flexible schedule with greater continuing telecommuting options.

Salary is only one incentive keeping employees with you (or not). The other part is the employee’s level of happiness with the workplace and how supported they feel. If an employee caught COVID, they may have been disappointed by the lack of caring expressed by their manager, co-workers, and the company as a whole. Or maybe, just the opposite, and they were heartened by all the well wishes and offers of help.

When you go through a challenging time, corporate culture and your company’s ability to pivot quickly and deftly (or not) becomes apparent. In addition to damaging relationships with customers, failing to respond quickly and competently enough during a crisis can be damaging to relationships with employees. How long did it take you to allow employees to work from home? Did you accommodate work-from-home requests before the mandated lockdowns began? If an elderly employee or one with a preexisting condition came to you before the lockdown asking if they could work from home, did you generally allow it?

When a company is there for employees in a crisis, the company becomes more than a fair weather friend to employees. If you can show employees you can give them what they need during a stressful time, there is a greater chance they will stick with you during all weathers, including a seemingly never-ending pandemic.

Money can be an incentive for out-going employees that you may think you can’t compete with. However, a corporate culture that strives to create the most productive, pleasant, and friction-free workplace will be a powerful incentive to counter offers of jobs with higher pay. Your employees need and want a certain level of compensation, but one thing money can’t buy is the happiness of working with people whose company you enjoy.

Have you updated your exit interview questions to gather information about how well you supported employees during the pandemic? If so, what did you learn?