Conduct Exit Interviews to create a healthy workplace culture

The other day I spoke to one HR Manager who had recently changed her job. At her last working day in the company, her manager sent her off with following words: „Go, get new experiences, see other companies work, and when the time is right you can always return!“ I am pretty convinced that such farewell speech is not prevalent in all organizations. Many companies often see leavers as traitors who are in search of greener grass. This attitude has been there for a long time, but times are changing. Our labor market is changing and it is getting harder and harder to recruit high performers or talents, as we today call them. Most of the companies can’t afford to close the door behind next leaving talent. This fact is also confirmed by the Corporate Culture and Boomerang Employee Study conducted by Workforce Institute at Kronos. In the survey of more than 1800 HR professionals, nearly half of respondents claim that their organization previously had a policy against rehiring former employees.

76 percent of the respondents say they are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees today than in the past.


Those, who were formerly seen as traitors are now seen as desired boomerang employees. There are of course different weaknesses on re-hiring former employees (you know saying, once a cheater always a cheater), but current hiring climate makes us look past that and concentrates on pros related to boomerang employees, such as:

– The hiring process is faster (especially when you are using headhunting);

– Cost of hiring is smaller (boomerang employee is just a phone call away);

– The speed of induction is faster (they know the procedures, people, culture, etc.);

– Succession rate is higher (we already know the person’s strengths and weaknesses).

So how do boomerang your former employees back to your organization? Conduct Exit Interviews. Ask them why they have decided to leave and is there anything that you could do to make them stay (in case you’d, of course, like to see them stay).

I would recommend focusing on three areas when conducting the interview: why they leave, would they return, and under what circumstances would they return. In some countries, it is not allowed by law to call former employees and ask them to return. So make sure that you know local legislation before you grab your phone to make a call to potential boomerang.

Dilemmas that you might be facing when conducting the interviews (but it is really up to you and your organization procedures, culture, and purpose of an interview):

– How to do: face to face interview or questionnaire, paper or online questionnaire, structured or unstructured interview?

– Who should do it: direct manager or 3rd party (you can use HR here or follow grandfather rule, etc.)

– When to do it: right after receiving a note of leaving, during last working day, or between?

However, you decide to conduct the interview make sure to listen to people and act on based on their feedback. This way you also show your current workforce that you actually care and that their views matter.

But the exit interview has another purpose: to make former employees your employer brand ambassadors! Today’s leavers might be your tomorrow’s employees, partners or customers! Do you know what they are thinking or talking about your organization? Before you send your employees off you might think about throwing them a little farewell party: say some kind words, wish them well, give small company gifts, and so on. Make them feel special and send them off with good memories of your organization.

Use headhunting! Next time, before publishing your job advert, give a call to your former employees. Even if they might decline your offer today they might contact you tomorrow when they are thinking about changing their job.

What is your experience with exit interviews and boomerang recruitment?


This post was initially published on LinkedIn

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