The importance of exit interviews during the “Great Resignation”

Organizations should be doing them already. But if they aren’t doing them or aren’t doing anything with the data, how will they recover from this most recent pandemic side-effect?

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

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Black large sign stating “EXIT” on a white wall in a parking garage
Black large sign stating “EXIT” on a white wall in a parking garage

Authors note: Because of Medium’s refusal to address its accessibility issues for both authors and readers, I’ve moved my last three years of blogs to Substack. Please sign up there for notices of all new articles. Thank you for your continued readership and support.

I just updated my CV last month. Disclaimer: because I got a promotion, not because I’m looking for a job — lots of my coworkers and my boss read my articles, so I felt the need to add this detail :-)

I’ve worked in tech and the legal profession for more than 35 years at this point, at a total of eleven jobs at companies ranging from 50 employees to hundreds of thousands. Only three of the ten jobs I have left asked me to do an exit interview, and one of them was because I *demanded* an exit interview to tell them how very screwed up their company was.

Why are exit interviews important?

Even before the #GreatResignation, exit interviews were an important but largely overlooked device in the HR toolkit.

Organizations frequently underestimate the cost of turnover because it doesn’t show up as a line item or have a cost center. Specialized employees cost up to 400 percent of their annual salary to replace. At Silicon Valley prices, one senior developer leaving can easily cost a company north of $1 million.

Professional burnout was on the rise across the board long before the pandemic started. All the pandemic has done is accelerate it. People have crystallized in their minds what is important to them after having lost time with friends and family members, in some cases, permanently. More “fully remote” positions mean a broader array of employment opportunities for good employees.

Finally, burnout is largely preventable. Organizations that pay attention to feedback, career opportunities, team dynamics, and organizational culture have much lower rates of burnout…

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Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.