Pattie Hunt Sinacole provides suggestions on exit interviews

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Q:  I just sent in my resignation notice.  I sent it to my direct manager.  Who else should get a copy?  HR?  Most employees are asked to participate in an exit interview.  I want to be honest, but I also don’t want to bash the company.  There are definite areas, on which to improve.

A: Exit interviews can provide important information to a company.  Companies, especially in 2022, are looking for ways to attract and retain talent.  I would suggest sending it to your manager only.  If HR does not contact you in a a few days, you should ask your manager if they have informed HR.    Here are some recommendations:

  1. Ensure that your feedback is confidential.  Most organizations will respect confidential feedback, especially if it a larger organization.  With a smaller organization, it is a challenge.  Larger organizations often compile the data for leadership and are able to draw some conclusions.  Larger organizations may find that 50% are leaving for a role which provides upward mobility of a career track.  While smaller organizations, with a smaller sample size, are not able to provide that feedback sometimes, especially if only one employee left.
  2. Try to offer both positive and constructive negative feedback.  This is not the time to unload all of your negative feelings.  You may convey a feeling of bitterness.  This may also damage your relationships with colleagues.  Who knows who you will be working with in the future?  It also may discourage your employer from ever re-hiring you.  We never know what the future may bring.  Rehires are an excellent source of talent.  High potential employees, who move to another company, should be “on a list” to contact again, if a role becomes available.
  3. Offer factual data.  Think about your exit interview before it occurs.  How will you deliver the information and how will it be received?
  4. Why do you decide to leave?  Be open about that information.  Think about what could have retained you.  Was that possible in your current company?
  5. You may receive a counter offer.  Think about this long and hard.  I think counter offers are often “band-aids” and usually don’t address the true reasons behind your resignation.
  6. Offer recommendations.  “ABC might want to consider a 2pm close on Fridays, maybe every other week over the summer.”  Or “I feel like we lost the ability to connect outside of work, during the pandemic. Other companies seem to have harbor cruises, cookouts, even dinners under a tent.”
  7. Avoid bragging about your new role.  It may come across as sour grapes.
  8. This is the time to ask about employee benefits and how your resignation will impact benefits.  Will your medical benefits end on the last day of the month?  Should you consider COBRA to extend your benefits?  What about vacation?  Do you have unused vacation that should be paid out?

Finally, keep the door open.  Keep it open to connect with former colleagues who may be able to provide a professional reference in the future.  Keep it open to ask a former co-worker their opinion on a project.  Keep it open because you may run into a former team member at a conference or even on your bus.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.