If you own a small business, the chances are good that you fill multiple roles yourself. For instance, you could be a one-person Human Resources department.
In this capacity, you may need to take on responsibilities like conducting an exit interview with an employee. Following are some suggestions for what to do in these interviews to help you protect your business.
Ask why they are leaving
An employee might resign and explain that they found a higher-paying job or want to spend more time at home. On the surface, it may not seem like any more needs to be said.
However, the goal of exit interviews is to have a more robust discussion, which can reveal bigger issues like:
- Problematic workplace policies or environments
- Management ineffectiveness
- Compensation or benefit programs that are not competitive
- Hiring and retention blind spots
- Unfair promotion strategies
This is not the time or place to get defensive or vindictive. Instead, use the resignation as an opportunity to mine valuable information that will help you improve your business in the future.
Review contractual agreements
Reminding the employee of any contractual agreements in place is crucial, as it can prevent disclosures of proprietary information. Go over the terms of any:
- Employment agreement
- Restrictive covenant agreements (e.g., noncompetes, non-solicitations, confidentiality, and non-disparagement clauses)
- Trade secrets
Review the restrictions in place and verbalize the contractual expectations of how (and if) the employee will discuss their experience and the knowledge they gained at your company.
Collect company property
An exit interview should include collecting any property you provided to the employee. Have a checklist and make sure the employee leaves behind company-supplied:
- Access keys
- Checkbooks/ credit cards
- Company documents
You will also want to review their access to your business’s social media, financial and other accounts and change login credentials, if necessary.
Going through this list at the exit interview can eliminate disputes regarding failure to return company property.
End it professionally and respectfully
It may not be easy seeing an employee leave, especially when your workforce is a small group. But while the departure might make you feel sad or angry, it can be crucial to terminate the working relationship as amicably as possible.
This approach can reduce the risk of legal disputes and help keep your business’s reputation intact.