Workplace Nepotism: The Signs and Consequences

Workplace Nepotism: The Signs and Consequences

In 2014, a study conducted by the American Census Bureau found that by age 30, about 22% of sons will be working for the same employer at the same time as their fathers. That figure is far too high to cite mere statistical coincidence and for employers, it incites questions about workplace nepotism and the potential of its silent influence within their own organisations.

Workplace nepotism can have unforseen consequences

Workplace Nepotism vs Referrals

Workplace nepotism refers to when individuals in positions of managerial or executive power within an organisation, use their influence to hire, promote or offer opportunities to family members and/or friends for any reason that’s not purely related to their knowledge and experience. It’s important to note here that workplace nepotism is very different from referrals which are only recommendations, and based sincerely on one’s skillsets and employee-related qualities.

This applies even if the referral is of a relative or friend – nepotism specifically refers to cases in which the individual who benefits, lacks the skills and/or qualifications for the role and is being unfairly advantaged over candidates who are a better fit for the opportunity.  In contrast, whilst a referral may offer visibility to the candidate, it only gets them through the door and does not become a decision-making factor from then on.

Workplace nepotism itself is not necessarily illegal because there are no outright laws against it, particularly if an organisation is not a public employer. However, it is a form of workplace discrimination that can still pose a host of problems for employers. Staying aware of how nepotism operates, the forms it can take and its impact is necessary for any employer that wishes to avoid unethical workplace behaviour and ensure just and equal opportunities within their business.

How can workplace nepotism take form?

Whilst the manner in which workplace nepotism manifests can vary depending on a company’s organisational structure, recruitment and promotion processes and the personnel in current positions of authority, there are patterns that make it easier to identify its occurrence.

The following are some examples of how workplace nepotism can take shape in a company:

    • Providing a relative or friend  with all the questions and/or answers for an employment or promotion interview beforehand 
    • Lack of disciplinary action and greater leniency extended toward family/friend employees 
    • Hiring a relative and/or friend for a role that is yet to be advertised and they are not qualified for 
    • Giving friends or family in the company preference when it comes to training and development opportunities
    • Creating job or hiring criteria with a relative/friend in mind 
    • Having lowered standards and expectations for work from employees who are relatives/friends 
    • Family/friend employees earning more for the same role as other employees

Consequences of workplace nepotism 

The consequences of nepotism are unavoidable – sooner or later, the undeserving beneficiary’s lack of knowledge will show, whether this is due to poor performance or other employees having to fill the gap in work quality. When this happens, especially on a repeated basis, it can start to hurt the company’s finances and workplace culture. This can occur through varying different means of which some examples are described below: 

1. Toxic workplace culture

Hiring, promoting or generally favouring a family member or friend will inevitably create tension with existing employees who’ve worked hard at their roles but have been overlooked instead. Workplace nepotism can cause feelings of resentment and anger to arise between workers which are counterproductive to good teamwork and healthy employee relations. This in turn will negatively shape employee outcomes, decrease employee satisfaction as well as harm the brand reputation of the company.

2. Increase in employee turnover rates

If workplace nepotism leads to employees feeling as though they are not recognised for their work or will not be given room to grow due to opportunities being biased towards certain workers, they will feel more inclined to leave. Favouring individuals who are underqualified on the sole basis of your relationship with them only serves to communicate to other employees that it doesn’t matter how hard they work because their efforts will not reap many rewards. In order to be appreciated and treated fairly when it comes to growth opportunities, they will turn to other organisations instead to progress their careers.

3. Lack of diversity 

Workplace nepotism can negatively shape an organisation’s attempt to diversify its workforce. When one favours the hiring of family members and/or friends, it is likely they are from the same background as the person making the decision. In a world where corporate diversity is particularly valued, this can be detrimental to the growth of the company.  

workplace nepotism can reduce diversity
4. Decreased productivity and/or poor work performance 

A person who’s in a role they don’t have the skills or knowledge is a waste of a company’s valuable time and resources. Their colleagues will end up having to pick up their workload and have to find a way to juggle their own responsibilities alongside this, creating a reduction in productivity as well as impacting the level of quality in the work produced. This can in turn create resentment that will quickly build towards the underperforming employee and those in management positions who are forcing the team to pull the extra weight.

5. Possibility of legal consequences

Whilst nepotism is not outrightly illegal, workplace discrimination can still result in legal consequences for an organisation. If an employee thinks that they’ve been denied a role they deserve in favour of a relative or a friend, an employer can be found guilty of workplace discrimination

Is workplace nepotism all bad?

Workplace nepotism is an inefficient and damaging practice that must be avoided in corporate settings. However, when it comes to working with close friends and/or family members, there are some advantages that may actually enable better results for an organisation.  Knowing what these are can help employers recognise how multifaceted nepotism is and why, when there is a good work-related reason, one may be drawn to hiring someone they already know.

The following are a few reasons why an individual could want to hire a family member/friend (note that if this person is adequately qualified and skilled, this is not considered nepotism):

    • As someone selecting a person you want to be doing important work for you, a family member or friend can be beneficial in the sense that you are already well aware of their strengths and weaknesses and the ways in which their contribution could benefit the company. This knowledge is not acquirable when meeting new candidates in a traditional recruitment process so familiar options can be more desirable.
    • Finding employees who share the same core values and represent the company’s vision is a key priority in recruitment. A family member or friend is likely to share similar beliefs to the individual exerting their influence, and hence better reflect the company’s values.
    • A person whose been hired because of their ties to someone higher up may be more likely to work harder as a result of their connection to the organisation and their desire to prove their value. They have an extra incentive to do their best because their efforts also reflect on the employee who utilised their authority on their behalf.

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In examining nepotism as a whole, it is easy to recognise the serious consequences it can pose for an organisation and requires strong management and leadership from the employer to keep it in check. Whilst this does not mean that nepotism is inherently bad for an organisation or always fails, it is not sustainable in the long run as it creates greater opportunities for substandard employee performances and contributes to a broader toxic working environment fueled by envy and resentment. 

4 Important Steps in an Employee Theft Investigation

4 Important Steps in an Employee Theft Investigation

Whether it’s hundreds of dollars or millions of them, an employee theft investigation can be stressful and complicated to manage for any employer. Whilst a few missing office supplies will not warrant much concern, theft in the workplace does not need to be extreme to cause long-lasting consequences for the organisation. For this reason, all allegations or suspicions of theft should be addressed seriously to minimise any potential damage. An employee theft investigation should be commenced as soon as there are reasonable grounds to do so – with 88% of theft cases including attempts to conceal the fraud, how soon you begin could mean all the difference in the investigation’s outcome

employee theft investigations must take into consideration many different factors

An employee theft investigation can reveal an organisation’s vulnerabilities

Before we delve into the specifics of conducting an employee theft investigation, an important aspect to keep in mind throughout is looking out for any motives or driving factors that could have pushed the employee into making such a decision.

Whilst it may be convenient to assume a worker only steals due to greed or simply ‘because they can’, this is not always the case and is a shallow interpretation that fails to capture the true complexity behind many cases. Opportunity is only one component of the fraud triangle, a model that examines why people may commit fraud, and it’s important to step back and look at all the factors together.

Attempting to look deeper into the decision during the employee theft investigation can aid employers to protect their organisation from future attempts, particularly if any of the causes relate to the company’s organisational processes that can be improved and strengthened.

Taking note of the situation’s context (this could involve the employee’s financial struggles, security vulnerabilities in the company or simply a predisposition to thieving) will shape how your company recovers and grows from the incident. 

For example, if the employee theft investigation reveals obvious holes in the company’s internal controls that encouraged the individual to thieve, they need to be patched up before someone else exploits them.In another example, an employee theft investigation may not reveal any such cause and this may mean needing to revise your employee screening, recruitment and management processes. 

Steps to include in your employee theft investigation


1. Assessing the need for an employee theft investigation

The first step in any case of theft is to examine the circumstances and resulting need for an employee theft investigation to occur. As discussed earlier, some cases may not warrant the time and resources that an investigation requires. However, it may be possible that you decide to investigate smaller incidents to set an employee standard and discourage more serious cases of theft. This is why this first step is an important one that provides the employer and other relevant authorities in management/HR an opportunity to set out their objectives and aims for the rest of the employee theft investigation.

 At this stage, depending on the nature of the theft, seeking legal advice may be wise to help guide the process and ensure the company’s protection. If your organisation has insurance of any form, it will also be important to notify them of your intentions and any relevant details.

2. Confidentiality and safety

Ensuring confidentiality and taking steps to make sure that any suspected employees are not subjected to ill-treatment is critical to the integrity of the investigation. Discretion is key and lacking it can lead to serious legal consequences in the future. People can make hasty conclusions based on office gossip or what little information they are privy to and this can be injurious to all involved parties. You can offer employees being investigated protection in various ways but typically, the worker is temporarily reassigned to a different team or advised to take a leave of absence whilst the employee theft investigation is carried out.

3. Conducting employee interviews

Regardless of the various processes and steps your company’s employee theft investigation involves, conducting interviews will be one of the most challenging aspects of the entire proceedings. The interview can be approached in many different ways but this should be decided and planned beforehand – one popular and effective option you can look into is the P.E.A.C.E model.

The interview will be one of the only opportunities for the employee in question to share their perspectives and for the employer to ask important questions about their involvement. Making sure that it is hosted with the aim of an open and honest conversation rather than an attempt to pressure or coerce the employee into a confession should be prioritised. Additionally, it is also crucial to document the interview (with the employee’s consent) correctly and with adequate detail so you may refer back to it as the investigation progresses.

4. Disciplinary action

Once a conclusion has been reached with the employee theft investigation, if a worker has been found guilty there must be some form of disciplinary action taken in accordance with company policy. If the theft involves extremely large sums of money or is a repeated case of theft, termination may be considered. In such cases, having the investigation and evidence clearly recorded is important in the scenario that your decision is questioned.

However, its likely cases will consist of smaller theft and you’ll have to seek alternative forms of discipline such as suspension, demotion or requesting restitution.


an employee theft investigation must be navigated carefully
What Can You Do to Prevent Theft?

Whilst having an employee theft investigation model in place is necessary, avoiding having to conduct them altogether would be ideal. Realistically speaking, theft can’t be prevented in its entirety but there are strong measures you can establish within the workplace that discourage employees from attempting fraud. This can include:

    • Within your employee contract include actions such as automatic suspension or dismissal that are enforceable in cases of employee theft
    • Have a strong reporting system in place that employees can use to report theft anonymously (remember that this does not mean you should automatically assign guilt to every accused person)
    • Actively discourage theft and foster a workplace environment that has zero tolerance for fraud
    • During induction and other training opportunities, discuss employee theft in detail and explain the consequences of theft as well as the organisation’s stance on the matter
    • Have a strong employee screening process in place to identify potential red flags

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Employee theft investigation can turn out to be a drawn-out, tiring process for both employer and employees. Making sure that you have a plan and steps in place to follow will allow it to go as smoothly as possible and avoid unnecessary conflict. The route you take will depend on the nature of the theft, the amount of loss and factors that are unique to your business. Regardless, including the steps above in your employee theft investigation will be necessary to eventually uncover what truly happened in as little time as possible.





Transform Your Investigative Interviews with the 5 Step PEACE Model

Transform Your Investigative Interviews with the 5 Step PEACE Model

At the core of a successful workplace investigation are investigative interview strategies that are effective at drawing out the truth without discounting their professionalism and integrity. Despite popular belief, an accusatorial interviewing style that attempts to pressure the defendant into answering truthfully is not very efficient, particularly within the corporate context where it has been considered outdated for some time now. Furthermore, this method can quickly breach ethical boundaries and often relies unfairly on confirmation biases to reach conclusions. 

In contrast, studies show that investigative interviews that utilise rapport-building techniques perform better in prompting honesty and accuracy from responders. In the late 20th century, when this research was unfolding, a collaborative effort between psychologists and law enforcement emerged in the UK that aimed to create a new framework of investigative interviewing that would tackle the challenges posed by the accusatorial style.

From this enterprise came the P.E.A.C.E model, a now internationally accepted method of conducting investigative interviews. This article will delve into how the P.E.A.C.E model operates and can enable your workplace investigation interviews to be far more successful whilst remaining professional and respectful.

P.E.A.C.E is a framework for inestigative interviews

What is the P.E.A.C.E model for investigative interviews?

The P.E.A.C.E model is a framework for investigative interviewing that has been implemented globally in many industries in both the public and private sectors over the past few decades. It is flexible by nature and can be utilised in a range of contexts from law enforcement to corporate environments. 

The acronym P.E.A.C.E stands for the five different stages of investigative interviews the model is founded upon. When expanded, the letters refer to:

P – Preparation and Planning

E- Engage and Explain

A- Account, Clarification, Challenge

C- Closure

E- Evaluation

Breaking down the five stages of the P.E.A.C.E. model for investigative interviews


1. Planning and preparation

As the first stage of the investigative interview process, the planning and preparation phase gives the interviewer, alongside any other personnel involved in the investigation, time to organise themselves and make important decisions regarding the investigation. The team must decide here which parties are required to partake in interviews or perhaps whether they are necessary at all.

Preparation for the investigative interview must be thorough and consider all relevant events, issues and evidence. Perhaps most importantly, the objective of the interview must be identified as without it, there is no guiding goal that can direct the interview process towards a successful outcome. 

The interviewer has a range of considerations to make during this time, for example:

      • Writing up a plan for the interview
      • Deciding practicalities such as interview format and location (or even remote interviewing which may be necessary for certain contexts)
      • Any relevant characteristics of the interviewee that need to be catered to 
      • Make sure they have revised all relevant information and are up to date with the current status of events
      • What important questions must be asked to obtain relevant information
      • How the interview will be recorded and documented

These considerations ultimately work to make sure that the interview aligns with the overall aims of the investigation. Whilst the number of tasks that need to be completed may be overwhelming, the planning and preparation stage is invaluable in the investigative interview process. It allows the interviewer to make sure they have covered all their bases and mentally prepare for the interview with confidence that there is a thorough plan in place for how to proceed with the investigative interview.

2. Engage and explain

 Building rapport and having open communication are central to the P.E.A.C.E model. It is essential to actively seek to do this as soon as the investigative interview begins, from the moment the interview walks through the door and introductions are made. Encouraging conversation during investigative interviews can be difficult, especially when the interviewee is likely to be nervous and cautious. However active listening and engagement on the interviewer’s part help to establish and maintain rapport throughout the interview. 

Consciously encouraging and engaging the interview helps the investigative interview by allowing the questioner to:

      • Pick up on new important details that are relevant to the investigation
      • Manage and guide the conversation towards relevant topics
      • Deliver a sincere interest in the responder’s perspective
investigative interviews have many considerations

Furthermore, at the commencement of the investigative interview, the aims and purpose of the session which were identified in the planning and preparation stage should be conveyed to the interviewee. The structure and plan for the interview should be communicated as well as the interviewee’s rights and legal obligations.

Additionally, it is helpful to remind them that they are in a confidential environment and are free to ask for clarification or voice concerns at any point they feel the need to. Without ensuring that all the standard requirements of an investigative interview are met in this manner, the entire session can be deemed invalid by a court if the investigation results in legal conflict. 

3. Account, clarification, challenge

When seeking to gain an accurate account of the interviewee’s experiences requires a combination of both initiation and support from the interviewer throughout the session. Doing so is a skill that improves with practice, but common and useful ways to implement it within the investigative interview can include:

    • Parroting – Where the interviewer repeats what they hear back to the interviewee in a summarised form. This is very effective as it highlights that you are listening and hearing them, ensures that you interpreted the information correctly and provides an opportunity for clarification.
    • Making no judgment – Make sure no accusatory remarks are made at any point no matter the content of the conversation and your personal opinions. Doing so is a surefire way to shut down open communication channels and leave the interviewee feeling upset and unwilling to share their honest experiences for fear of repercussion and judgment.
    • Being patient – Whilst you may have a limited amount of time set for the interview and a number of questions to get through, try and allow the interviewee to speak their thoughts without being hurried along. Don’t try to fill in silences, finish their sentences or interrupt them (unless they have strayed very far off topic) as it can cut the flow of communication and cause important details to be missed.

    • Non-verbal communication – Maintaining open body language and gesturing appropriately helps to relax the atmosphere into one less formal or hostile.

When asking questions, try and ensure they remain short and simple and do not contain jargon or other languages which may be misunderstood by the interviewee. There is a range of question types you can employ based on what information you need and these are:

      • Open-ended 
      • specific-closed
      • forced-choice
      • multiple
      • leading
4. Closure

Before concluding the investigative interview, the responder should be given time to ask any questions they may have. Any notes or recordings made should be secured alongside anything the interviewee’s personal requests for any clarifications. The steps following the interview, as per the company’s guidelines, should be explained so that the interviewee knows what to expect in the coming weeks.

5. Evaluation

Following an interview, the interviewer and the rest of the workplace investigation team should evaluate the content of the interview and its outcomes. This evaluation will be crucial to any decisions about the next steps of the investigation and future action. The interview process is also examined so that the interviewer is able to reflect on their abilities and note any areas of improvement for future reference.

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As a result of its non-accusatory, information-gathering approach to investigative interviewing, the P.E.A.C.E model is suitable for any type of interviewee and prioritises obtaining an unbiased, fact-based account from them. The model pushes interviewers to be fair and open-minded and to pursue reliable, true, and accurate information. Implementing this model or even adapting your current framework in reflection of P.E.A.C.E’s key values will be a great start towards more effective investigative interviews. 




6 Methods of Employee Theft and How You Can Prevent Them

6 Methods of Employee Theft and How You Can Prevent Them

Employee theft refers to the stealing or improper usage of a company’s money, physical and intellectual property, services and time by an employee.  Whilst no employer wishes to believe their workers would steal from them, the reality is that employee theft causes businesses to lose $50 billion a year and results in 1 in 3 bankruptcies. 

In fact, research suggests that employers are increasingly reluctant to believe their employees are stealing and this is actually contributing to the problem. In order to protect your workplace from the consequences of employee theft, it’s important to acknowledge its potential existence and understand what you can do to prevent it.

Employee theft can take on various forms

Forms of employee theft

In order to broaden your understanding of employee theft, it’s important to first recognise the various forms it can take. 

1. Monetary theft

In businesses that deal with a lot of cash, like those within the retail industry, monetary theft is the most common type of employee theft. 

Examples of how this can occur include:

      • Overcharging and pocketing the difference 
      • Keeping the cash when customers use it to make purchases 
      • Stealing directly from the register
2. Inventory theft

Any business that sells physical products is at risk of inventory theft. Employees can find means to pocket items for their personal usage or even to sell externally for profit. A 2018 study found that employees were responsible for about a third of a business’s inventory shrink


3. Time theft

Time theft refers to when employees are paid for hours they did not actually spend working. 

This can include:

      • Entering the incorrect number of hours worked
      • Intentionally not working when they are required to be doing so (i.e. personal online shopping at work)
      • Falsely entering when one clocked in and out at work 
      • Lunch breaks that greatly exceed the contracted time

4. Intellectual property theft

Theft of intellectual property is when an employee steals data that is confidential in nature such as trade secrets and passwords. Research shows that one in four employees leaving an organisation steals data on their way out. Whilst this data is typically the employee’s own documents and not always done with malicious intent, it puts the company at risk for harm if the employee decides to use it for personal gain or it ends up in the wrong hands.  

5. Services theft

Service theft typically occurs in businesses that don’t offer products tangible but rather perform tasks that clients pay them for such as airlines and banks. When employees manipulate the authority they have by using these services for their own purpose or without clearance from management, service theft has occurred. When it goes unchecked, it can eat into company resources, funds and time.

6. Payroll theft

Payroll theft occurs when employees handling payroll duties or any form of financial task abuses their authority and steals. For example, this can mean writing cheques for imaginary employees or cashing in cheques that are for other employees. 


Consequences of employee theft 

Employee theft causes far-reaching consequences that impact not only the employer but other employees in the workplace. Some examples are described below.

Financial losses:

These can change the expected growth of the company and force it to reconsider its ability to meet its current goals within the projected time period. Furthermore, having an incidence of theft occur pushes an employer to conduct workplace investigations, instil tighter security and introduce anti-theft programs. Funding for this may take away from budgets previously allocated to important company initiatives such as marketing or employee bonuses which can create further financial strain and unhappy employees in the future.

Negative work environment:

When major employee theft has occurred, there can be a near immediate shift in the workplace culture and amidst employee relations to one that is more tense, suspicious and hostile. This could make it difficult to promote an open and inclusive work environment that encourages trust and collaboration as the relationship between management and employees becomes strained. Over time, this can decrease the morale of employees by making them feel mistrusted, which in turn decreases their loyalty and commitment to the company. 

employee theft needs to be actively prevented
Stricter security:

Rapid and sudden changes to a workplace’s security following a case of employee theft can serve to pose issues for the existing employees.

Imposing restrictions on employee access to company property and data, particularly in the number of hurdles they must jump through when accessing information can be detrimental and cause undue hassle in completing day-to-day tasks and make collaboration and teamwork more difficult. Additionally, increasing the number of security cameras, company computer and phone security and tracking their every move is not always helpful in actually preventing theft whilst simultaneously causing undue employee stress. It can also cause the company to go over the budget allocated for security in a certain time period which can have financial consequences in other sectors of the organisation.

What can you do to prevent employee theft?

With over 75% of employees stealing from their employers at least once, it’s near impossible to catch every single instance.  However, implementing certain measures to inhibit its occurrence allows an employer to feel safer and protect the more important assets of a company.

Implementing these measures, especially when incidences of theft have occurred, is important because failing to do so can encourage even more instances of theft.

Prevention methods include:
      • Employee training programs that communicate the company’s anti-theft policy and the potential consequences of failing to abide by it
      • Make sure that all relevant criminal checks are conducted before hiring. Consider asking for employer references in your application process so you may speak to them 
      • Inclusion of employee theft in the contract whereby its different forms are accounted for with their corresponding consequences.
      • Do not attempt to underpay or overwork employees as it strains their loyalty and encourages negative behaviour such as stealing
      • Put a comprehensive security system in place, one that monitors not only the physical workplace but also company laptops and web systems 
      • Strengthen the company’s workplace investigation process to reach accurate conclusions and avoid false accusations 

Additionally, having strict and thorough bookkeeping requirements for employees to adhere to also aids in preventing theft, particularly when it comes to money.  Practices such as ensuring that all transactions, reimbursements and payrolls are checked and signed by more than one authority decrease the opportunity for theft to occur. On the occasion that employee theft does take place, it makes it far easier to monitor and trace the movements of the lost money within the organisation.

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Hence, employee theft is a lot more common than perceived and can take place in many different ways within an organisation. Its consequences can shape how a company is able to grow and develop and negatively influence its work culture by fostering distrust. Making sure that you have practices in place to discourage employees from stealing will limit how theft impacts your company over the long term.



5 Ways to Make the Best of an Exit Interview

5 Ways to Make the Best of an Exit Interview

Exit interviews may not always be pleasant to undertake, particularly if you are losing a valued employee. However, the insight they provide can enable you to prevent other valued employees from leaving in the future and enable the company to maintain a low turnover rate which also serves as a competitive advantage.

Highly proficient and adept employees are incredibly important to the success of a company and retaining them is an important aim of any company. If an employer is unable to do so and valued workers keep leaving, the productivity, output and reputation of the company can suffer as a result. It can also be very costly – in fact, replacing an employee can end up costing from half to two times their given annual salary. If you notice an upward trend in turnover rates as an employer, it is important to investigate why this may be occurring.

exit interviews allow valuable insight into how an employee can improve its turnover rate

Utilising exit interview data enables a better understanding of what is and isn’t working within a company and reveal unaddressed challenges and potential opportunities to capitalise on. This, in turn, can directly influence employee engagement and satisfaction, working to prevent other valued employees from leaving for similar reasons.

Techniques to make your exit interview worth it

1. Exit interview form and timing

The form the interview takes place on can shape the outcome you receive. Whilst face-to-face conversations are generally quite effective, they may not be the most effective route for you depending on your resources, the employee and what your aims are for the interview. In fact, it has been argued that telephonic interviews or questionnaires can often allow for more honest answers due to lowered pressure. If you are unsure as to which method you should utilise, it may be beneficial to allow the employee to decide the means for themselves so they feel most comfortable speaking openly.  

The timing of the interview can also be quite important –  for example conducting interviews on the employee’s last day may not be very conducive if they’ve already logged off mentally and can’t provide detailed responses.

2. The interviewer and interviewee

The individual who conducts the interview needs to be someone who will be able to have the most honest conversation with the employee. Research shows that interviews conducted by ‘second or third-line managers’ have the greatest chances of resulting not only in more open conversations but also in follow-up action. Because they’re closer to employees in terms of company hierarchy, these managers are more likely to be given honest feedback which is what an exit interview needs to be effective.

Another consideration is which employees you choose to interview. Whilst interviewing everyone that decides to exit is definitely an option, many companies opt not to and choose to only interview employees leaving certain positions. Regardless of your preference, making exit interviews mandatory for at least some employees, particularly those considered ‘high potential’,  is very helpful as they are likely to be very knowledgeable and targeted and be frequent recruitment targets. 

3. Choosing the right questions 

An exit interview’s purpose is to provide the company insight into its own potential shortcomings that may have influenced the employee’s decision. The questions asked should focus on the employee’s experience within the company and their role and be aimed at identifying any potential gaps that need to be met.

Examples of effective exit interview questions:

      • Did you feel supported by your manager and department? What could they have done better?
      • Was there anything you thought would have been important to include in the onboarding process?
      • How did you find the working relationship with your fellow co-workers and management? Did you feel any hostility or lack of welcome at any point?
      • In what ways do you think your role description has shifted in the time you were here?
      • What work-related circumstances influenced your decision to leave?

Avoid questions that may seem too personal, accusatory or negative. For example, asking “Why didn’t you like working here” can seem accusatory and push the employee into feeling hurt and defensive which is counterproductive to the very purpose of an employee exit interview.

exit interviews are valuable tools
4. Setting the tone of the exit interview

In contrast to a job or workplace investigation interview, the leaving employee does not need to be faced with the same level of formality or structure in your conversation regarding their exit. In fact, doing so may be detrimental to your aims as it could put them on edge and make them feel uncomfortable. Going for a more relaxed environment without too much focus on a specific interview structure is likely to be most helpful. 

Additionally, when holding the interview, it’s good practice to make sure it’s undertaken in a location that is free from noise and other distractions. Make sure the employee is aware that they are not there to be reprimanded or feel guilt for leaving, but rather so that the company can work to improve itself. Making sure that they feel comfortable before you begin will allow the employee to speak more honestly about their experiences in their role and what they felt was potentially lacking. 

5. Use the data to make genuine changes

The data collected from an exit interview is not worth very much unless it’s analysed and any identified areas for change. This may seem like obvious advice but it’s been a common theme for exit interview data to not be included in informing and shaping the workplace in a relevant manner. Taking advantage of the full value of exit interviews by carefully recording and discussing the feedback in conjunction with what’ve you learned in other exit interviews is what allows real and important workplace changes to occur.

    For example, if you notice that many exit interviews mention a gap between the expected duties versus what they were required to do on a day-to-day basis, you may look into changing the role description and its onboarding process so that they reflect each other more accurately. 

    Or, in another example, if you notice that lack of opportunities is cited by many leaving employees, you could consider re-evaluating your training options and promotion pathways. It’s important to note here that it’s not about changing your entire system based on what one leaving employee said, but rather the trends and patterns you notice across several exit interviews.

    This also makes it important to make sure that the data the exit interviews provide is collated and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that it stays relevant.


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    To conclude, exit interviews can generate positive changes within your organization by offering valuable insight into the reasons for your employees’ resignations.  It also makes sure employees are aware that their opinions matter and are important to the company. Analyzing your findings after an effective exit interview and implementing relevant changes will improve employee retention in the long term.


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