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Article by: Angie Williams — View more articles by Angie Williams

Posted on: May 24, 2017

The Hidden Benefits of a Goodbye

The word “goodbye” is dubious as there’s typically nothing inherently ‘good’ associated with it. This is also true when it’s time to say goodbye to one of your employees who has chosen to move on. Whether it’s an all-star manager or your sub-par administrative assistant, losing an employee can be disruptive and cause significant and unexpected change within your company.

But if you take the time to see the glass half-full, you’ll see some good news and hidden benefits associated with a resignation.

Like what? As an HR or payroll employee, make sure your company conducts exit interviews. You’ll be amazed at the number of actionable secrets that can be revealed in an exit interview. Two weeks notice is not a long time for most key employees – so an organization can become consumed with the replacing of an employee rather than obtaining the institutional knowledge that’s soon to walk out the door. Slow down and take the time to conduct an exit interview before your employee walks out of the door for good. An exit interview should stimulate a two-way discussion and honest feedback that the company can use to prevent future loss.

Here are some keys to unlocking the unforeseen paybacks from a goodbye.


When a superstar decides to leave your company, the initial reaction is to do anything to make them stay. Don’t fall into that trap. One of the worst things you can ask in an exit interview is, “is there anything we can do to change your mind?” By asking this you will most likely get a request that you cannot deliver, like a higher position or more pay, and you’ll have to turn them down. The exit interview is not the time to try to keep someone. It’s a time to gain knowledge on what the company did well and how you can improve it in the future.


Have a human resources representative conduct the exit interview, not the employee’s immediate supervisor. This will ensure a comfortable environment for honesty if the supervisor was part of the reason for them leaving, which can often be the major reason why employees leave. Once you have the feedback, you can determine how to best share it with the appropriate supervisors in a constructive manner.


Before conducting the interview, make sure to explain the purpose and process of the interview. When the interviewee has full knowledge and understanding you’ll leave with better results. Mention that no negative consequences will result from an honest discussion and that the truth will be the biggest help in determining problems and solutions within the company.


You don’t want to drill your interviewee with questions for hours, but you also want to gain useful information. Keep questions general and open ended, but make sure the answers will obtain actionable data. Be certain not to focus solely on the negatives, it is just as important to identify what your company is doing well.

Sample questions:

  • How did the job match your expectations?
  • Did you have the tools and resources you needed to effectively do your job?
  • What did you like most about your job?
  • What could be done to make this company a better place to work?


Take the information from these employees and make action steps in a better direction. The time you spent conducting these interviews will be useless unless you do something with the feedback you obtain. This type of discussion is also not limited to occurring when an employee leaves. Consider conducting stay interviews with current employees to gain similar information. That way you don’t have to wait for a painful goodbye to get valuable feedback.