In a recent post at, HR consultant Barbara Milhizer calls the exit interview “the 2nd most worthless activity HR has to handle” after performance management. She suggests they’ve attained “sacred cow” status because, among other things, they are intended as a way to get actionable data on why people are leaving and offer a measure of risk mitigation.

But however worthwhile these goals might be, is there any evidence that exit interviews are effective about accomplishing these goals? Milhizer thinks not. She steps in a departing employee’s shoes to describe the awkwardness of the encounter and suggests an exit “conversation” as an alternative approach. Her post elicits a mixed response in the commentary that follows, with most agreeing (exit interviews are too little, too late), but also a spirited defense of the exit interview value by others.

At HR Daily Advisor, Steve Bruce suggests another approach: Why Not Stay Interviews Instead of Exit Interviews? He cites management consultant and author Leigh Branham in offering this type of interview as one of the keys in an ongoing retention and engagement strategy. The first step begins with knowing who might leave and why, so managers should identify high value/high risk employees and start there. The article suggests a process and objectives for conducting such an interviews, along with offering a series of potential questions, such as, “How could we more fully utilize your talents and capabilities?”; “What, if anything, is holding you back from being more effective?”; “What can we do to make your job more satisfying?”, and “What can I do as your manager to help you meet these development goals?”

For more on fostering employee retention and engagement, see Leigh Branham’s recent presentation “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Disengage & Leave… or Engage & Stay.”

Business Class – Employee Engagement and Retention from Greater KC Chamber of Commerce on Vimeo.

Author Leigh Branham, founder & principal of Keeping the People, Inc. presents on “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Disengage & Leave… or Engage & Stay.” Watch for a better understanding of the reasons employees leave (which are very different from what they say in exit interviews), so that management and HR can create on-target corrective and preventative solutions to employee turnover.”

When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.


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