Did You Know…

That a post-exit interview may help companies address the problem of employee disengagement?

Throughout the world, organizations are coping with the consequences of increasing employee disengagement. The latest Gallup poll information identifies 55% of the US workforce, 61% of the British workforce, 67% of the Japanese workforce, and a whopping 82% of the workforce in Singapore as "not engaged." "Not engaged" employees put time, but not energy or passion, into their work.

"Actively disengaged" employees aren't just unhappy at work—they may actively express their negative attitudes verbally or behaviorally. Such employees aggressively undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish. In Singapore, 12% of the workforce falls into this category, in the US, 16%, in Britain, 19%, and in Japan, 24% of the workforce is actively disengaged.

Traditional exit interviews may be part of the voluntary termination process. The information divulged during these exit interviews may help companies better understand the problem of employee turnover. But Dr. John Sullivan of San Francisco State University suggests an alternative—the "post-exit interview." Because a post-exit interview is conducted about six months after termination of employment, the responses may vary significantly from traditional exit interviews. Why? Individuals are less emotional six months down the road, they have had time to reflect and compare their new position to the one they left, and they no longer need a positive reference from a former employer—a fear which can color responses in exit interviews.

"Post-exit" interviews can elicit employee opinions about positive and negative aspects of the former job, barriers to productivity encountered in the former job, and significant triggers that drove the decision to leave. Information regarding aspects of the new job that the employee enjoys more, suggestions for improvement, and an indication of whether or not the employee would consider returning to the company can also be collected.

Data from current employees may shed light on employee disengagement, too. Employees may be surveyed on "Why Employees Stay" (the reasons an employee likes his or her current job) or on "Barriers to Productivity" (the conditions that frustrate employees and inhibit their productivity—some of which might be easily changed).

Finally, no amount of feedback does any good unless companies are prepared to act on the results. As Dr. Sullivan states, "If the employer's plan is simply to file the information, stop the feedback collection process." Employee cynicism skyrockets when people give thoughtful input and believe "No one listened and nothing changed." In the final analysis, information is only as useful as its application.


Coffman, Curt. 2005. "Building a Highly Engaged Workforce." Gallup Management Journal. Available at: http://www.govleaders.org/gallup_article.htm.

Flade, Peter. Dec. 11, 2003. "Great Britain's Workforce Lacks Inspiration." Gallup Management Journal. Available at: http://gmj.gallup.com/content/9847/Great-Britains-Workforce-Lacks-Inspiration.aspx.

Gopal, Ashok. May 11, 2006. "Worker Disengagement Continues to Cost Singapore." Gallup Management Journal. Available at: http://gmj.gallup.com/content/22720/Worker-Disengagement-Continues-to-Cost-Singapore.aspx .

Sasaki, Junko and Matt Norquist. July 14, 2005. "Grim News for Japan's Managers." Gallup Management Journal. Available at: http://gmj.gallup.com/content/17242/Grim-News-for-Japans-Managers.aspx.

Sullivan, John. 1997. "Post-Exit Interviews." The Employer's Advantage." Available at: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/gately/pp15js16.htm.


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