When employees leave your organization, how do they feel about it?


(Image courtesy of clipart-library.com)

If you’re looking for a quick “status check” on the culture of your workplace, ask this simple question: When employees leave the organization, how do they feel about it?

Do they leave with a good taste in their mouths? Do they feel like their period of employment was worthwhile? Might they even have some sadness over leaving because working there was a good experience? Will they say good things about the organization to friends, family, and associates?

Or, by contrast, do they feel angry, resentful, mistreated, or disappointed? And perhaps they’re mightily relieved to be out of there? Will they post negative things to social media sites that solicit anonymous feedback on workplaces? Will they trash the organization in talking to others?

Of course, circumstances behind departures vary tremendously, and not all partings are voluntary. Nevertheless, honest answers to this question reveal a lot about the psychological health and morale within any place of employment.

Some organizations do formal exit interviews, and depending on whether departing workers trust that process, the ongoing results can be revealing. Other organizations will skip soliciting feedback. Dysfunctional organizations will blithely label any unhappy current or departing employee as being “disgruntled,” an easy tag often used to dismiss the credibility of complaints or concerns.


This post was revised in June 2019.

6 responses

  1. Hi David- Check out this warm and friendly paragraph from a job posting by a company in New Bedford: “Job descriptions are not intended as and do not create employment contracts. This organization maintains its status as an at-will employer. Employees can be terminated for any reason not prohibited by law.”

    They mean it, too, per this comment from a former employee: “I worked here for 9 months and almost every engineer that was there when I started had left for better pastures by the time I was included in the 3rd layoff during my tenure. My direct managers kept leaving and 6 months into the job, two had already left and the 3rd was exploring other opportunities. It kills me that I left a well-run company for a disaster. Don’t be fooled by the ‘front’ this place puts on for potential candidates.”

  2. Hi David,

    You are right on target. Talking with employees who are leaving is the ultimate gut check on company culture. It’s the smell test for management behavior, ethical environment, internal politics, flexibility, trust, etc. With a good sample size that produces concrete trends, the CHRO will have facts to present to executive leadership. Most company leaders, however, don’t have the ethical backbone to make positive, long-term changes.

    That’s the bad news. The good news is that the social media revolution is helping employees to discover the hidden truths of prospective employers before accepting a supposed lucrative job offer from a toxic company.

    At some point we may have the equivalent of AAA star ratings for companies. One star would be a cockroach infested, toxic workplace with continuous turnover. Five stars would be a premier, great place to work with solid leadership with turnover happening only for understandable reasons.

    Thanks for your continued positive impact on the American workplace.

  3. Kevin, that is a great idea – departing employee ratings. I wonder how that could be done without jeopardizing these individuals job prospects!

  4. I asked for an exit interview when I resigned from the job I loved. As with every other reasonable request I made of that employer….denied.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: