So, you’ve plucked up the courage and have just told the boss you’ve accepted a new job somewhere else. Good for you, great. Except, you’ll probably be asked the inevitable question: ‘Why?’ No doubt you've rehersed this response a thousand times, but does a lingering doubt in your head still remain? Are you totally sure of what you're really going to say?
Broadly, you have two choices: Do you a) Be terribly British and polite, and say that you’re sorry to be going, that it’s been good while it’s lasted, and that while you hate to leave, it’s better for your career, and long-term prospects?
Or, do you B) Say to hell with it all, and tell him or her the real reasons: the 101 things that have been annoying you since day one, and just haven’t got better – the line manager you just can’t get on with; the colleague that has always put you down; the fact you’re overworked and seldom ever leave on time; the fact you’ve had your flexible working requests repeatedly turned down; that you were overlooked for promotion, or that the office was too hot/cold or just plainly made you miserable etc.?
Workplace experts have long prescribed that staff should resist being brutally honest. They argue staff should take caution before saying what they really think – just in case they ‘burn their bridges’.
But perhaps this advice misses the point. For unless bosses really know why staff leave, nothing will ever change for the better. This being the case, it could be argued that staff who leave actually 'owe' it to the co-workers they leave behind to speak up.
Fresh evidence to support this comes from the findings of a survey of 200 HR directors by OfficeTeam. It confirmed that when left to their own devices, less than a third of HR proferssionals (31%) will routinely offer a formal exit interview. Perhaps it’s because they don’t want to hear the inevitable bad news. Not only this, some 7% said they never ran them at all.
All of which means, that the onus clearly rests with you to demand one. Yes, HR directors might wince, and find what you have to say uncomfortable, but when pressed about whether they thought exit interviews were a good idea, they couldn’t really deny it. In fact, 95% of HRDs thought exit interviews were ‘sometimes’ or ‘very beneficial’ in helping to improve the working environment for employees.
So, do yourselves and your colleagues a favour. The people you leave behind need your help. Don't just hand in your resignation and be done with it. Demand to be heard. Make sure you don’t dash out of your office for good until you’ve made sure you know your boss knows why. Your co-workers may well thank you for it in the future...