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How exit interviews support your management

By Paul Edwards  bio

Does your practice use exit interviews safely and beneficially? Small practices do not need to conduct these interviews in person—in fact, you shouldn’t! However, making an attempt to gather exit interview perspectives from every departing employee can help support your management actions and protect the practice.

The steps you should take depend on how the termination or resignation occurred, but in general your best practices are as follows.

How should I conduct an exit interview?

In situations where a termination or resignation occurs on-site, place a copy of your exit interview form in a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), and include it as you hand the departing employee their final paycheck. Let them know the business would appreciate it if they filled out and returned the form.

In cases when a termination or resignation happens via walk-out or job abandonment, the exit interview and SASE should be mailed to the ex-employee. Make sure they receive their final paycheck either with or before receiving the exit interview.

Note that you should NEVER withhold an employee’s final paycheck for any reason, with no exceptions. States have different rules and penalties for this—call us with any questions.

What’s so important about the exit interview—and what about angry ex-employees?

Exit interviews provide a snapshot of an employee’s perspective and mood at the time of separation. Obviously not every departing employee is going to report glowing feedback, and some will be angry. However, a completed exit interview may provide information you need to know or help to end a dispute.

This is especially true for traumatic quits or terminations. In an extreme scenario, an exit interview form can even provide evidence in the ex-employee’s own words about what happened as they left employment. This can help protect the practice if they later change their story, bring up an issue you’ve never heard about before, and/or make a claim against the practice.

Here are just a few ways the exit interview can support and improve your overall practice management:

  • It’s the employee’s “story” at the time of departure, and may convey emotions or details about why they think things ended. If they file any future complaint containing a new or conflicting story, it can be a valuable written record for you, in the employee’s own words.
  • It provides useful information to you as a manager and to the doctor/owner. Ex-employees who are no longer worried about keeping their jobs may inform you of problems.
  • A departing employee may allude to improprieties or make direct accusations against the business or another employee. TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY. At the very least you need to investigate and record your actions, as well as anything you did to address or correct any issues uncovered.

The exit interview form is evidence that you tried

Even if you are not sure how an unhappy departing employee will respond to their exit interview, the fact that you took the time to ask speaks volumes for your “willingness and need to know.” This helps support the practice if any complaints should escalate.

And if the ex-employee fails to return the form, you’ll have the record that you tried—valuable evidence of fair and consistent management.


Writer Bio: Paul Edwards is the CEO of CEDR Solutions (www.cedrsolutions.com), the nation’s leading provider of customized medical employee handbooks and expert HR support for practices of all sizes and specialties. He can be reached at 866-414-6056 or pauledwards@cedrsolutions.com.


Editor’s picks:

This is Your Exit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Terminating an Employee


Want to keep valued employees? Conduct a stay interview


Model Policy: Progressive discipline and employee termination



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