It is regularly cited in articles and seminars that 90% of the problems involving loss of confidential information and trade secrets can be accounted for through employees who either leave to join a competitor or form a competing company. As the greatest risk of misappropriation and loss of information occurs under these scenarios, appropriate procedures must be proactively developed and put into place in order to quickly mobilize in the event of the loss of a key employee.
An effective plan to prevent the loss of sensitive confidential corporate information (such as customer lists, business plans, pricing information and technical data) involves numerous business and legal tools. These tools include corporate policies and culture, restrictive covenant agreements, confidentiality agreements, computer access policies and the like. An effective exit interview is one of these tools. When properly and uniformly conducted, an exit interview can provide the company with valuable information as to the employee's future plans and the risks that the company may be exposed to because of the employee's departure, as well as gain useful insight into the company's work environment.
Exit interviews are common in many companies. However, it is not unusual for the process to grow sloppy over time and become a waste of effort rather than a source of valuable information and insight. Those who fail to conduct exit interviews are not only missing out on a great human resources management tool, but they can be later accused of waiving important legal rights due to failure to advise the departing employee of his/her continuing legal obligations and the company's expectations concerning post employment conduct.