Business leaders are often concerned that unethical activities at work may be hidden and undiscoverable, making them difficult to identify and stop. As one executive pointed out to me, few employees will tell you what unethical activities are plaguing the company. Actually, that’s not true.
Employees will tell you a great deal if they don’t have to deal with the many uncomfortable consequences of doing so. And you can create that environment for them in the form of an exit survey or interview. Exit surveys and interviews are tools used to gather data from separating employees with the purpose of supporting business strategy development and fixing issues that may be latent in the environment. Usually, the information is about why the employee is leaving, what is going well or poorly in the organizational culture, levels of satisfaction with the employment experience, or issues related to products and services—but it doesn’t have to be limited to that. You can easily create an ethics exit survey or interview that allows you to get honest information from employees as they are separating from your organization.
In fact, I built an ethics exit survey process for the Department of Defense that focused on identifying certain forms of unethical behaviors—and such processes work well. Why? Because separating employees who see unethical activities and are disturbed by them are often concerned about having to work with fellow employees after reporting the activities. But once they are no longer working there, they aren’t worried about the peer issues and are freed to deal with their conscience. So often, they will unload—if only you ask in the right way!
So, if you want to know what unethical behavior is going on—develop an ethics exit interview or survey and find out.