The Exits Lounge

Looking for a new job is generally a stealth project. Secretly updating CV’s, sneaking off for job interviews and quiet phone calls with recruiters. But imagine if a company encouraged staff planning on leaving to get them to help them out – better still, what if it had a formal ‘Exits Lounge’ which was a known, open company policy.

I know this sounds kinda crazy, and maybe it is, but sometimes we need to think of things in reverse, to see this could play out. Most firms have a formal recruiting process, but the exit process is informal and undercover, it’s as if they are pretending the traffic is only one way – people only come in, and they never leave. Which is kind of ridiculous. Imagine instead that employees could register their intention to leave a company. Have an honest, non judgemental discussion about why they’ve chosen to leave and be assisted along the journey.

So how might this work? Maybe they’d get assistance with improving their CV, maybe get their current employer to be a referee (if the employee deserves it). Possibly give the leaving staff member a short lead project to work on to make them more employable elsewhere. No, let’s get even weirder – imagine a physical co-working space for people who’ve decided to leave where they can work on the process of leaving, with assistance from the company, while getting full pay. The company would certainly know how happy their workers are based on how full, or empty the exits lounge was. Forget contrived culture surveys – just go see how busy the exits lounge is!

I’m certain any company which had the courage to create a formal assisted exit program would help them become an employer of choice and here’s why.

Firstly, it would be a more attractive place to take on work knowing the path out, is assisted. It would significantly reduce the risk of anyone coming in.  The company would have more time to find appropriate replacements for those on the way out. They would gather important cultural feedback from the ‘exiteers’ and have a chance to fix it – improve the way work gets done in their organisation. They’d see where the real staffing problems were – which divisions, what resources, which bosses. They might even be able to find a better or more suitable role for the person intent on leaving, before they leave and stop it. The process might even save the company money.

The kind of approach could make the company more like a learning institution, or a University where people actually expect to graduate from it – which in reality most people do. Almost no one stays at a company for life these days. It would even be a bit like a family where people learn, grow and eventually leave the home – with the help of their parents. But also, it would be a more human place to work because this process would replicate the human reality that people move on over time. And where they come from is usually regarded as quite important. “We got this recruit from Company X, you know the one with with the ‘Exists Lounge’ – all their staff are usually great.” 

The future is a weird place. Often things which seem counterintuitive and unimaginable at first become something future generations can’t imagine living without.