Stop Employees From Quitting! | Print |

Reprinted from CSP magazine.

Exactly why do your employees leave? Ask them! How many of you conduct exit interviews with your associates and store managers? If you don’t you’re missing a wealth of information and contributing to your own turnover cost.

Exit interviews with employees generate a wealth of useful information about your company or a particular store. It’s a chance for the employee to voice complaints, offer constructive criticism, air some gripes, or explain why they’re leaving.

Interviews can be conducted orally or written. Employees tend to hold back information if the manager conducts the interview therefore a third party is recommended. However, not every company has the luxury of sending someone to conduct exit interviews. A good way around that is to use a written questionnaire.

A couple of things to keep in mind with exit interviews:

1. Ask specific open-ended questions.
2. Save the hardest questions for last.
3. A good icebreaker is to ask if they want to use you for a reference.
4. Expect the unexpected.
5. Have the employee complete the exit interview one or two days before their last day. Provide them with a postage paid envelope addressed to the store manager’s supervisor or key contact in corporate. You want the employee to be completely honest and they’ll hesitate if it’s given back to the immediate boss. (Especially if the manager was the reason for leaving.)
6. Avoid the temptation to discard negative responses as “sour grapes”. Listen closely and pay attention to the negative comments. (We listen and learn when customers complain right?)

If you do conduct a live interview select a third party that listens well, is open minded, and will avoid getting into an argument. They should be prepared and know in advance what information they want to gather during the interview process.

Below are just a few sample questions you might want to include in the exit interview.

1. What did you like most/least about working here?
2. Are there changes that would have prevented you from leaving?
3. Describe your relationship with your co-workers?
4. Describe your relationship with your manager/managers?
5. Did you receive enough training?

The real value of an exit interview is for the employer to do a reality check. The information can help identify many things:

1. Trends and why people are leaving.
2. Opportunities to improve the hiring process. If people quit because they hate to clean the bathroom, then we should start telling candidates about that responsibility during the initial interview.
3. Relationships with co-workers. Often we have people on staff because they’ve been with us for years and they’re reliable. You may learn they’re not team players but troublemakers and were the cause for some people to leave.
4. Company policies. You may offer benefits but some people would prefer a few extra dollars in the paycheck instead of the benefits.

Two other very important benefits are: First, field supervisors can use the results as a coaching tool for their managers on leadership issues that surface. Secondly, the message it sends to the employee. It says you cared and valued their opinion. And it might be a reason for them to return. Not every employee is happy with his or her new job. And this is an opportunity for those you wish weren’t leaving to invite them back in the event things don’t work out at the new job.