Get New Retention Strategies from Outgoing Employees

August 27, 2015
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During your association management career, you’ll inevitably lose employees, which can be a nightmare if you’re already stretched to the limit for time or working with a tight budget that will make the hiring process difficult. And unless an employee has been vocal about dissatisfaction with her job, an exit interview is often the first time a manager will find out that something is wrong. By interviewing employees in the days before they leave, you can learn their reasons for leaving and even why they stayed as long as they did. The exit interview can reveal what you can change to help retain current employees and new hires. If you've never conducted exit interviews, follow these steps:

Cover key points. Your exit interview should cover six key topics: (1) job expectations; (2) reasons for leaving; (3) job satisfaction; (4) relationships with supervisors; (5) work environment; and (6) main reasons for turnover.

Pick appropriate interviewer. There’s a drawback to exit interviews: the tendency for employees not to be candid. Some employees don’t like to “burn bridges.” So an employee who’s leaving because he thinks his supervisors are incompetent may make up another reason when asked. He may fear getting a poor reference or meeting up with those same supervisors later in his career. That’s why the interviewer you choose should go to great lengths to assure employees that their answers during an exit interview are strictly confidential and that the details will not be shared with anyone. The employee’s supervisor should not conduct the interview. One solution is to have an outside party, such as a personnel or management consultant perform exit interviews.

Choose format. An exit interview doesn’t necessarily have to be done face to face. And not all communities have the resources to interview every departing employee before he leaves. One way to resolve this problem is by having someone from the board, or an outside interviewer, conduct the interviews over the phone. If there’s not enough time for that, a hard copy of the questionnaire can be sent with the employee’s last paycheck.

For more information about how to get to the bottom of employee turnover, and an exit interview form you can adapt for your staff, see "Increase Employee Retention with Exit Interview," available to subscribers here.