Employee turnover is a fact of life in most industries, but it is especially prevalent in the restaurant business. Finding and keeping valued staff is a top concern for managers, and can be even more difficult than attracting and retaining customers. Yet, the Harvard Business Review reports that a surprising majority of business owners are neglecting a valuable tool in reducing turnover: employee exit interviews. Here is what you need to know to take advantage of this opportunity.
What are Employee Exit Interviews?
If you have cause to fire someone, there is no question about why they are leaving. But many employees will leave voluntarily, and it’s worth investigating the reasons why. Employee exit interviews are a chance to gain honest feedback and insight into your work environment, management style, and company culture from the employee’s perspective. When you find out more about why people are leaving, you gain actionable intel on how to make your other workers want to stay.
The Benefits of Getting Feedback
Some employees will leave for personal reasons that are beyond your control, such as going back to school or moving to a new state. But other departures may be caused by reasons you can fix. Maybe the worker is leaving for a higher salary elsewhere, which indicates that you might need to examine whether your pay scale and benefits package are up to par with your competition. Maybe the employee needs more time off to care for their children or an ailing parent, but doesn’t feel management will work with them on flexible scheduling, which tells you it’s time to revisit management style and scheduling practices. Use employee feedback to make changes that can improve your employee turnover rate and, ultimately, reduce onboarding and training costs.
Setting Up the Process
So how should you conduct employee exit interviews? Whatever process you decide on should be applied consistently across all locations of your business and designed to make employees feel comfortable offering honest responses. Interviews can be conducted face-to-face, over the phone, on paper, or online. The first two methods allow for follow-up questions and requests for specific examples or clarifications, while online surveys offer increased convenience and faster analysis. Ideally, the in-person interviewer should be someone from HR or at least someone other than the employee’s immediate supervisor or manager — who might be tempted to get defensive, or may be part of the problem. Finally, interviews should be scheduled as closely as possible to the employee’s departure, preferably on their last day. Workers will feel more comfortable being honest about problems with people they don’t still have to work with.
Useful Questions to Ask
Besides asking the main question of why the employee is resigning, employee exit interviews should include questions such as these:
- “Did the job match your expectations from the description given when we hired you?” Are employees feeling like they got more (or less) work than they signed up for? This question can tell you if you are fairly and accurately depicting the requirements of the position during the hiring process.
- “What about our company would you change?” Employees will feel better about giving honest answers that are framed not as negative complaints but as positive, helpful suggestions. And you should be prepared to make those changes to improve the work environment for your remaining staff.
- “Did you feel you were given the right tools you needed to do your job well?” Are employees quitting out of frustration over inadequate training, or having to work with outdated equipment and processes? Perhaps it’s time to invest in upgrading your point of sale (POS) system, going mobile, or finding solutions that reduce the need for extensive training.
Consider using employee exit interviews to help find ways to improve your restaurant’s working environment and reduce turnover. If your interviews point toward a need to upgrade your POS and give your workers the tools they need to remain happily employed, contact Focus POS and let us help you find the solutions that are right for you.