Just hearing this phrase is enough to make me feel a headache coming on.
Sure, there are those instances when an associate’s departure results in a collective sigh of relief. But, more often it’s the highest performing team members who are lured away to other work opportunities, leaving you and your remaining team members with another position to fill and the extra workload to carry until you do so.
Pass the extra strength Tylenol.
Maybe you’ve heard that old saying: “The ones who can leave do, the ones who can’t, stay.”
What does that mean in the workplace?
Well, the simple translation is this: Fail to pay enough attention to your organizational culture and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by only the individuals who aren’t good enough to go elsewhere.
It’s an unpleasant and challenging situation when a valued employee who has been integral to your community or company’s success chooses to move on. You may be understandably hurt, frustrated, or even angry by their departure. But as a leader, you need to take this potentially negative situation and transform it into a positive one.
One way to do that is to conduct an exit interview.
Conducting an exit interview allows you to transform the loss of your employee into an opportunity to gather key information, which can and should be extremely valuable to you, your employees, and your company.
What do you have to learn from a departing employee?
Quite a bit.
1) Gain insights into potential issues and areas of improvement
Sometimes employees leave for obvious reasons such as a promotion or salary increase. But sometimes departures are brought about by reasons that are more subtle; shifts in corporate culture, for instance.
One thing that’s constant in property management is change: new communities, new leadership, new initiatives, and new policies all have an impact on your workplace culture. A team member who once felt at home in your organizational culture may no longer feel like a good fit.
An exit interview can then provide a perspective that is somewhat unique; a view of the culture as seen by someone who isn’t comfortable in it. Listen to their concerns closely; it could be that others feel the same way but haven’t spoken up.
2) Isolate factors of employee development, which can further prevent valued employees from leaving your company
A study conducted by Glassdoor Economic Research found that employees are three times more likely to quit for a new employer than to take a new role with their existing employer; this is especially true for the millennial generation of employee. Exit interviews can reveal the factors that cause motivated employees to leave, helping you reduce both the cost and the disruption of job turnover.
Speaking of disruption, according to Entrepeneur.com, it takes an average of 68 days to fill a vacancy. That’s more than two months of added stress and workload on the rest of the team as you run short-staffed. It’s enough to drive more team members to the exit! That’s all the more reason to use the exit interview to find out why your associates are leaving so you can act to avoid further attrition.
3) Help employees leave on a high note
Giving an exiting employee an opportunity to tell you “just how they feel” can increase the likelihood of that employee leaving on a positive note. When people are given the opportunity to bring issues to your attention and discuss them, it can give you the chance to empathize with their decision and wish them well. There are a number of reasons why this is good practice, but consider, at the very least, your brand reputation.
Review sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed and networking sites such as LinkedIn make it easy for former employees to either slam, or recommend, their former employer. The exit interview gives you the opportunity to “do the right thing” as a human being and protect your brand at the same time.
Furthermore, if your departing associate leaves on good terms, they’re more likely to refer others your way or to consider coming back to your organization in the future. Many multifamily firms report once-satisfied workers returning to their previous employers in a trend known as “boomerang hires.”
A positive experience in an exit interview can leave the door open for that valued employee to return in the future.
4) Stay up to date with employee compensation packages
Since compensation is a common reason why employees leave, it’s an important factor that impacts job retention. Interviewing departing employees will let you know if you need to alter your compensation strategy. High benefit satisfaction heavily correlates with high job satisfaction, and nearly half of employed U.S. adults think the only way to gain significant change in compensation is by switching companies.
Asking employees for this type of feedback is not only constructive for your company, it also shows employees that you value their feedback and want to improve your company. You may not have the power to make changes to your company’s compensation or benefits offerings, but you can certainly bring the feedback you receive to the attention of leaders in your multifamily organization.
Creating and implementing an effective and consistent exit interviewing process can seem challenging and time-consuming, but the benefits are well worth it. You can gain greater insights into your organizational culture and protect your brand reputation.
If you are willing to listen and react to the feedback shared in exit interviews, you’ll be be better prepared to manage your team and your workplace and avoid the disruption and high cost of continued employee turnover.