Exit Interview Questions

3 things you need to learn from exit interviews

Breakups are tough. This is as true in the workplace as it is in personal life. But employers need to take advantage of these challenging moments to ask departing employees why they’re leaving and try to learn from their responses. By conducting interviews before your employees walk out the door, you can gain valuable insight into the ways that your company might be falling short, and what other companies are doing to poach your talent.

You can find plenty of lists of reasons employees quit (like thisthis, or this), but you won’t know which reasons apply to your business unless you ask. Then, use the information to improve the environment for the employees who remain. Be sure to ask departing employees these exit interview questions:

  1. Why are you leaving? Departing employees are dissatisfied about something: the salary, the nature of the work, how they were treated by their manager, or something else. Don’t be satisfied with an answer like, “I want more challenge.” Ask follow-up questions to understand exactly what they mean. The more specific information you get, the better you can address those issues.
  2. What did you like about your job here? Hopefully, there was something employees liked about their jobs. Learning the positives is as important as learning the negatives so you know what you shouldn’t change about the work environment. If your company is considering changing some policies, ask departing employees their opinions of the proposed changes before you implement them.
  3. Did you have the resources you needed to do your job? Employees can’t work effectively without the right tools, but budget-conscious departments sometimes scrimp on spending. Companies need to invest in the resources employees need to get the job done. These resources can include training as well as software, office supplies, and support staff. When employees don’t feel they have the needed resources, they don’t feel the company is committed to their success.

Don’t try to use an exit interview to change employees’ minds about leaving. It’s usually too late, and even if you somehow persuade them to give you a second chance, the problems that they experienced before might persist. Instead, use the conversation to help improve the way you treat the rest of your staff. If you really listen to the feedback, asking exit interview questions should become a less common event.

Employee Turnover

How to weatherproof your company against job-hopping employees

Every business experiences turnover. Even engaged employees will move on from jobs they’ve loved for new opportunities, personal or professional. Millennials are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to rapid turnover. Forbes reports that most employees stay in their jobs about 4.4 years, but millennials expect to change jobs in fewer than three years.

Much of the reason for this is economics; millennials graduated in a tough economy and many take short-term internships and jobs that don’t use all their skills in order to earn an income. They hop to new jobs in an effort to move up the career ladder and in search of career fulfillment.

Companies need to protect themselves from the inevitability of employee turnover. Without a strategy in place, keeping operations running smoothly can be a struggle. There may be gaps in the knowledge needed to complete a project, and remaining employees often have to pick up extra work to cover for the departed employee, which can lead to lower morale. Make sure your plan covers knowledge transfer, staffing issues, and administrative tasks.

Knowledge transfer

Don’t allow one employee to be the only person who knows how to perform a crucial business function. Instead, make cross-training a part of your normal business process. The plan and associated documentation for every project should be online in a shared folder so others can access it.

No matter how much you’ve documented during normal operations, make sure knowledge transfer is a major part of departing employees’ final weeks on the job. Review the projects they’re currently working on, and schedule sessions to train other employees to pick up those responsibilities.

Staffing issues

Begin thinking about how to replace departing employees as soon as possible. Prepare standard job descriptions in advance, but remember that it’s sometimes quickest and cheapest to replace an employee with an internal transfer, so spread the word about any openings among colleagues in other departments.

Administrative tasks

Don’t forget to perform administrative tasks that are important for security. Make sure the employee returns all company-issued devices, such as laptops and cell phones. If you allow access to corporate systems from personal devices, you should be able to remotely wipe company files. Have a process for disabling the employee’s access to email and other business applications.

Exit interviews

Human resources should conduct an exit interview with employees before their last day. Departing employees can offer valuable insight that helps you improve the environment for employees who remain. If you handle this well, a departing employee can actually benefit your business.

Employee Recognition

Why you need to celebrate employee milestones

As a manager, you’re aware that it’s important to give employees everyday recognition, praise, and feedback. You’ll do a better job of effectively delivering this recognition, however, if you understand the reasons behind it. Here are three primary effects you’ll experience from building employee recognition into your daily workplace culture:

  • Better morale: Acknowledging the hard work and dedication that employees invest in your company is a good way to give them “a sense of ownership and belonging,” according to HR Council. They’re more likely to have the motivation to go above and beyond on the next project if they know their efforts will be noticed.
  • Greater employee retention: As HR.com points out, this isn’t rocket science – employees who are recognized are more likely to be engaged, and engaged employees equal higher retention rates. On the flip side, employee turnover can be a huge expense for your company and can damage your customer’s experience with your brand.
  • Higher productivity: After surveying more than 4 million employees in 10,000 business units, the Gallup Organization states unequivocally that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise increase their individual productivity.

Options for employee recognition

In addition to ongoing recognition and feedback, HR and managers need to develop special ways to celebrate bigger milestones. When your workers meet their goals, achieve a professional accomplishment such as a new certification, earn a promotion, or even hit their annual anniversary, there are a variety of unique ways that you can mark their special occasion. These are a few popular reward and recognition ideas that go beyond everyday praise:

  • Free lunch
  • Gift card or financial bonus
  • “Free” time off
  • New electronics like an upgraded smartphone, tablet, or laptop
  • All-expenses-paid vacation
  • Special award or bonus points
  • A public, company-wide ecard

Recognizing your employees will pay off

When you acknowledge the contributions your employees make and create an encouraging workplace culture, you’re laying the foundation for your future business success. Gallup’s Business Journal estimates that “22 million workers (in the United States alone) are extremely negative or ‘actively disengaged.” This disaffection ends up costing the U.S. economy up to $300 billion in lost productivity every year, not including associated absences, injuries, and employee turnover. Take the time to invest in your employees’ sense of meaning, pride, and emotional health – the investment could pay back in the form of better productivity and retention.

Talent Management Strategy

3 biggest talent management challenges for 2016

The workforce is changing rapidly, and many companies are struggling to update their talent management process to keep pace with new workplace cultures. Companies that can’t keep up with the expectations of today’s employees will see a decline in engagement — and a corresponding decrease in their bottom line.

A 2015 report by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) gives a look into current levels of staff engagement. According to the report, only 39 percent of respondents are “very satisfied” with their job, indicating that there is a lot of work ahead for managers in the upcoming year.

  1. Creating a culture of engagement

Almost three-quarters of respondents to the SHRM survey listed “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as the No. 1 driver of engagement. Employees also considered “trust between employees and senior management” to be a critically important engagement factor (64 percent), along with “management’s recognition of employee job performance” (55 percent).

In 2016, successful companies will focus on a talent management strategy that takes these new priorities into consideration. Creating a culture of engagement to increase retention will be management’s primary challenge.

  1. Adjusting the frequency of feedback

Employees have indicated that they are dissatisfied with the traditional yearly review process. Instead, they are interested in real-time feedback, both positive and negative, that is delivered at least once a month.

In our North American Workforce survey, we found that 60 percent of employees reported that they don’t receive any on-the-spot feedback, and 53 percent stated that they don’t feel recognized for their achievements at all. It’s no surprise then that a full 41 percent indicated that they’re unhappy with the frequency of the feedback and recognition they do receive.

These numbers tell us that in 2016, management will be challenged to place greater emphasis on providing employees with frequent, high-quality feedback in an effort to increase levels of engagement.

  1. Attracting top talent

The job market has shifted dramatically over the past five years, going from employer-centric to almost entirely candidate-centric. Attracting top talent will be a significant challenge in 2016, as companies struggle to retain current employees, as well as fill any vacancies quickly.

Forward-thinking organizations are preparing for an applicant desert now by building their talent brand. This approach — ensuring that the company has a reputation in the marketplace as an employer of choice — relies primarily on a comprehensive talent management process that translates well to word-of-mouth referrals, company profiles and employee reviews on job boards.

As the employment market changes, organizations must adjust talent management strategies to meet and exceed employee expectations. Those that fall short find themselves with a disengaged workforce, which quickly cripples their ability to remain competitive.

Employee Retention Raise

How to retain your best employees when you can’t afford to give them a raise

When employees have done great work, they expect some form of acknowledgment. In a competitive marketplace where your top talent always has their eye on the next stepping stone in their career, your organization must win employee loyalty through tangible appreciation. Budgetary constraints can be relentless, however, and often prevent appreciative managers from offering a raise. If you find yourself seeking creative ways to increase employee retention and reward exceptional worker effort, here are a few useful points to keep in mind.

Salary isn’t the key factor in engagement

Traditional business wisdom tends to equate employee rewards with raises and annual bonuses, but in today’s workplace, researchers have found that compensation levels don’t always have a strong effect on employee motivation. Harvard Business Review (HBR) points out that rewarding good performance with raises isn’t the most effective way of engaging your workforce. As a matter of fact, a number of studies have found that simply increasing a worker’s annual income level can actually demotivate them. The HBR authors write, “The more people focus on their salaries, the less they will focus on satisfying their intellectual curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun, and those are the very things that make people perform best.” As the study suggests, human beings thrive when they have the chance to develop their knowledge and abilities.

Recognition is a natural human need

Social connections are essential to people’s well-being; CNN cites a study in which employees state that they would sacrifice up to $30,000 in salary in favor of receiving high praise at work. Autonomy and control over work projects are also identified as key factors in employee well-being, according to research by a neuroscientist and an executive coach published in Forbes. A change in title is another way to express recognition for an employee’s outstanding contribution.

Flexibility is coveted

In addition to their desire for greater personal autonomy over the completion of work projects, today’s employees struggle to balance work commitments with the demands of personal lives. If you reward your employees’ best efforts with flexible work arrangements (FWAs), you’ll enhance your employer brand. An extensive study by the Society for Human Resource Management states that “Ninety-one percent of HR professionals believe implementation of formal FWAs had a positive impact on employee morale (job satisfaction and engagement).”

The success of your organization depends on attracting and retaining highly competent workers. Rewarding your top-tier talent with recognition, autonomy, flexibility and further training opportunities will strengthen your employer brand and build a profitable future for your company.

Commuting to Work

Driving me crazy: How bad commutes affect employee retention

There’s nothing worse than sitting in traffic or squeezing onto a crowded subway. But for many workers, it’s the way they both start and end their day. When we think about the issues that most affect employee happiness and turnover, we often overlook a major factor that actually takes place outside the office: the quality and length of an employee’s commute.

Long commutes can cause personal problems, physical problems, and ultimately disengagement from the workplace. Tweet: Long commutes can cause personal problems, physical problems, and ultimately disengagement from the workplace http://ctt.ec/frg2v+

While a recent study by the Brookings Institution shows that commute distances for both urban and suburban residents are increasing overall, managers do have options. There are a number of changes you can make within your organization to help relieve the negative effects of commuting to work.

One big impact that long commutes have on people’s lives is that they increase their sense of loneliness. Harvard social scientist Robert Putnam has studied social isolation at length, and he discovered that “every 10 minutes spent commuting results in 10 percent fewer ‘social connections’.” To alleviate your employees’ sense of isolation as they travel to and from work, you can help them set up carpool or vanpool options. That way, they can break the isolation and connect with colleagues while underway.

If employees do need to rely on personal vehicles to get to work, you can make their lives easier by flexing hours in response to local traffic patterns. If you allow someone’s workday to begin and end slightly earlier or later than the standard rush hours, they can avoid gridlock and get to and from home faster.

Since long commutes result in more time spent sitting down (and more fast food consumed en route) you can help employees counter these effects by placing stronger emphasis on healthy habits in your workplace. You can replace the office donut box with fresh fruits and raw vegetables, and offer subsidized benefits such as gym memberships and smoking cessation assistance. Get more ideas for encouraging health in the workplace from our article 5 ways to make healthy lifestyle part of your company culture.

Another way to solve the commute issue is to lessen or eliminate it; telecommuting, compressed work weeks, and job-sharing options allow employees to complete work with less physical travel. The number of employees who work remotely grew by almost 80 percent between 2005 and 2012, and these numbers increased across all sectors even during the recession.

Finally, some employers are considering commute time as a selection factor in hiring, and some job candidates have mixed feelings about the practice. Just ask this letter-writer to the Ask a Manager blog who doesn’t understand why potential employers should care about her 2-hour commute.

While this hiring approach might eventually weed out the commuting problem altogether, it might not be the most effective or ethical way to screen candidates. Xerox, for example, decided not to use data regarding job applicants’ distance from the workplace because it wanted to ensure that its hiring policies were not discriminatory – i.e. because in some areas, lower-income communities might be located farther from the city center.

Whichever approach you take, make sure that your people leaders have awareness of and sensitivity toward commuting issues. Small changes and allowances can have a big impact on employee engagement, health, and productivity long term.

Work-life balance tips

You look like you need a vacation: Helping your employees disconnect

Are you one of the 64 percent of managers who expect their employees to be continually available by email and phone? This figure comes from a recent survey by Workplace Trends, and the ramifications of blurring the boundaries between personal time and work time are concerning. Too often, both employers and employees assume that true dedication means they’re never off the clock – in reality, this inability to leave work behind yields only inefficiency and emotional burnout. Forward-thinking employers support (and even pay) their staff to disconnect completely when they’re not at work.

Weekends and vacations act as mental “reset buttons,” helping workers remain effective by allowing them to refresh themselves and engage fully in other interests. Decades of research show that humans perform better when they have the chance for rest and recuperation. Football coaches encourage players to get plenty of rest before a game, and colleges warn students not to study all night long before a big exam.

An increasing number of businesses now recognize that their workers are more engaged on the job when they have the chance to disconnect. In fact, the CEO of Evernote now pays employees $1,000 to take a vacation in which they stay entirely disconnected from work. FullContact went one step further, offering its employees $7,500 to take non-working vacations.

The trend toward working from home and using personal mobile devices on business trips creates confusion about what constitutes personal time. In addition, the economic pressures of the recent recession have instilled fear in employees that if they take truly disconnected vacations, they might be passed over for promotions.

To encourage your employees to get the mental refreshment they need, here’s a quick list of work-life balance tips:

  • Set an example: When you’re not working, let your staff know that you aren’t available by phone or email.
  • Make disconnecting during non-work hours a company-wide policy, and publicize it widely.
  • Provide assistance with delegating, especially if your employees have a tough time believing it is safe to leave work in a colleague’s hands.
  • Reassure workers that you don’t value them on the basis of over-connectedness. Instead, praise them for demonstrating good mental hygiene (as shown by being able to step away from phone and email).
  • Incentivize taking all the allotted vacation time.

Even if it takes a bit of effort to break the habit, your organization will benefit from the change in culture. When your employees have the chance to take a true break from work on evenings, weekends, and vacations, they’ll come back with increased productivity and improved morale.

Salary and Job Satisfaction

Money doesn’t motivate: Why employees need more than just a paycheck

by Andrea Vearncombe, Total Rewards Manager, Achievers

Why do your employees show up at work every morning? If you think it’s just to earn a paycheck, then you’re overlooking something essential about human motivation. Most people agree that fair compensation is a requirement for employee engagement and job satisfaction, but it only meets the bare minimum.

Research studies published in Harvard Business Review demonstrate that the overlap between pay level and job satisfaction is actually less than two percent. Of course salaries have to be competitive if you want to attract and retain employees in the first place, but once people are able to meet their basic lifestyle needs, their happiness and engagement are actually driven by non-financial factors.

Harvard researchers noted that corporate performance is directly correlated with employee motivation, so they ran a large-scale study to determine exactly how managers can foster a strong climate of motivation within their teams.

In a survey of 300 Fortune 500 companies, the researchers focused on four specific indicators of motivation:

  • Employee engagement
  • Satisfaction
  • Commitment
  • Intention to quit

They defined “engagement” as the “energy, effort and initiative that employees bring to the job.” Their research found that none of these four indicators of motivation were actually influenced by salary.

They also discovered two important human needs that determined how engaged employees will be. The first of these is the need to bond with larger teams and groups. When an employee feels proud to be part of an organization or company, they are strongly motivated to give their best effort. The second need that companies can fulfill is the individual’s desire to be challenged and to make a unique and meaningful contribution to their organization.

The take-away for HR and people leaders is that recognition and rewards shouldn’t just come in the form of salaries and bonuses. Instead, the most effective way to foster engagement is by acknowledging the human need for bonding and teamwork. Positive social recognition from both managers and peers will encourage individuals to meet challenges and contribute to the success of their team. When employees feel acknowledged and appreciated by the people around them, they’re more likely to repeat the behaviors that earned praise.

Because this element of human-to-human bonding and recognition is so essential for job satisfaction, it needs to be systemic within your organization. Don’t leave recognition up to chance. Develop a strategy around how recognition and rewards will be distributed across each sector of your company so that every employee has the chance to participate. By making investments in employee alignment, rewards and recognition, and team bonding activities, you can earn much higher returns than just doling out large raises.

Want more tips for how to implement a seamless, automated recognition and rewards strategy? Download our whitepaper Do-it-yourself vs. Doing it right: Fueling employee engagement with a social recognition and rewards platform.

 

Andrea VearncombeAndrea Vearncombe is responsible for leading the global total rewards and culture strategy for Achievers in North America and EMEA.

Employee Retention Strategies

3 powerful ways to improve your employee retention rate

People are often told that they should find a job they love. Unfortunately, circumstances don’t always allow the luxury of waiting for that one dream position. And some people think they’ve found their dream job, only to find that things start to go sour. There are a lot of reasons this can happen: a bad boss, a toxic team, stagnant career growth, or lack of recognition.

Losing your employees to resignation is an expensive problem. The better you can retain your employees, the better you’ll be able to save money, and more importantly, save the knowledge and talent your employees bring to the table.

A competitive salary is the bare minimum that you need to provide to keep employees satisfied. Beyond compensation, your employee retention strategies should factor in the total rewards package you offer, the quality of your leadership, and the power of your social recognition strategies.

Making sure your employees are thoroughly engaged should be a key step in your employee retention strategy. Here are 3 practical ways to start:

  1. Offer a generous and unique benefit package

Competitive wages will always be an important factor in retaining high-quality employees. In today’s employment market, individuals are also placing a high value on the benefits an employer offers. Health insurance coverage and paid vacation time are considered standard, so going above and beyond that minimum can go a long way toward improving your retention rate. Flexible work schedules, work-from-home opportunities, generous maternity and paternity leave, and paid fitness club memberships are just some of the popular benefit options that communicate value with today’s workforce.

  1. Emphasize leadership within a team – not “boss” and employees

A “boss” who cracks the whip does not encourage loyalty. A team leader who works side by side with those they lead is more likely to generate the commitment and attitude you’re looking for. If you invest in your managers to ensure they’re well trained, you’re investing in your employee retention as well. Good managers will train and inspire their team, and they will help their direct reports find their strengths and grow their careers.

  1. Appreciation and recognition go the distance

Finally, showing recognition and gratitude go a long way toward making an employee feel appreciated. Make sure you have a rewards and recognition strategy in place across your organization. Encourage managers to give their reports positive feedback on a regular basis, and foster a culture where peers are encouraged to recognize each other for good work. Regular, authentic recognition within your teams will help your employees feel more engaged, valued, and aligned with the organization. Make sure every employee knows that their work is meaningful to the company.

Don’t let high employee turnover hurt morale or your business’ bottom line. Smart employee retention strategies will help you keep your employees engaged, activated, and working toward your business’ goals.

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire innovation during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-01Innovation is all around us, yet it’s not always so easy to uncover. Organizations have the opportunity every day to promote a culture of recognition and inspire innovation from employees.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on innovation to inspire recognition—and innovation—today!

 

 

 

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?