Exit Interviews: Do You Know Why Your Employees are Leaving?

June 27th, 2014

You may not have a serious problem with high turnover, and your actual numbers may fall in line with industry averages in your industry…but if you lose even one valuable employee for preventable reasons, you can and should be doing more to prevent this situation.

As the saying goes, your most valuable form of capital is your human capital, and great employees always add intangible value to your enterprise. So if there’s any resource at your disposal that might keep them happy, productive, and onboard, don’t ignore this resource, and don’t let great people slip away.

Find out what your teams want and need—and may be missing—by making sure every departing employee completes a detailed exit interview. And as you draft your interviews, keep these tips in mind.

1. Include a verbal and written component.

Have your HR manager sit down with the departing employee for a face to face conversation on his or her last day. But in addition to the meeting, make sure you also give the departing employee a chance to fill out a short survey or questionnaire that will capture her thoughts in writing.

2. Keep your interviews open and non-judgmental.

Recognize that your employee won’t be fully honest if she fears backlash in the form of a negative recommendation, and a less-than-honest review won’t help you.

3. Keep your interviews specific.

Encourage your employee to speak freely, but provide structure in order to target areas in need of improvement. For example, try questions like these:

“Is there anything we could have done, or any resource we could have provided, that would have convinced you to stay?”
“If you can link your decision to leave to a single event, can you describe that event?”
“Can you describe the primary appeal of your new employer and explain what they have to offer that you aren’t finding here?”
“What did you value/dislike most about working here?”
“Can you share your feelings about our management, leadership, and the company in general?”
“Can you share your feelings about your job? Were there specific aspects of your work that you liked/disliked more than others?”

4. In your written survey, include 1 to 5 ratings of specific metrics.

For example, ask your employee to provide an overall rating of the company’s leadership, culture, communication, integrity, etc.

For more sample exit interview questions and tips that can help you motivate your employees and reduce turnover, contact the staffing experts at PSU.


Identifying Performance Problems in the Workplace

June 20th, 2014

If you already have an annual performance review process in place, then you’re on the right track to a productive and efficient workforce. A yearly one-on-one session between every employee and his or her manager can help workers set and achieve goals, and can also help managers identify and correct performance problems before they become expensive disasters. The best annual performance reviews are documented, fair, positive, and built around measurable success metrics.

But despite their benefits, annual reviews may not be quite enough to keep your company ahead of the competition. Here are a few additional steps that can help you address and head off performance problems before they start…all year long.

1. Don’t let confused employees continue their course of action.

Keep your door, ears, and mind open, and employees will come to you with questions and requests for directions and clarification. Close off any of the three, and employees will be afraid to ask questions. They’ll make assumptions instead, and if you’re like most managers, this isn’t what you want.

2. Track baseline metrics accurately.

Your successful employees process more XYZ forms per hour, and your weaker links process fewer forms per hour and make more mistakes along the way. But before you can identify the slower workers, you’ll have to answer three questions: What is the average per-hour form processing rate in your workplace? What’s the average industry-wide? And what are the workplace and industry averages for error rates?

3. Recognize requests for help and feedback as a sign of strength, not weakness.

When employees come to you for help, support, and an open conversation about how they’re doing, step up. Provide what they need. And recognize that despite what other productivity metrics suggest, these are the valuable employees you want on your team—not the silent grinds who never struggle and never strive to improve.

4. When managers and coworkers complain, listen.

It’s not easy to complain to the boss about a disruptive or unproductive coworker. Nobody wants to do this. It’s also not easy to ask for managerial support when a direct report can’t seem to get it together. When employees and managers come to you with complaints about a weak or unproductive team member, take action. Sit down with the person, get both sides of the story, and fix the problem.

5. Give informal feedback all year long.

Formal reviews should happen once (and certainly no more than twice) per year. But informal verbal feedback is always appropriate, and when it’s positive and constructive, it’s always appreciated.

For more on how to stop productivity problems and get them resolved before it’s too late, reach out to the staffing and management experts at PSU.

Phone Interviews: How to Field the Most Common Questions

June 13th, 2014

Companies often begin the interview process with a quick phone screening after the initial resume review stage. Once the stack of candidates is narrowed down to a reasonable size, a round of short phone conversations can narrow it further by eliminating candidates who can’t or won’t accept the job for a host of practical reasons. It’s more cost effective to identify these reasons before bringing a candidate all the way in for an in-person meeting, which can mean travel expenses, missed work, and lost time for both parties.

When your potential employers contact you by phone for a brief round of general questions, you’ll want to be ready, since making the right impression can move you forward to the next stage. Here are a few of the questions that will likely be part of this process.

1. “This job will be located in X city. Your address is outside of a 30 minute commuting range, so what are your plans if you’re offered the position?”

Your employer wants to know if you plan to take on a harrowing commute, or if you intend to move in order to be closer to the workplace. The two of you will need to determine who will cover these moving expenses and how much time this move might take. These are practical considerations that your employer will need to factor into the selection process.

2. “I can see from your resume that you lack a specific credential that this job will require. (A degree, a year of experience, a software skill, etc). How do you plan to step into the role without this qualification?”

If you plan to enroll in a course to compensate for this skill deficit, now is the time to say so. If you’re already enrolled, state your intended completion date. And if you simply don’t have this credential and there’s nothing you can do about it right now, keep the conversation focused on the strengths and contributions you can offer that might make this one issue seem less important.

3. “This job will involve a responsibility that’s (difficult, dangerous, etc). I can tell by some of the details in your resume that you may not be prepared for this. How will you adapt to this challenge?”

Answer honestly. If this information is a dealbreaker for you, say so now. If you still want the job, find a clear, concrete way to explain how and why this challenge won’t be a problem for you.

For more information that can help you navigate the challenges of your initial phone or video screening, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

Should You Supplement Your Staff With Contract Workers?

June 6th, 2014

You have an important new client with a high profile project that will begin during next few months and may strain every one of your existing resources to the limit. Or maybe your high season is about to begin, and if you’re reading the signs correctly, you know this will be a blockbuster year. Or maybe you’re about to launch a new software implementation, acquire a smaller company, expand into a new territory, or embark on a new product rollout.

You know that the future looks bright…but it also looks busy. Very busy. And you’re not sure your current staff has the bandwidth, energy, or stamina to face these challenges alone. Should you start hiring new full time employees? Or should you consider the benefits of contingency staffing? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Contingency Staffing Means Flexibility, Agility and Resilience

Hiring full time employees will involve a high level of commitment and no small amount of financial and practical risk. Sourcing, resume reviews, and interviews are all time consuming and expensive, and mistakes can send you all the way back to square one with nothing to show for your efforts. Contingency staffing, on the other hand, comes with minimal long term commitment and only as much risk as your company can handle. If you aren’t satisfied with your chosen candidates, you have the option not to extend their contracts. And if you and your temp employee are a mismatch, you can simply ask the staffing agency to send you someone else.

Contingency Staffing Means Minimal Legal and Payment Hassles

When you contract with a staffing agency, your workers are employed by the agency, not by you. Which means you don’t have to worry about taxes, insurance, or related paperwork. You simply describe your needs to the agency (or your recruiter), and welcome your chosen employee in the door on day one. Your financial agreement takes place with the agency instead of the employee, so one-on-one salary negotiations aren’t necessary.

Contingency Staffing Means Your Workplace Changes as Your Needs Change

Nobody makes money when there are too many idle employees milling around the workplace. And when a tiny skeleton crew is overloaded to the point of burnout and high turnover, nobody wins. Contingency staffing arrangements can help you avoid both of these possibilities—with independent and temporary contracts, your team is always the perfect size.

For more information on how contingency staffing can help you stay lean while facing the challenges ahead, contact the staffing and business management experts at PSU.

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