Tag Archives: reader question

exit interview

How Can We Fix the Exit Interview Process? [Reader Question]

When I left my last job, I had an exit interview where my employer asked me all kinds of questions about my satisfaction and why I was leaving, but I didn’t answer honestly because I was already leaving. Do they actually use that information or was the exit interview a waste of time?

exit interviewThe Value of Exit Interviews

Exit interviews are the process by which employers talk with exiting employees anywhere from a day to a week before they depart the company, asking questions about their satisfaction, issues, or areas to improve.

As an employer, I very much appreciated exit interviews. They gave me insights that were tough to get from the day-to-day interactions with people. While I did hate having to have conversations with people who were leaving, I tracked each answer they gave and created a system that categorized the information to make it as meaningful and actionable as possible.

Sample Exit Interview Questions

  1. Why did you begin looking for a new job?
  2. What appealed to you about the new job, company, and/or culture?
  3. What could have been done for you to remain here?
  4. Did you share your concerns with anyone here prior to leaving?
  5. If you could change anything about your job or the company, what would it be?
  6. Would you consider coming back to work here in the future? In what capacity? What would need to change?

The Issues with the Exit Interview Process

The biggest problem with exit interviews is that people are not often honest in how they respond to questions (which can make the data useless). For instance, asking someone why they were looking for a new job will often net the response of “I’m just looking for a new challenge” or “I needed career growth.” Those can sometimes be code for “My manager is a terrible person and I can’t stand it anymore.”

So, why are people sometimes less than truthful, since they are leaving anyway? The biggest reason is a fear of burning a bridge in case the new job doesn’t work out like they hope. If it turns out to be even worse, the person might want to come back, and answering the questions truthfully may seem like they are slamming the door, locking it, and throwing away the key forever.

Potential Solutions for Fixing Exit Interviews

That said, there are a few techniques I’ve learned over the years to improve exit interview data collection and the experience for the person on the receiving end as well. If you want to have a great exit interview, here are a few of my go-to requirements these days:

  • Send a survey form via Google Docs (it’s free!) at least two weeks AFTER the person takes their new job. They are already rooted in their new role and will usually give you more honest answers, especially if they don’t have to do it face to face or via voice.
  • Do a follow up phone call a month later asking deeper questions and reinforcing the responses they already gave with any additional detail. By now they are six weeks into their new job and they know if they are going to stay and be happy, for the  most part. This means they can be more open and honest about the conditions and experiences at your company, offering more helpful data points to support decision making.

The other important piece is to try and use the data you get. If a manager is consistently losing people but nobody will say the manager is the problem, you need to dig deeper, because statistically managers are responsible for 70% of an employee’s satisfaction on the job. It may be pay or it may be benefits, but the majority of the time it’s actually their direct supervisor that is the issue.

Why Do Companies Pay Cost of Living, Not What the Job is Worth? [Reader Question]

Another reader question today, this time on compensation. If you have questions you can always email ben@upstarthr.com and we’ll fit it into the queue if possible!

Why do companies pay employees by cost of living of the city/country that the employee is working from rather than the cost/value of the work? Can employees game this system to earn more money?

This is an interesting question, but the truth is it’s not either/or–it’s both. Employers must consider both internal equity and external/market equity when building a compensation structure.

Employers pay what the job is worth, or they will never be able to hire anyone. Try offering a software engineer $10,000 a year and see if they want to work for you. This is about internal value and equity–what value does this job have to the firm relative to other jobs? There’s a general hierarchy in terms of pay rates, which is why an administrative assistant earns less than the CEO.  Continue reading

Does #HR care more about employees or protecting the company? [Reader Question]

I love answering questions from readers, because they encourage me to explore topics I might otherwise not touch on, such as today’s discussion. Have a question of your own? Share it and I’ll try to work it into the schedule!

Does HR care more about the employees or protecting the company?

HR’s Primary Role

When someone is hired into the HR profession, their primary role is to support the “people” functions of the company, such as hiring, training, and retaining employees. It’s funny if you think about that being the primary responsibility set, because we know that managers select candidates, often recommend workers for development, and are the reason that 80-90% of workers leave the organization, Regardless, that’s our job: tie the business objectives with the people process objectives to the degree we can.  Continue reading

sick leave

Can We Dock an Employee for Using Company Paid Leave? [Reader Question]

sick leaveWe get all kinds of interesting questions about HR, talent, and the workplace, and today is no exception. Have your own question? Shoot it in to us and we’ll keep it anonymous!

Can an employee be docked on a yearly/scored performance evaluation for using their paid sick leave benefit for legitimate medical appointments?

The Purpose of Employer Paid Leave

Continue reading

How to Legally Avoid Paying Overtime Wages [Reader Question]

I’m trying out a new Q&A format for some questions I’ve received in the last few weeks. Let me know what you think in the comments or by emaiing me your own question to ben@upstarthr.com

overtime clockLast week I got a question in the mailbag that was short and to the point.

How can we avoid paying overtime to employees?

My answer was short and sweet: Continue reading

HR’s Bad Reputation is Discouraging Me from an HR Career

My good friend Alison Green over at Ask a Manager passed me this question she received because it’s HR-centric. I think many of you will get value from what could have been just another private email conversation, so I’m sharing the question and response here. If anyone else has comments PLEASE add them below, because we’re all better when we help each other, right?
Dear Alison,
I’m currently in my final year of high school and strongly considering pursuing an HR designation in post-secondary. Reading through your blog, I am very often reminded that HR exists primarily for the company (preventing lawsuits, attracting and retaining talent, etc.) and issues that employees have are resolved with the company’s best interests in mind. As such, I can understand why HR can sometimes gain a reputation for being useless (even if I do find it somewhat discouraging).
That being said, I would like to ask you for your input on what an effective HR manager should be like in terms of going above and beyond to support employees when the job description may not ask for it.
I’m thinking especially on how you would advise someone on the HR side to handle a situation where, for example, a department manager is out of control (but not doing anything illegal) and because of nepotism, is safe from consequences or intervention? If HR’s hands are tied, how could HR still go on to assist the employee even though the root cause isn’t solved?
How can HR still be supportive to employees in situations where the company calls for neutrality (or even to side with the company when it is ethically at fault)? And vice-versa?
I think overall I am just experiencing a sense of helplessness when I read stories with negative experiences with HR. On one hand, I can understand that there may be certain legal and logical restrictions to what an HR rep can do that sometimes the employee can’t see. On the other hand, I don’t want to be someone who just throws her hands up and says, “There is nothing I can do for you.” and adheres to the bare minimum requirements.
Is this something that will get better once I have more experience? Am I just being too emotional or naive about my job expectations? If so, any input on helping me recalibrate?
-J

Thank you for being very clear about your questions and concerns, J.

HR does exist to protect the company, and this is still prevalent thinking in many organizations. However, it’s also true that many forward-thinking firms are offloading these compliance-related functions to legal and are focusing more on how to improve employee performance, create better working environments, drive worker engagement, etc.

5 characteristics of a great HR manager Continue reading

Is HR an art or science?

art

Art

A reader recently emailed to ask me if I thought HR was more of an art or a science. My quick answer was “both.” Projects, programs, and strategies all (should be) based on solid numbers and facts. Otherwise, why do them at all? However, the more day-to-day interactions that most of us are familiar with seems to be more of an art. When you’re flying by the seat of your pants and making quick decisions based on your gut instincts, there’s not much science involved.

This is a large snippet of a post called HR is an art, but you should act like a scientist from Renegade HR. I read it a while back, but I came across it a few days ago and thought it was appropriate. Continue reading