Turnover in the restaurant world can be quick. People come in and out of your restaurant all the time, often seemingly at random. If you want to get more out of your operation, though, you need to know why your employees leave and have a good idea of where they are going. The best way to learn what you need to know is to conduct exit interviews – a process that can turn up a great deal of valuable information if done correctly.
The benefits of exit interviews
Exit interviews are not always easy to conduct, but they are important. While many employees are now urged to skip these interviews, conducting them in the right way can be incredibly beneficial to your business. Below are just a handful of reasons why you need to start taking this process seriously.
The obvious answer
The obvious reason to conduct this type of interview is, of course, to figure out why your employee is leaving. It’s always good to know if your issues surround problems that can be fixed or if you are looking at something that is simply beyond your control. Remember, these interviews aren’t meant to help you stop an employee from leaving or give you a chance to tell your former employee that he or she is making a mistake – but rather for you to get the kind of information you can’t from someone who is still worried about getting a paycheck.
Conduct these interviews so you can satisfy your curiosity and start getting the information you need to keep your best employees around. While there’s very little you can do to stop someone from walking away, getting the obvious answers will give you a chance to keep your business moving in a better direction.
Figuring out how to help employees
While these interviews may not be terribly helpful for fixing the problems of an exiting employee, they should be used to help out those who are still around. The answers given to you in these interviews should help to highlight areas of employee development that might be otherwise ignored. Most employees want chances to develop their skills and become better at their jobs, but most don’t know how to vocalize that in a manner that management will listen to. If you’re willing to conduct an honest interview when an employee leaves, you might find out more about the kind of atmosphere you should have created to help that employee stay.
Not all employees leave because of the actions of a business, of course. But many do have suggestions about what could have been done to make their own jobs better while they were still employed by you. If you can give yourself the chance to really talk to your former employees and figure out what would have made their jobs easier, you stand a good chance of making sure you know what’s going to keep people coming back to work in the future.
Understanding the high points
These interviews shouldn’t be all bad news. Good interviews will also tell you what employees enjoyed about working for you. In some cases, of course, the feedback you get won’t be actionable – the employee may have enjoyed working with specific people or had preferences that are unique only to him or her. Most employees, though, will tell you a bit about what you have done right if you manage to create the right kind of atmosphere in your restaurant.
If your employee manages to talk about something that he or she will miss, try to get more information. This might be something that your business can double down on in order to make sure that others stay. While very few are going to talk about your great accounting practices, some might point towards certain management actions or the skills of shift leaders as being beneficial. This can give you a good idea of who to promote in the future and what changes you can make to help your business continue to succeed after your employee leaves.
Updating your expectations
A good interview on the exit of an employee will also help you to see the restaurant world with new eyes. The way you do business is largely going to be informed by how your own past experiences have gone – but your employees tend to function in a world that’s much more connected to the modern market. One of the best ways to keep up with trends in compensation and benefits is to talk to those who are leaving for greener financial pastures.
Are you always going to be able to match the top dollar in your industry? Probably not. You can, however, get an idea of what your employees will reasonably expect in the near term. If you find out that one of your employees is leaving for what is essentially a lateral career move but he or she is making much more money, you should expect that you’ll either need to update your current compensation package or that you should expect to see a number of your other employees leave for new opportunities as well.
Protecting your brand
As important as it is to understand the flaws in your business relationship with a former employee, it’s equally as important that you protect your brand. As such, a good exit interview should function as a chance for you to get ahead of the damage control process with those employees who are still working for you. Nothing spreads around a kitchen faster than gossip, so having the chance to get ahead of things may be the best way to save the reputation of your business.
Make sure you keep the atmosphere in your exit interviews open and honest so that you can get useful information. This will help you to root out issues that might otherwise not become apparent during your typical work-day. Whether everyone is frustrated with your POS choice or there’s discontent because of a management decision, you can make changes before those feelings cause more fallout.
These interviews can be incredibly useful for your business, but only if conducted properly. Don’t just jump into an interview when you find out an employee is leaving – have a solid plan in place to get the information that you need. Once you can conduct such an interview in a meaningful manner, you’ll start to see more benefits of exit interviews. To learn more about these interviews and other HR matters, make sure to contact PayTech – and while you’re at it, sign up for our newsletter. We work hard to make sure you’re receiving all of the newest business practices, insider tips, and more.