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How To Use Exit Interviews To Reduce Turnover In LTC & Senior Living

Use stay interviews to reduce turnover in senior careExit interviews can be tricky to conduct and many senior care organizations may not think they’re valuable because the employee has already committed to leave.

However, the exit interview can offer a treasure trove of helpful information, provided you know how to process and use it. Here are some steps long-term care and senior living companies can take in implementing exit interviews to collect valuable, actionable information that can improve workplace culture and reduce turnover.

What Information Should You Seek?

Every exit interview should ask basic questions that help get to the root of the reason (or reasons) an employee is leaving. With that in mind, you should strive to collect the following information:

  • Specific reasons for leaving
  • The things most liked and disliked about the company
  • What the employee enjoyed most and least about their job
  • Was job training sufficient?
  • Were employee benefits and pay competitive within the senior care profession?
  • Any changes the employee would recommend

Setting an agenda and knowing what information needs to be collected makes it easier to create questions that will elicit valuable answers.

When Should The Exit Interview Occur?

For more engaged responses, try to schedule the interview prior to the employee's last day. Let the interviewee know beforehand that the discussion will be a safe space for honest feedback and all information shared will be confidential - unless they provide information that you have a legal or moral obligation to act on. 

5 Areas To Probe

A combination of factors often drive an employee to seek out or be receptive to a new work opportunity, and it’s up to you to uncover those reasons. You shouldn’t assume anything as to why a caregiver has chosen to leave, or why a long-time leader decided to find a new opportunity:

  1. Determine the overarching reason for their leaving.

Kick off the exit interview with this line of questioning to get the elephant out of the room to make the employee feel more comfortable discussing why he or she is leaving the organization.  If the employee brings up issues of abuse, neglect, harassment or discrimination, act on it immediately. 

  1. Determine what the person liked best about working for your organization.

This will provide insight into how they view your culture and what you need to continue to build on. If they don’t mention what you feel are your organization’s strengths, determine how you missed the mark in terms of communicating or reinforcing these ideals.

  1. Determine areas for improvement.

As a follow up, see if the employee has any recommendations to improve the workplace—whether it’s more flexible scheduling, giving caregivers more tools to help them successfully care for residents or offering more consistent rewards and recognition.

To generate more discussion, ask for a specific number of things the company can do to improve.

  1. Ask about the good and not so good things specific to their job.

It’s not unusual for employees to leave because of their job function or the demands of the job. This may help shed light on job roles that may need to be reworked or given more support.

  1. Ask specifically what it is about the new job (and company) that influenced their decision to leave?

Senior care organizations are always sizing up the competition, so here’s an opportunity to gain insight into what others are doing to attract new hires. If an employee has accepted a new job, this line of questioning may reveal your company’s shortcomings in areas such as pay, culture, benefits and flexibility.

A Couple Stay Interview Don’ts

  1. Don’t play into hearsay.

Rumors and speculation might be flying around the community as to why a particular employee is leaving, however it’s your responsibility to remain objective and not feed into it. If the employee addresses what’s being said, however, it’s fine to discuss in greater detail.

  1. Don’t get defensive.

It might not be easy to hear someone talk negatively about your organization, especially if you feel some of the feedback is unfair or untrue. Remain impartial and don’t dispute the employee’s perceptions. However, you can and should correct any factually incorrect information. Keep track of all feedback given and look for patterns among recently departed employees to determine validity and if action is necessary.

What If You Want Them To Stay?

What if this is a good employee who you don’t want to lose?  You will need to listen carefully to what the person is telling you about why they are leaving. Determine for a better opportunity that will advance their career – which you should respect – or if they are running from something at your company that you can correct without creating other problems. Never try to talk someone into staying solely because it will make your life easier. 

Separate from the exit interview, consider adding ‘stay interviews’ to your regular employee communications. Before an employee is approached about or seeks out another job opportunity, regularly talk to them about how things are going and act on their recommendations and concerns. This will help you reduce turnover and the number of exit interviews you conduct.

Learn how to use stay interviews as part of your employee engagement strategy.

How To Take Action To Improve Your Company Culture

Keep track of what people say during exit interviews and stay interviews to look for common themes that need addressed. Then decide how you can take action to make process improvements to boost your organization’s culture and prevent further employee turnover.

No senior care community wants to see its workers depart, but when that time arises, an exit interview can be an integral tool. With a variety of questions, you can collect helpful information about where your organization succeeds and where it falls short. Equipped with this information, organizations can then make meaningful changes to reduce turnover and increase workplace satisfaction.

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