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Exit Interviews: Reduce Staff Turnover

Exit interviews are a valuable tool for understanding the reasons why employees are leaving your child care organization. Conducting these interviews in a thoughtful and results-oriented manner can provide actionable insights to improve your working environment and reduce staff turnover.

Here's how to effectively conduct exit interviews for meaningful results:

1. Timing and Approach:

  • Schedule the exit interview shortly before or after the employee's departure, ensuring it occurs while their experiences and reasons for leaving are fresh in their minds.

  • Choose an approach that makes the departing employee feel comfortable. This can be done in person, over the phone, or through written surveys, depending on their preference.

  • It’s worth mentioning that written surveys often don’t give us the full picture. You see, most employees don’t really have time or motivation to fill out these surveys. They might jot down a few quick answers, but it’s tough to get into the nitty-gritty details through checkboxes and comment boxes alone. To truly understand why someone is leaving and how we can improve, it often takes a face-to-face chat or a friendly phone call where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts openly.

2. Prepare for the Interview:

  • Review the departing employee's work history, performance evaluations, and any relevant feedback or incidents. This background information will help you ask specific and relevant questions during the interview.

3. Create a Safe and Non-Blame Environment:

  • Ensure that the exit interview is a safe space where departing employees can openly and honestly share their thoughts and experiences without fear of retaliation or judgment. Assure them that their feedback will remain confidential.

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions:

  • Encourage departing employees to share their experiences and reasons for leaving in their own words. Ask open-ended questions such as:

  • "What factors contributed to your decision to leave?"

  • "Were there specific challenges or concerns during your time here?"

  • "What aspects of our childcare environment do you think we can improve?"

  • "Is there anything that you found particularly rewarding about working here?"

5. Listen Actively:

  • Pay close attention to what the departing employee is saying, and avoid interrupting or defending the organization during the interview. Let them express their thoughts fully.

6. Probe for Details:

  • When necessary, ask follow-up questions to dig deeper into specific issues or concerns. For example, if they mention "communication problems," ask for examples or specifics to better understand the issue.

7. Take Comprehensive Notes:

  • Document the conversation thoroughly, recording both the positive and negative feedback. This documentation will serve as a reference for identifying trends and areas for improvement.

8. The Only Reason is Money:

  • When an employee cites monetary concerns as their primary reason for departure, it's essential to explore potential solutions. Are there opportunities for them to increase their income, perhaps through promotions or other job roles within the organization? Additionally, are there upcoming employee childcare discounts or benefits that could help them save on expenses?

9. Express Appreciation and Empathy:

  • Thank departing employees for their contributions and express empathy for their decision to leave. Acknowledge their feedback and assure them that their input is valuable in improving the organization.

10. The Doors are Always Open If You Want To Return:

  • Toward the end of the interview, extend a heartfelt invitation for them to return should circumstances change. Emphasize that the doors of your childcare center are always open. Just as life's journey can take unexpected turns, it can also circle back to familiar places. Assure them of your school's perpetual welcome, ready to embrace them whenever they may decide to rejoin the school community. This open-door policy symbolizes the enduring bonds and warmth that define your childcare environment.

11. Provide Closure and Next Steps:

  • Before concluding the interview, discuss any outstanding matters, such as returning company property, final paychecks and how to get tax documents. Provide information on how the organization will address their feedback and any relevant changes or improvements.

12. Analyze Feedback and Take Action:

  • After the exit interview, review the feedback received from departing employees. Look for recurring themes or issues that require attention. Collaborate with relevant departments or teams to develop action plans for addressing identified concerns. Prioritize changes that will have the most significant impact on retaining staff and improving the working environment. Communicate the results of exit interviews and the action plan to your current employees to demonstrate your commitment to their satisfaction and well-being.

13. Follow Up:

  • Periodically follow up with current employees to inform them of the progress made based on feedback from exit interviews. This shows your dedication to continuous improvement.

Exit interviews are an essential tool for retaining staff and enhancing your childcare working environment. When conducted with empathy, active listening, and a commitment to making meaningful changes, they can provide valuable insights that contribute to a more positive and supportive workplace culture.


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