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Exit interviews reveal the issues that lead to turnover

The adage that “employees don’t quit jobs, they quit managers” proves itself time and again in exit interviews, said Christin Myers, director for reducing turnover at Creative Restaurant Solutions, an Exton, Pa.-based consulting firm.

Founded 11 years ago by industry veteran Morreen Rukin Bayles, CRS has interviewed thousands of restaurant workers, managers and executives after they’ve voluntarily left a company. The firm looks for trends and issues and presents restaurant chains with reports of four to five pages. Sometimes an independent third party is able to uncover the real reasons why an employee quits, Myers said.

Why do people quit?

They will say, “I left for a better opportunity,” but that is the surface reason. What made it a better opportunity? What was more attractive? Why did you jump ship for $1,000? Why did you even consider it? Why did you start looking? Why was now the right time to leave XYZ company?

What do you learn as a result?

We find there was usually a conflict with a supervisor or upper management. Not feeling like there are opportunities for growth or advancement is another one. The biggest opportunity [for employers] is development.

What else do people say in exit interviews?

We’ll ask about the culture, the mission statements, core values—everyone has different terms. Is there a disconnect from what higher-ups say and what actually happens on the field? A manager can’t do 100-percent table touches because he’s working in the dish room or on the expo line. That’s where that disconnect comes from. Or there may have been too many changes that were not well-explained, too many changes in the C-suite; there’s a new president, a new CFO, some new change.

Surely some people quit for reasons other than their employers?

Of course. Someone may really get an opportunity that no one would refuse, or a spouse relocates or there is a change in their personal situation. There was not anything that would keep them. But there are things [a company] can do to make their work experience a better one, to give people a positive feeling and make them ambassadors of the brand.

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