As we move through March now is the time to think about next season. I know, the last thing you want to put effort into, but a little time now can make next fall and early winter much easier in terms of staffing and hiring for your seasonal positions.
The Exit Interview can be a very useful tool for retention and learning what needs to be addressed during the offseason. Your HR department probably requires an exit interview or maybe not, but typically there isn’t a lot of effort put into this very useful tool.
Let’s first take a look at some employment facts that are not from the ski industry, but I’d argue they are relevant as they have been developed from a broad base of data.
Replacing a returning staff person with a new hire can be ½ to 2 times the staff person’s annual salary. You can do the math yourself. How many returnees will I have versus new hires?
A former staff person, non-returner, may have developed personal relationships with customers. For those customers that connection with the staff person was your ski area and now that relationship from the ski area’s perspective is at risk.
Disgruntled seasonal staff leaving and sharing their unhappiness does not help your recruiting for the next season.
As a refresher, it is important to put the exit interview in perspective as to where it fits in the employee life cycle. The Employee Experience covers from attracting the employee to the exit interview. By understanding the employee life cycle and what aspects might be causing negative employee experiences, you can talk about these in the exit interview to gain more insight on what you can address going forward.
Seasonal employees are going to leave there is no denying that and many will have life experiences that prevent them from returning next year. However, for those who you want to return and those who can possibly return, the exit interview is this year’s step to provide a high probability that they will.
It is a competitive job market, which you know better than me, and gathering input from your seasonal staff can provide you with a lot of information. Two things you need to make sure happen in the interview: staff have to be able to speak openly without fear and you have to listen. Hopefully, this is not new territory for you or them.
From the employee’s perspective it is important they feel heard. Communication is essential to a positive exit. They want to feel proud of their contributions. Most likely everyone who is leaving at the end of the season has made some contribution to the team’s performance. Having them leave with a sense of contribution is important in their possible returning or speaking positively about working at your ski area. You would want to have every leaving seasonal employee leave as a brand ambassador having a final impression of the ski areas brand identity, mission, and culture.
Once the interviews are completed the opportunity exists to leverage all that information into an improved employee experience. You now have input from multiple sources from which you can with your HR folks begin an ongoing discussion on lessons learned and what needs changing. If you are lucky enough to have other data sources like performance metrics, customer satisfaction metrics, and demographics connecting those points to those gained from exit interviews you will have an excellent picture of your performance.
Begin next year’s hiring now, you will be appreciative of your effort next November, I’m sure.
This article is a summation of a white paper produced by Gallup, Inc. 2018