In my years in the workforce, I’ve had jobs with amazing bosses and managers. One or two were incredible mentors of mine and I’m still in touch with them. On the flip side, I’ve also had terrible managers who made me question whether or not I wanted to stay in that organization. One situation made me so miserable for so long that I eventually said enough was enough and handed in my letter of resignation.

In this age of the “Great Resignation,” employee retention needs to be a focus for every business — especially home service contractors who have already been experiencing a significant labor shortage for years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs, and the data suggests that this is not just a short term effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather the continuation of a rising trend.

With this in mind, retention becomes even more important for businesses in every market. But if retention efforts fail, and an employee inevitably does leave, exit interviews provide one way to help business owners and management dial into their company’s culture and dig into the root of any problems. They can help uncover a multitude of issues that will help improve your processes and procedures, as well as help to implement changes in your hiring process in discerning whether or not a candidate is a good fit.

Plumbing & Mechanical magazine held an online poll on this very topic. The results were pretty even. Of the respondents (as of June 22), 47% of plumbing and HVAC contracting companies conduct exit interviews, while 53% do not.

I just think this is a missed opportunity for PHVAC contractors if they choose not to implement this process. The jobs I left also did not conduct exit interviews. I would have loved the chance to explain why I was leaving. Wouldn’t you want to know if a specific manager or company policy was pushing good employees to leave?

When used effectively, exit interviews reveal the true causes of employee turnover and inform targeted strategies to improve employee retention. According to the Work Institute, a resource for employee retention programs, “Nearly every organization is unique in the reasons employees leave, which underscores the value of exit interviews as a foundational element of an effective retention strategy in every company.” According to a 2017 Retention Report, only 7.6% of companies shared the most common turnover profile or the same top reasons employees leave in the same order of priority. This shows how different the reasons employees leave are in each company’s workforce and demonstrates how easily leaders could misjudge the reasons for turnover in their company.

The Society for Human Resource Management notes that “information collected in an exit interview can give a company a unique perspective on its performance and employee satisfaction. People who leave may be brutally honest about their experiences without fear of immediate repercussions. In addition, it’s likely they have recently been job hunting and interviewing and can offer some useful intelligence on how the company compares with other employers.”

Does your contracting company conduct exit interviews? What are your experiences with them? I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at