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Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Staff 83 tions that can affect an employee's ability to perform the basic job functions and from making automatic decisions to place the employee on an out-of-work status, rather then recognizing the availability of modified or light-duty work assignments, and providing necessary medical care or therapy should clearly be established goals of the worker's compensation program. The expectation that an employee will accept modified duty assignments and remain a func- tional member of the workforce clearly demonstrates the employer's commitment to rehabili- tation of its valued workforce. Proactive programs decrease the likelihood that an injured employee will simply become lost or forgotten during his/her recovery period, and can decrease the overall number of days spent out of work, reducing the overall expense of managing this risk. Completing the Cycle In the beginning of this manual, the human resources process was defined as cyclical in nature, as each phase, from job definition to recruitment to hiring, hiring to training, and then to reten- tion, builds upon the previous stage. While applying the fundamentals and processes outlined in each of those phases is important to the development and deployment of a more compre- hensive approach to human resources, simply doing so does not guarantee a successful approach. The last phase of the cycle must include evaluating the process to identify success and failure, and then feeding this information back into each of the previous stages and making adjustments to determine where adjustments may be required. In addition to developing employee commit- tees and applying the fundamentals described in the section of retention, there are other ways in which management can gain feedback from employees that will help to shore up the process. These include conducting interviews of former or separating employees (exit interviews), con- ducting regular employee surveys frequently known as organizational health assessments, and seeking information during the performance review process, which was discussed previously. Exit Interviews Even with the most well planned hiring process, the most comprehensive training programs, the greatest work environment, and the most competitive wage and benefit programs, turnover, however minimal, is a fact of employment. Whether voluntary or involuntary, employee sepa- rations offer the opportunity for management to follow up with an exit interview. Exit interviews can be useful in determining where the recruiting, hiring, training and man- agement process may require review or adjustment. Appendix H includes some examples of exit interviews. When an employee leaves, his or her reason for leaving as well as overall opinion of the organization should be sought, preferably through a direct interview. This interview may or may not include a survey as well. The information gained through this process can be collected and tracked, potentially identifying controllable trends that may be addressed in other areas of the operation. Some agencies have hired consulting firms to conduct this type of interview, oth- ers make it available on-line or otherwise anonymous in order to encourage candid responses. When exit interviews are conducted varies; some agencies prefer to conduct them at the time of separation, others choose to wait a period of three to six months after separation, under the premise that the time will serve to remove or lessen emotional biases on the part of the employee. Organizational Health Assessments While the exit interview is a good opportunity to gather valuable information, it is also done after the fact--the employee has already left or has expressed a desire to leave. His/her feed- back is important and an exit interview may change his/her decision (be careful, withdrawal of

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84 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas an employee's resignation is most likely only a temporary decision on the part of the employee). Managers should never wait for this opportunity alone to ask questions. Instead of waiting until they are gone or lost causes, managers should be more proactive and seek similar information from current employees. This can be done through what is commonly called an organizational health assessment. Whether conducted in-house or by an outside firm for this specific purpose, or as a part of management performance reviews, surveying current employees to determine their feelings, beliefs, and opinions about their work environment provides valuable feedback that can be used to improve current practices. These types of surveys may relate to operational issues, policy or procedural issues, management interaction, system governance and administration, compensa- tion (pay and benefits), and/or the overall work environment. Ensuring the anonymity and con- fidentiality of responses to these information gathering surveys often improves the volume of feedback as well as the truthfulness of the responses, as employees can speak their minds with- out fear of reprisal. Interpreting the Findings Whether through exit interviews conducted at the end of an employment or through organi- zational health assessments conducted of current employees, the information gained can be used to directly influence the employment process. Common issues identified in either surveys of current employees or in exit interviews may include Money and compensation, Operating conditions, Scheduling, Personal needs, and Manager/supervisory relationships. Where issues identified are related to policy or budgetary constraints, the transit system should first look to review its recruiting and hiring processes to ensure that the employee was not given inaccurate information, and, therefore, did not develop false perceptions in the initial hiring phase, resulting in recruiting the wrong person, particularly when there is little room to make adjustments to things like wage rates and other compensation. Where issues indicate personal conflicts such as scheduling and work assignments, consideration can also be given to adopting more flexible operating rules. Where issues point to performance or skills, evaluation of train- ing programs (or, in some cases, the documentation thereof) may be warranted. Where responses indicate management/supervisory relations and the overall environment, an empha- sis on improving these soft management areas should be made, either through development of individual managers/supervisors or of programs that encourage better relationships.