Exit surveys aim to identify attrition trends, improvement needs

  • Published
  • By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
  • Air Force Materiel Command

With the competition for talent fierce across the Department of Defense and industry, finding ways to keep skilled civilian experts on the job is critical to the ability to meet current and future warfighting needs.

A new exit survey initiative aims to help Air Force Materiel Command leadership better understand why people leave the organization and identify opportunities to improve retention and engagement.

“Our goal is to collect consistent, quantifiable data that can help us assess perceptions of the workplace regarding mission, culture, leadership, communication, and employee recognition,” said Ashley Morgan, chief, AFMC Personnel Programs. “Ultimately, we want to understand why people are leaving the organization, whether for a new position, retirement or other, and to better understand if we need to make changes to our work environment in order to increase employee engagement and minimize turnover.”

The anonymous exit survey will be hosted on Survey Monkey and be a standardized item on out- processing checklists for civilians leaving any AFMC headquarters or center organization. The questions asked will be the same for all exiting employees, regardless of center affiliation, in order to ensure the collected data can be accurately assessed for trends.

Survey questions cover a wide-range of topics including mission and culture, leadership, communication, resources, recognition, training and more. The survey also captures the reasons an individual is leaving the organization, including voluntary retirements, job transfers, reassignments and more.

“We want to understand if there are different factors that are driving the attrition of diverse demographic groups,” said Morgan. “To implement the best change actions based on this data, we need to understand the overall reasons affecting each individual as well as the demographic group’s decision to leave the organization.”

The exit survey is one of a number of tools that AFMC is using to address talent management and retention across the mission. These include widespread use of workforce flexibilities such as remote work and telework, use of centralized hiring cells for entry and developmental positions, expedited hiring timelines and use of Direct-Hire Authorities to bring new talent faster.

However, while acquiring new talent is important, it is critical that the command retain the highly specialized, trained experts who are key to keeping our Air Force mission ready.

“Skilled employees are critical for mission success. We must understand why they want to stay and what makes them leave.  This effort provides, for the first time, a mechanism to help identify changes that we need to make to retain top performers,” said Bill Snodgrass, AFMC Director of Manpower, Personnel and Services. “Talent management matters. If we can continue to improve our workplaces and make AFMC a choice organization in which to work, we will benefit from having the best and brightest on our teams long into the future.”