Leadership

Hold Stay Interviews to Keep Your Employees Satisfied

Stay interviews

With so many employees quitting in the so-called “Great Recession,” it’s difficult not to become preoccupied with filling vacancies or connecting with team members on their way out. 

But Harvard Business Review suggests that focusing too much on incoming and outgoing personnel leaves out a significant population: those employees who have stuck around. Failing to pay attention to the employees who haven’t quit can backfire. They may end up feeling under-appreciated, especially if they’re picking up the slack of colleagues who have resigned. Remote workers are particularly likely to feel disconnected from their teams. 

What’s more, with even more employees making exit plans and a slough of openings to fill, neglecting those who stay could lead to even more vacancies at your company.  A better strategy, then, is prioritizing the team you have. 

“The best way to stabilize your business is to stem the tsunami of attrition and increase your retention. In the frantic need to hire more people, the group we often forget to attend to are the folks who stay — those showing up day-in and day-out shouldering the work that needs to get done,” write Cohen and Roeske-Zummer.

How can you focus on team members who haven’t quit?

One of the best methods is by holding “stay interviews.” These interviews ask team members why they have stayed at the company and what they need to remain there.

Read on to learn more about these retention-boosting interviews. 

What is a stay interview?

We’re more familiar with the “exit interview,” which questions departing workers about why they’re seeking employment elsewhere. In this type of interview, however, departing employees have already severed their ties, leaving no opportunity to remedy bad situations. Though this type of interview is helpful in changing company culture, it doesn’t help the employee who found the situation problematic enough to quit. 

Dan Turner, CEO of Xperigo, is a fan of stay interviews. He started holding them for two reasons. First, he wanted to address issues that might encourage employees to disconnect from the company. Secondly, he wanted his managers and their employees to build stronger and more consistent bonds. 

“What came out of those meetings was truly incredible. Things were brought to our attention that we had no idea were bothering people so much. They were simple fixes that paid immediate dividends,” he said. 

The “Rules” for Stay Interviews

Hold them regularly and schedule them early. Putting out immediate fires often takes priority, but interviewing someone after an issue becomes a significant problem goes against the purpose of this type of meeting. Scheduling consistent interviews and following through with them also builds trust. 

Connect with employees one one one. Stay interviews may seem similar to surveys, but they differ on one key aspect: they are not anonymous. In surveys, something that majorly concerns one team member may get flagged as unimportant since only one person is concerned. What’s more, these interviews let managers create plans – including flexible scheduling or other individualized perks – that are relevant to only one person. 

Conduct the interviews with everyone. Even if some stay interviews are more pressing than others (perhaps you’ve heard a team member is sending out job applications), you still need to interview everyone. Word will certainly get around, and employees will feel devalued if they’re not interviewed – precisely what you don’t want to do. 

Keep the interview questions balanced. Exit interviews can sometimes feel negative because they are post mortems about what drove the employee to quit. While you should also discuss factors that make your team members unhappy, the focus should be on what makes them stay, hence the name. What motivates them? How does the position fit into their long-term career goals? 

Here are questions you could ask in a stay interview: 

  • What keeps you motivated in your position? 
  • How does this role relate to your long-term career goals? 
  • What do you like most about your day? 
  • What do you appreciate most about our company culture? 
  • How do you know the company values you? What do you need to feel more valued?
  • Is there anything you need to be more satisfied in your role here? 
  • Have you ever considered leaving the company? What made you stay? 
  • What would you need to commit to a long-term future here? 
  • How could I improve as a manager? 

Next comes the most important step: make improvements based on the feedback you receive. 

“Whatever insights you gather will be useless unless you are determined to act on them. This requires you to not just digest the findings of your stay interview, but also make an effort to reinforce what works, change what doesn’t, and assess how your efforts are working out,” Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is the Chief Innovation Officer at ManpowerGroup

The Value of the Stay Interview

Rather than waiting until a person has quit to understand why they were unhappy, stay interviews help you understand what your team finds motivating and demotivating while they still work there. These interviews also help you focus on what is important to your team – why they stay – which is just as valuable. 

At the same time, scheduling periodic check-ins with your team about what’s satisfying to them fosters a stronger bond, doubly reinforcing their commitment to the company. If you use their feedback to improve their situation, too, they’ll recognize that they can come to you with concerns, rather than quitting before trying to resolve them. 


Additional: What’s In Your Quiver? Leadership Skills for the Future of Work


 

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