Published Date: 01/13/2014
By Reneé Watkins
Every organization would like to see a high rate of employee retention over a long period of time. What is the best way to achieve this goal? We spend time and effort to understand why employees leave when they give us notice and by then it is often too late to react. Perhaps if we first understood the reasons an employee chooses to stay with the organization it would help us to better reinforce those positive factors and drive retention rates upward across the workforce.
“Stay” interviews are becoming a popular norm among companies taking a pro-active approach to employee retention. If you are relatively new at conducting stay interviews, consider one of the suggested formats below to get you started:
Anytime a manager takes the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a team member, you have invoked one of the most powerful tools for increasing employee retention. Employees want to work for an organization that demonstrates concern for their welfare and happiness in the workplace. Work with managers to encourage such “interviews” and present them with a set of employee engaging questions as a guide.
Human Resources One-on-One
Sometimes an employee may be reluctant to discuss certain issues with their manager. This is where HR can provide another opportunity for direct employee engagement. Do not wait for the employee to come to you. If they are reluctant to speak with their manager, they may also be reluctant to speak with HR. Make it a practice to reach out to employees on a regular basis and simply involve them in conversation regarding their thoughts on the company and their job.
To engage employees who are reluctant to speak openly regarding their concerns, provide an employee survey to give them an opportunity to anonymously provide their feedback. An anonymous survey will provide them a forum in which to be completely open and honest. However, also convey the fact the door to HR is always open to them with complete confidentiality and invite them to come forward and discuss in more detail. This will demonstrate your concern for their happiness in the workplace.
A focus group can be used to bring together a small group of employees who work in a similar role and ask for both positive and negative feedback on company activities. Sometimes it only takes one employee to start the conversation and others will jump in as part of the group. When employees feel they are not the only person with concerns, they are more likely to participate in an honest and open discussion.
Stay interviews should be conducted with key employees on a periodic basis and should not coincide with employee reviews. Remember, this is designed to promote your interest in their welfare and job satisfaction. Make sure to put the employee at ease and explain they are not being singled out as a result of anything they’ve done.
For some organizations, it would be impossible to conduct routine stay interviews with every employee, regardless of how great it would be to do so. It is very important to concentrate your focus on key employees who would create a negative impact on the business if they chose to leave.
Also, it is important to remember you will never be able to please everyone all the time. Some concerns may be aired that you are unable to address directly via policies or new initiatives. In these cases, all you may be able to do is listen and offer understanding.
Equally important however, is your effort to address concerns that can be resolved. If your employee has taken the steps required to voice their concerns to you, your efforts to take action will be how they measure their true value to the organization. If you fail here, your efforts to improve employee retention may have the opposite effect.
Be sure also to promote the positives you hear in a stay interview. If several employees mention the same reason they stay with your organization, put that in a newsletter or on the company website, preserving their anonymity of course. Always promote the positive as both a retention and a recruiting tool.
Stay interviews have been developed as a proven methodology for reducing turnover and the added expense of recruiting and training new employees to fill vacated positions.