Improve Employee Retention with ‘Stay’ Interviews

The Retention Crisis

Employers are facing a talent problem. The last few years have seen a particularly tough labor market with workforce participation at 62.6% and 3 million fewer Americans working today than in 2020. As the workforce shrinks, retention is becoming ever-more difficult. Companies are starting to recognize the need to invest in the employees they have rather than fruitlessly hunting for new talent. 

Even if talent were plentiful, employers would still need to invest in retention efforts. High employee turnover is costly, and on average, organizations lose $18,591 per departing employee. And that doesn’t even consider intangible costs like lost institutional knowledge. Every office is familiar with the concept of exit interviews, but what if you could encourage those employees to stay before they hand in their notice? That’s where stay interviews come in.

The Stay Interview

Stay interviews gauge an employee’s willingness to remain in their role. They typically involve asking about a staff member’s career aspirations, their pain points, what they need to improve their working conditions, and how satisfied they are. They are great tools that uncover the root causes driving employees to leave. By finding out what’s bugging your team, you can address concerns before they walk out the door and leave you short-staffed. 

In short, stay interviews help you avoid exit interviews. And incorporating stay interviews into your company culture isn’t just good for employees, it’s good for business. Here are some best practices to follow when conducting stay interviews.

Build trust

The purpose of stay interviews isn’t to assess an employee’s performance. Instead, think of them as an opportunity to hear employee feedback and discover exactly what employees like and dislike about their jobs. That’s why it’s crucial that stay interviews be conducted by managers, rather than the HR department. 

The purpose of these conversations is to develop a more productive relationship between staff and their direct managers. Continual feedback is invaluable in building trust and modeling a ‘people-centric’ mindset in the workplace. Leaders who establish an open line of communication with staff will reap the benefits.

Connect with large and/or remote teams

As workplaces embrace remote and hybrid working, offices are becoming more difficult to manage. Employees tuning in from different locations and/or time zones can easily become disengaged and unfocused. This becomes even more difficult when you have to manage large teams of remote, hybrid, and in-office employees. 

Stay interviews make sure your team members don’t get lost in the shuffle. Managers with large and/or remote teams should be especially careful to schedule regular check-ins so these workers can discuss concerns or simply touch base.

Don’t put employees under pressure

Managers should be careful not to approach these interviews as a last ditch effort to keep their staff. If you’re desperate not to lose a team member, you’re more likely to become aggressive or pushy. These meetings aren’t supposed to be an interrogation. If you let conversations devolve until you’re at the point of conflict, you let them go too long. Plan in advance by incorporating regular check-ins. This helps you spot problems early and helps your employees feel valued and engaged.  

Pay attention to timing

Be respectful of your employees’ time by scheduling stay interviews around their calendars. Pick times where you won’t be interrupted or have to rush so you can give them your full attention.

In terms of picking the right moment or cadence, Gartner has identified certain ‘career risk triggers’ when job satisfaction wanes and workers start to get itchy feet. 

  • Birthdays
  • When an employee has been in their role for 1-2 years
  • When an employee has been with their organization for 1-2 years.
  • Immediately after a change in responsibilities

Follow through

There’s no point in having stay conversations if they lead nowhere. Whatever action you and your employee mutually decide upon in your discussion, make a plan to move forward in a reasonable timeframe. Once managers get an ‘all talk and no action’ reputation, it’s difficult for that perception to change.

Understand Employee Activity

Employee productivity tracker Prodoscore helps managers know exactly when to schedule stay interviews or check in with their teams. Using the platform, managers can see how employees are interacting with their company’s cloud-based tools - generating real-time productivity data and providing an indicator into a decrease in collaboration and/or overall engagement. 

With visibility into trends, daily scores, and individual activity, managers can hone in on dips in productivity that may indicate an employee is thinking about leaving or feeling overwhelmed. Get in touch today to schedule a demonstration and find out how Prodoscore can help visualize and improve employee engagement at your workplace.

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