Stay Interviews: Free Employee Retention Program That Doesn’t Suck

I’m always surprised how quick companies are to design an exit interview program taking a completely reactive approach to employee retention.  Studies tell us that 21 million employees in the US have or are changing jobs this year with 82% of your employee population having actively looked for work .  A proactive approach that often compliments your already existing employee exit interview program are stay interviews.

Stay Interviews as Powerful Employee Retention Program

Stay interviews are private one on one meetings with the employee before they turn in their resignation notice. You know, before the organization has the employee turnover.  These employee meetings can be simple yet candid 30 minute or more conversations either facilitated by human resources or manager focused on standard questions designed to provide the employee with an opportunity to clear the air and are built on trust.  Threats of intimidation or ego by leaders must be checked at the door.  Unlike employee survey’s these question and answer sessions involve conversation, compassion, and engagement not a standard number two pencil in which to complete your annual employee survey.

Seven Stay Interview Questions

  • What things do you most look forward to in your work day?
  • What parts of your job are the most challenging?
  • What parts of your job do you enjoy?
  • How are we (the company) helping you learn and further develop your skills?
  • What are more ways we can help you be successful at company x?
  • What can I (manager x) do to help you be more successful and happier at your job?
  • What are some reasons that might make you consider leaving our organization?

Management’s Biggest Weakness Is Follow Up

Stay interviews are simple but require your management team to overcome their biggest weakness and that is follow up.  For any engagement program or employee retention program to be effective, organization leaders must formulate a plan and strategy in which to address and execute the concerns discussion in the employee stay interview meeting.  Even more importantly they must mean it.  You can’t fake engagement, compassion, or follow through.  Stay interview programs are only effective when managers meet with their employee teams individually every 30-60 days at minimum holding the managers (themselves) as well as their individual employees accountable for the action items and individual employee retention plans discussed.  And when I say accountable, a Outlook Calendar scheduled task  is not acceptable.  It is not enough.

Employee retention or as I like to call them re-recruiting programs are not easy, but they offer the opportunity engage  your workforce who has already assimilated into the company culture, understands expectations, has received training, and is performing in currently a satisfactory manner.  With effective stay interview and employee retention programs, cost per hire and other recruitment metrics are effectively zero.  And when it comes to organizational expenses and expenditures, we could always use a little more zero and free in our lives.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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