How a Stay Interview Boosts Employee Retention

BY Tim Londergan
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Do you know the real reason your last employee left your company? Remarkably, 75% of all employee turnover can be traced back to management. Poor managers often fail to engage or recognize employees. Conversely, good managers empower their staff and allow them to grow and are one of the key reasons that employees stay. Therefore, the question is which kind of manager are you and, for the sake of employee retention, how do you know the true reason that anyone leaves your company?

You Need to Prioritize Employee Retention

Departing employees will cite any number of reasons for walking out, but if you wait until the exit interview to get to the truth, you're in trouble. These interviews are simply too little, too late. For example, you may find inadequate salary or poor work-​life balance was the breaking point for the person leaving. These problems could have been avoided. And in today's job market, losing valuable talent for avoidable reasons is outrageous. By definition, information from an exit interview arrives too late to prevent the departure. Therefore, by prioritizing early discovery of employee insights and experiences, you can head off staff turnover.

Retain Employees with Frequent Manager-​Employee Conversations

As a manager, you can’t go through your day constantly wondering which employee is planning to leave. But you can establish a structured process for checking in with your employees. This is the recommendation of Tomas Chamorro-​Premuzic, writing for Fast Company. He states, “This is a brief, individual conversation with your employees aimed at knowing what makes them want to stay, and what may actually cause them to leave.” First, the stay interview is the exit interview in reverse. Clearly, the power of knowing your team members’ goals and aspirations can help you fit them into your organization. Second, this knowledge may not deter them from leaving but it will improve your chances of employee retention throughout your department.

Some Tips for Conducting a Stay Interview

Research provides guidance for Chamorro-Premuzic’s Stay Interview, and he notes there are no clear-​cut rules. However, to be successful, he stresses the following:

  • Clearly state the reason for the meeting
  • Assure privacy in a one-​on-​one environment
  • All team members must be included (no favoritism)
  • Questions must be related to the job and why the employee is motivated to stay

Undoubtedly, this interview will reveal opportunities to discuss what improvements you can make toward employee retention, and how you, as the manager, can make work more enjoyable or fulfilling. Be aware, the author cautions, you must be prepared to act on these insights and don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. “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.”

Tactics to Retain Employees

In addition to the stay interview, there are ways to improve employee retention that you should consider. First, don’t rush into hiring decisions. Unfortunately, according to growthforce​.com, 80% of all turnover is due to bad hires. Therefore, you should take time to prepare questions to assure that a new hire is a good fit for your company. 

Second, understand why the candidate quit their previous position. Remarkably, these responses may intersect with insights gained from your stay interviews and allow you to make better decisions. 

Third, don’t underestimate the power of recognition and rewards. Employees who are recognized on the job are 7 times more likely to stay with the company according to a Maritz poll. To be clear, these acknowledgements do not have to be budget busters. Indeed, a hand-​written note, a personalized gift card or tickets to an event targeted to the employee’s interest would go far toward employee retention and improved morale.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels