Rather than waiting to “unexpectedly” hear that an employee is leaving and conducting an exit interview to understand why they quit, the key to retaining good staff could be in regular one-on-one interviews to learn what keeps them motivated to stay in the business.

In the current talent scarce market, losing employees, especially high performing ones, can make a significant impact on your business both from an operational perspective as well as the time and expense associated with finding a replacement. As the name suggests, stay interviews are designed to help you understand what your business is doing well and what it could do better to retain staff.

While employee retention may be the primary motivator, stay interviews also help build engagement and trust between managers and their team – it’s a clear signal that people are valued, and that the organisation is doing what it can to create an atmosphere inclusive to all. They can however uncover some unpleasant truths and as a manager you should be prepared to hear that as well as be accountable to respond and correct any issues.

Here are some tips and guidance on conducting stay interviews.

What’s important to the inidvidual

As well as uncovering valuable insights into what the business is or isn’t doing, stay interviews are also a great opportunity to understand the motivations and goals of individual employees. This is not just about what they are currently doing in their work but what their plans are for the future. What is it that they like most about what they do, both inside and outside of work? This gives you an idea of how the business can support them to achieve future goals and aspirations.

This isn’t a performance review

Don’t use this as an opportunity to conduct a performance review. In fact, don’t mention the employee’s performance at all during the stay interview. Your aim is to build trust and transparency in these interactions and turning it into a performance conversation could discourage an employee from providing open and honest feedback.

Target employees showing signs they are going to resign

Easier said than done but we’re all familiar with those signs or predictors that an employee may be about to resign. The key is to react as quickly as possible, particularly if they are a high performing member of the team. Stay interviews give you the opportunity to try to understand why they are considering a move. It could be related to an issue that you can resolve. This of course works best if your business already has a programme in place to recognise and nurture your high potentials – the employees you are actively working to grow and develop within the business.

Make them short and frequent

Instead of scheduling hour long annual stay interviews, they work best when they are regular and short. Try asking one or two strategic questions at regular intervals as well as giving the employee the space to respond with any issues or questions they may have. This also means you’ll be gathering useful insights and are also more likely to see those tell-tale signs that someone may be considering a career change. It’s important to get your timing right, don’t schedule an interaction when a member of your team is facing a major deadline or in the middle of a considerable project – this isn’t conducive to accurate and genuine responses. Also, think about the location of the interview, a catch up outside of the office over a coffee may be more effective.

Make it part of the employee experience

Right from the beginning of a person’s employment with your business, make it clear that they are valued and appreciated and that regular one-on-ones with their manager will take place right from onboarding. The interview format may be more effective than generic employee satisfaction surveys because it’s a two-way conversation. In saying that, some employees may feel uncomfortable being totally open in this setup so offering other more anonymous methods of submitting feedback is also important.

If you are interested in recovering talent before they make the decision to leave your business, then perhaps you should start investing time and energy into stay interviews.

Need help?

If you need advice and guidance on building your employee experience, get in touch with us today.

The Decipher Team

To stay on top of current recruitment trends and technologies follow Decipher Group on LinkedIn.

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