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February 22, 2012

What Would Make You Stay?

Recently in our blogs, we have been discussing the subject of turnover and effective tools to utilize in reducing turnover.  Our blogs have included capturing turnover and other items using HR metrics, effective interviewing skills, and onboarding practices.   During the termination process, something that always puzzled me was why companies went to such great lengths to conduct elaborate exit interviews.  At that point, who cares why the employee is leaving and what really happens with the information once it is gathered?

So when I began reading about stay interviews, I was really intrigued.  The most important and proactive approach to finding out what people want is to ask them while they are still there.  After all, as part of ensuring employees have a positive experience after joining the organization; it is management’s responsibility to check in with employees.  The responses given during an exit interview are sometimes simple fixes that could have been resolved prior to the departure of the employee.  If only we had asked.

However, stay interviews do not come without risk.  Oftentimes there is a gap between what employers believe are the reasons employees stay (mainly compensation) versus why employees do stay.  That is exactly the point.  We as employers cannot solve problems or issues we are unaware of.

Questions asked during a stay interview should focus on trying to find out how you can build a long-term employment relationship with the employee.  The manager should be asking the questions and it can easily be tied into an annual performance evaluation.  Typical questions include:

  • Why do you stay?
  • When you travel to work each day, what things do you look forward to?
  • What can we do to ensure you continue to stay with the company?
  • How can we make your work more satisfying?
  • What are you learning here?  What do you want to learn?
  • Are there specific reasons you can think of that could cause you to leave us?

Companies that have implemented stay interviews have realized decreased turnover by double digit percentage points.  These conversations should occur on an ongoing basis during the employee’s tenure, not during the exit interview.  This needs to be considered a necessary part of your retention strategy.



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