Stay Interviews Are a Powerful Tool to Reduce Turnover and Increase Trust
Valerie is currently the CEO and owner of Valerie Martinelli Consulting, LLC. in which she offers Life, Leadership, and Career coaching for women as well as various Management and Human Resource consulting services such as program development, management, and evaluation, human resource audits, and employee handbook and other policy developments.
In our current climate of high turnover and resignations, HR departments may find value in conducting stay interviews. Stay interviews are conversations with employees, particularly high-performing employees, with the objective and goal of ascertaining and understanding what they like about their role and what they would like to change. Stay interviews are an opportunity to uncover what motivates employees and build trust with them as managers. Stay interviews can provide beneficial feedback that can help reduce turnover and provide insights into what can make employees grow and learn within the organization.
The Right Way to Conduct a Stay Interview…vs. The Wrong Way
Stay interviews should be informal. Stay interviews don’t have to be conducted as interviews at all. When managers conduct a one-on-one with their employees, they should incorporate stay interview questions into that process. This can lead to employees taking on intriguing new assignments or projects and feeling challenged in their roles. This can further lead to growth and advancement opportunities.
Stay interviews do not and should not be a formal process because that makes it awkward, rigid, and detached. Stay interviews are meant to elicit feedback and to do so, the employee must feel comfortable. This is about managers taking the time to sit down and listen to their employees to understand what their values and priorities are for their careers. This demonstrates a commitment to the employee and acting on their needs. Stay interviews can open healthy lines of discussion and build trust and loyalty. This trust and loyalty help employees to feel heard and see changes in specific policies and protocols.
Stay Interviews and The Great Resignation
The hard truth is that stay interviews can be the best antidote to high turnover, which possibly includes The Great Resignation. Employees are leaving their jobs in droves because they do not trust their managers; no one is listening to them or their wants or needs. Employee retention is more manageable than recruitment of new candidates. It also saves the organization money in the long run because it will ease turnover and decrease recruitment and hiring costs if done correctly.
Stay interviews can help ease turnover because it demonstrates a commitment to the employee and their development. The thing about high turnover is that it also makes current employees more stressed- and more likely to quit. So, it is essential to have a process in place where you check in with them to see how they are doing and inquire what they like about working for the organization. Ask them what they look forward to when they come to work each day. Is there someone that they look forward to working with? Is there something that they look forward to working on? Asking probing questions and then listening can be beneficial to reducing turnover because your employee will give you valuable information and insights that you will not be able to learn elsewhere.
When managers conduct a one-on-one with their employees, they should incorporate stay interview questions into that process.
Part of the key to reducing turnover is protecting your workforce. It is easy to become stressed and only think about covering for the staff members who have just quit. Unfortunately, when this happens, we are not thinking about the existing ones – or taking the time to listen to them. And that is a crucial time to listen to them. Did someone quit because of pay? Typically, more employees leave because of their managers than pay. So, did they ask for a raise, and did it go unheard? Likely, it was not actually the salary but not being heard or appreciated that made them quit. So, if you are not listening to your employees – especially amid high turnover- then it could already be too late. Also, conducting stay interviews is a trust-building activity. By taking the time to build trust between managers and staff, it could help to keep a worker from quitting, which could then help to keep others from doing the same.
Organizations must shift their time, attention, and resources to employee retention. Direct your managers to be sure that they are conducting regular one-on-one with their staff and help them understand what questions to ask. Also, help your managers by asking them if they would like help with something else to devote time to this new area. Remember, devoting time to your employees means devoting less time to something else. So, it will be important not to burn out managers, either.
Stay Interviews and Leadership
Don’t get me wrong; this is not meant to be a band-aid, either. We are currently seeing high turnover due to poor leadership as well. When employees are quitting because their organization is reporting record profits and they do not receive a bonus or the requested salary increase, it demonstrates a problem with leadership. Stay interviews must be directed downwards. If your senior leadership does not believe in listening to employees – or care about them at all, this process may not work in your organization because something else is broken. Something much more significant, such as leadership that is breeding toxicity.
Leadership is a significant component of stay interviews because it takes a strong leader to want to listen to and understand the feedback from their employees. However, it also takes a strong leader to run a successful organization with employees that thrive. Stay interviews can help make that happen.