Dear Workforce What Should We Seek to Learn From ‘Stay’ Interviews?

By Staff Report

Sep. 7, 2011

Dear Lonely in HR:

Stay interviews strengthen bonds with your best people—and uncover reasons why they remain with the organization. They are potentially low-cost, high-yield activities when management is striving for greater levels of engagement and productivity. And that is precisely how these interviews should be presented to your management team: “If we won’t make time to have a 40-minute chat with our best people, how and when will we make time to replace them?”

The top things that create “stickiness” between individual employees and their organizations (and the attendant discretionary effort) include:

• Having meaningful work and the freedom to pursue it

• Working in a positive, challenging and high-performance culture

• Receiving ample opportunity to learn and grow (preparing to leave, if necessary)

Aside from not getting enough of any of the above, the chief cause employees leave is working for an unskilled, immature, or self-absorbed leader.

Conducted by a trained interviewer with position authority, stay interviews should focus on the above factors. Some organizations conduct them coincidentally with the regular performance review, but we don’t recommend that approach. Performance reviews often carry too much baggage. Oftentimes stay interviews are conducted on a skip-level basis as a means of adding credibility and objectivity to the process.

It is important to realize what a stay interview is—and what it is not. It is not a negotiating session or a platform to rationalize the status quo. Be plain about this from the start. Rather, the interview is an opportunity to listen carefully to the very people who are deemed to be your company’s most valuable asset. The interview should deal with questions like:

• Why do you stay with this organization, team, leader?

• What do you like best/least about your job?

• If something has caused you to consider leaving in the last six months, what was it? Has it been resolved?

• What would you like more/less of? What one thing would you like to see changed?

• What’s your dream job, and are you making satisfactory progress to achieve it?

• What can I/we do to support that effort?

• Do you have any similarly talented friends or acquaintances who should be working here alongside you?

• Is there one person in the organization who has really been helpful to you of late (so we can thank them appropriately)?

Not unlike the financial audits that companies do periodically, stay interviews with your best people, combined with engagement surveys of the entire workforce, inexpensively provide “actionable intelligence” and build goodwill.

SOURCE: Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden, Contented Cows, Jacksonville, Florida

LEARN MORE: On the other hand, exit interviews help pinpoint what your company does well and where it needs shoring up.

Workforce Management Online, February 2011Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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