Today’s tight labour market is causing major issues for all companies. It’s tough to recruit good people and you just know your best employees are ripe to be shoulder tapped by others, usually promising them the world in their desperation to fill a position.
So how much effort are you putting into ensuring that your people stay? That they’re not tempted by those more lucrative offers? Putting more effort into your employees now will mean less effort and time required in trying to recruit and train someone new later.
Having a great culture and a successful company definitely helps you to retain your people. Beyond that, one of the best ways to increase your staff retention is to do stay interviews. These are different to the regular one-on-one conversations you should be having, which are also very valuable. Stay interviews go beyond the day-to-day overview discussions. They’re more tactical, giving you insights into how your employee ticks, what they want from their job, what they value about working with you, what frustrates them, and what could lead to them deciding to move on. As they say, forewarned is forearmed — if you can see their pain points before they become too much for the employee to tolerate any more, you can do something about fixing them.
For example, in a stay interview you might find out “Sarah” loves the company and the people she works with — she’s exceptional at her job but she’s bored out of her brain. If you can find a new role or responsibility to stimulate her, you have a good chance of keeping her in the company, with her continuing to add amazing value.
Or you might find that “Josh” really thrives in his long-time role, but he’s finding the workplace culture has changed since he started and he’s not as excited about coming into work every day. In fact, he’s started to take his lunchbreaks away from the staffroom to get some distance and you’ll never find him at Friday drinks anymore. This is your opportunity to look at the culture of the business and decide whether it’s the one you want or if it’s deviated in recent years and you need to address it to keep people like Josh.
Likewise, most people leave a job because of their boss. Feeling undervalued, not being given credit for ideas, not enjoying their communication style, feeling resentful about their workload — I’m sure we’ve all been there. Once you’re aware of any niggles, you can decide whether to address it by helping the manager with some leadership training (I can recommend ours, of course!) or seeing if the employee might be a better fit in someone else’s team.
Stay interviews are a proactive approach to getting insights into how your employees feel — before they resign. A good stay interview can be powerful for staff retention, your culture and your company success.
There is no right or wrong way to do a stay interview. I’d suggest you do at least one annually and potentially every six months. Stay interviews are usually done by a manager but having them carried out by a ‘skip manager’ (the manager’s manager) or independent HR person can be beneficial if it’s their direct boss who is a problem. (Immediate managers can also take feedback defensively, rather than being open to looking at changing something.)
A good stay interview will take at least half an hour. Do it offsite, over a coffee if you can. It should be a casual — yet purposeful — incredibly powerful chat.
You might be thinking, “How do I find the time to do this?” Trust me, the ROI on your time will be massive compared to the pain of losing valued team members. Done well, you can avoid the unnecessary hassle and pain of trying to find new people (if you can find anyone good!) as well as the months it takes a replacement to get up to speed with their job. As a manager, doing stay interviews is one of the smartest things you can do to keep your finger on the pulse and really check in with your team.
Below is a selection of questions for you to consider when carrying out a stay interview. Pick and choose those that resonate with you or that will get the best responses and insights from a particular employee.
- Why do you choose to stay with our company?
- What do you look forward to the most working here and in your job?
- What does a satisfying day in your job look like?
- What do you think about on your way to work?
- What do you think about on your way home from work?
- What do you dread the most in your job and working here?
- What happens that makes you frustrated or causes you anxiety?
- What is most important to you when determining if a day was a success or not?
- What would you miss the most if you left your position for a new role?
- On a scale of 1-10, how closely does this job resemble your dream job?
- How much do you look forward to Fridays? And how much do you dread Mondays?
- Do you feel good about the impact of your work?
- How can we better support you?
- What might make you consider leaving our company?
- When was the last time you thought about leaving our company?
- What is your dream job?
- Are we helping you to be effective in your current role?
- Which of your talents are you not utilising in your current role?
- What keeps you working here?
- If you could change anything about your role, what would you change?
- What would make your job even more satisfying?
- Is there anything we could do to make your job easier?
- Is there anything or anybody making you feel disrespected at work?
- What do you think of our work life balance and how could it improve? And any thoughts on how we could be more flexible to help you manage home and work life?
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond your responsibilities?
- Do any of your co-workers stand out to you as super-important members of your team? And why?
- Do you regard your peers as friends, acquaintances, or just co-workers? So how connected to your teammates do you feel?
- On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate our teamwork? And what suggestions do you have on how to improve our teamwork?
- Do you feel you get the recognition you deserve for a job well done?
- How do you prefer to receive recognition when you do a good job: a quiet pat on the back, a public shout-out, a kind email or text from your manager or something else?
- Do you have suggestions on we could improve employee engagement and our culture?
- What would you recommend we could do to improve morale?
- Do you feel your ideas and suggestions are given consideration?
- Do you feel you are getting clear goals?
- What would you like to learn about?
- What opportunities for self-improvement would you like to have that go beyond your current role?
- What kind of feedback about your performance or types of recognition would you like that you are not receiving currently? And do you receive feedback regularly enough?
- Is the coaching you receive effective?
- Do you feel your work contributions are valued? If no, why not?
- What motivates (and/or demotivates) you?
- What potential changes here might make you start looking for another job
- When was the last time you thought about leaving us? What was the situation that made you feel that way?
- What part of your job would you eliminate if you could?
- What does your dream job look like?
- What did you love about your last job / position that you no longer have?
- As your manager, what can I do more of and less of? How can I be a more effective manager?
- Thinking of the best manager you have ever worked for, what did you appreciate most about them?
- How well do you feel you work under your current manager? How could that improve?
- Do you receive transparent communication from leadership here?
- Do you feel that your feedback to leadership is well received?
- What are your short and long term goals? What can we do to help here?
- If you won Lotto and no longer needed to work here, what would you miss the most?
- If you won Lotto and no longer needed to work, what would you do?
- What are you passionate about?
- Do you see yourself working here a year from now? In two years?
- Do you see our company as a part of your longer term plans? And what future do you envision working with us?
- What growth opportunities are of most interest to you?
- What do you want to be doing that you are not doing?
- Have you been provided with a clear growth path?
- Are we helping you build a successful career? How can we improve here?
- Have you been provided with a clear growth path?
- Are we helping you have a fulfilling life? How can we improve here?
- What do you need that would make a difference to you achieving your goals
- How did you find our chat today?
- What question do you wish I had of asked you that I didn’t?
- In closing, anything else you think we should be doing that we are not doing?
Good luck with implementing stay interviews in your business — let me know how you get on!