Stay Interviews Part 1

In an effort to minimize employee turnover, most organizations have historically conducted exit interviews.  Exit surveys can be called the original retention tool. It has always made sense that understanding why employees leave could direct us to retention solutions for those remaining survivors. While these efforts can be useful, they don’t focus on retaining the firm’s talent.  They gather historical data about how the employee perceived and felt about his/her job, future and relationships with peers and the organization’s leaders.

Employers use several types of queries, engagement, opinion surveys, climate surveys and exit surveys to capture employee sentiment. 

Surveys are done in-person, over-the-phone, and with live and recorded voices.

These surveys generate reports; from these reports come scores and rank orders which then become benchmarks.  From benchmarks, we set goals to improve scores on the next survey.

Thus, The primary outcome of all our surveys is that we build employee programs.  For example:

  • To improve employee recognition, we add employee appreciation week, and employee of the month awards and maybe even provide employee of the month parking space.
  • To improve employee communication, we hold quarterly or semi-annual town-hall meetings and write better newsletters.
  • To improve employee career growth, we hold brown-bag lunches and combine them with career fairs.

The problem is that over time, these surveys, as good as they are, morph into redundant administrative processes that fail to lead us to new and better outcomes.  Thus, they become periodic rituals.

While based on logical thinking, Exit interviews and surveys rarely lead to retention or engagement solutions.  The barriers or obstacles from these efforts are:

  1. Leaving employees often Don’t Tell the Truth.
  2. Employee participation is far too low in part because they are often too lengthy. Low Participation
  3. Surveys are designed to accept “better opportunity” as a reason for leaving which fails to trigger any meaningful retention solutions. Surveys Allow Vague Answers
  4. Finally, companies are reluctant to make policy changes based on “autopsies” or comments received from departing employees. Changes Aren’t Made

Many HR professionals have been asked whether improvement resulted in these types of surveys and Only 1% actually made improvements based on survey findings.

When comparing employee surveys to stay interviews, we find the following occurs:

  1. Employee surveys present “average thinking” without learning your top performers needs. Surveys Represent Average Thinking
  2. In a stay interview, the supervisor hears why each employee stays and or considers leaving. Stay Interviews Listen
  3. Surveys usually ask for opinions, but not importance, so we don’t know which items impact engagement and retention. Surveys Ask Opinions, Not Importance
  4. In a stay interview, the individual’s priorities are clearly declared and understood by the employee’s manager or supervisor. Stay Interviews Hear Individual’s Priorities
  5. Results of surveys lead to action plans and with more programs verses better 1:1 supervision. Surveys Don’t Promote Better Supervision
  6. In stay interviews, actions are in the hands of the employee’s supervisor who is responsible for engagement and retention. Stay Interviews Put Onus on Supervisor

However, these tools benefit only the employer while stay interviews benefit both the employer and employee.

Stay interviews do three things that surveys do not. 

  1. They provide real-time information useable today.
  2. They give insights for engaging and retaining individual employees, especially your top performers.
  3. Finally, they put managers/supervisors in the solution seat for developing individual stay plans for these human assets.

We hope you’ve found this introduction of value and will join us for parts two and three on the benefits of Stay Interviews.  In the meantime, for Express Pro Talks, this is Russ Moen