In the battle for top talent, employers can sometimes lose sight of the bigger war: retention. Between job hopping and the gig economy, it’s increasingly difficult to hold on to those superstar employees that you spent so much time and money attracting in the first place. As Forbes put it in a recent article on retention, “an over-emphasis on talent attraction and hiring without equal emphasis on development and retention will create problems for companies in the new year.”
Employers need a lot of tools in their arsenal to improve their retention rate, but one of the simplest things to implement is also one of the most effective: stay interviews.
In essence, a stay interview is a periodic one-on-one meeting with your high-performing (therefore, at-risk-of-leaving) employees. The goal: identify the reasons they’re currently still in your employ – as well as any triggers that might cause them to move on.
This would be the forum to ask your overachievers questions like, “What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?” and “What talents are not being used in your current role?” and then use that info wisely.
Of course, in theory, every employer should be using stay interviews to help retain and engage their staff – especially when you consider how cost-effective they are and how much turnover they can prevent. But like many initiatives at a busy small business, it can easily get shelved as a “nice to have.”
However, if your company has one (or all) of the following, stay interviews become much more crucial:
If you have: high-performing employees
This more or less goes without staying – and ideally, it would pertain to virtually every company. It should be easy to identify your star performers (and if not, here are some tips on how to spot them). These are the people you want to make up the majority of your company – so picking their brains about what makes you attractive as a long-term employer is very valuable information.
If you have: a higher-than-average turnover rate
Employers often have trouble seeing workplace problems until it’s too late. If you are already seeing a surplus of employees moving on, it’s a good time to touch base with the ones that haven’t left yet. Giving them the opportunity to discuss what’s keeping them from leaving (and, on the reverse, what might lead them to follow their former coworkers out) will help to unearth – and address – any bigger issues at the office.
If you have: a need for technology skills (or other in-demand skill sets)
If your company has employees with in-demand specialty skills, especially tech-related ones, then they’re at a higher risk for being poached. Engineers, programmers, and software developers are some of the hottest careers out there, with firms aggressively competing to hire new grads and experienced professionals alike. Because of this, many companies, especially those with business models heavily reliant on technology, work obsessively to retain this type of talent. Stay interviews can ensure that these types of workers are happy where they are, and that they know their company values their skills.
If you have: company restructuring
Restructuring often includes the elimination of certain roles, which can lead to unhappy employees and a tense atmosphere. It is during this time of change that employers need the remaining employees the most; however, this is also the time when many employees start to jump ship. A good stay interview strategy can help mitigate a tense atmosphere and any further upsets, and ensure employees feel connected to the company and mandate.
If you have: active competition
If you’re keeping up to date on your competition’s recruiting strategies, it shouldn’t be hard to see when they’re making a push to attract more top talent – your top talent, that is. When your competition is actively recruiting, it’s a good time to check in with your most indispensable players to get a feel for what might draw them to another company – and what you can do to prevent that.
Stay interviews are a great addition to any talent strategy, but in some cases, it’s a must-have if an organization wants to retain it’s top-performing employees.