Casual, regular one-on-one meetings help managers and employees develop healthy working relationships.
HR departments find that “stay interviews” – those conducted with current employees to gauge the gratification they see in their positions – can be the perfect antidote to exit interviews.
Given the surge in job-hopping and this highly competitive job market environment, companies say that stay interviews are helping to reduce turnover while increasing production and satisfaction among workers.
Best practices have come to incorporate light “stay questions” into their regular one-on-one meetings. The result is happier employees who are eager to come or log in to work and contribute.
Managers, too, are becoming more effective because they know what employees care about personally and professionally and what really motivates someone to remain with the company.
Discussions such as these can lead to exciting new assignments, new learning paths, or just improved relationships with employees and their direct managers, which has a real impact on retention.
Formal sit-downs can come off as rigid and detached. Instead, create moments for employees to voice their feelings to their managers, helping them feel valued within the organization.
Doing this can diffuse the employee’s thoughts that “If I leave today, no one would care” and get everyone working together again. Exit interviews are more for the employer, but stay interviews benefit both sides.
Probably anything is better than an exit interview that produces not much more than canned responses intended not to “burn bridges” and often offers little to improve company culture.
Using Stay Interviews Through 60- and 90-Day Mark
Maritza Riquelmy-Romero, VP of Human Resources at Richman Property Services, said her company has been conducting stay interviews for about three years, mostly via email, due to the pandemic.
“We try to send them out monthly, to correspond with our monthly new associate orientations,” she said. “Once a recruit is on board, our goal is to send them out between their 60- and 90-day mark. After that, the philosophy with stay interviews is to get feedback from associates at the six-month point and annually.”
Riquelmy-Romero said response rates via the email stay interview vary, “and we’ve found that survey response rates aren’t really an indication of positive or negative associate sentiment. For example, our maintenance teams are always out in the field, and we sometimes have to remind them to read their emails right away.”
She said that turnover in the multifamily housing industry has always been high, “so we want to make sure that we are asking the right questions so that when an associate does decide to leave Richman, we understand why. This helps us to identify potential areas of improvement and take the appropriate actions.
“Maybe there is an issue we can address that allows us to retain that associate. But at a minimum, it allows us to respond accordingly if it is HR-related. Also, the feedback gives our regional managers the opportunity to take a pointed look at their communities and possibly provide feedback to the community manager.”
Her sense is that stay interviews will soon be conducted in person as the COVID-19 situation allows.
Richman Property Services uses a performance management system where it does evaluations and one-on-one meetings, and it plans to attach its stay interviews to that platform.
Create Comfort and No Fear of Retaliation
Stacey Berk, Founder & Managing Consultant, Expand HR Consulting, Rockville, Md., tells the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) that most employees are eager to share their feedback and want to see positive changes in certain policies and protocols, greater flexibility with their schedule, and of course, compensation and benefits.
“The key with stay interviews, regardless of how they are carried out, is for HR and managers to ensure that employees can share their thoughts comfortably without fear of retaliation.”
Tips on Conducting Stay Interviews
Managers can be trained on the importance of understanding why employees stay and what might cause them to leave.
One company provides its managers with materials on what is expected from the meetings and prompts them on talking points. For example:
• What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
• What do you like most or least about working here?
• What keeps you working here?
• If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
• What would make your job more satisfying?
• How do you like to be recognized?
• What talents are not being used in your current role?
Managers can then use these starting points to go in and make the discussion their own. Know that these meetings are not intended just to get answers; be about the manager, pay, or performance; or involve training or coaching.
One trickle-down effect is even more frequent “How are you doing?” conversations among departments.
Grace Hill’s Kingsley Employee Engagement Program (KEEP) is a great way to gather critical feedback and gauge employee sentiment, plus it gives companies a benchmark for how stay interviews might improve their employees’ work satisfaction levels.