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It’s no secret that it’s a tight market right now for qualified candidates. And for employers, this means that if your top performers are looking to leave, chances are good they’ll have an easy time finding a new position. Back-filling key positions can be time consuming, frustrating, and costly, so keeping key employees from leaving in the first place is crucial.

You shouldn’t wait for your top employees to leave before you check in with them! Twitter_logo_blue

But with competitors enticing employees away with higher salaries, more vacation days, and extra perks, how do you remain competitive? The answer is to ask employees how to get them to stay, before they start planning their exit.

Most people managers are familiar with exit interviews and the insight a departing employee can provide, but what if you could prevent those employees from leaving in the first place? By the time you’re sitting in an exit interview with a high performer, it’s usually too late to keep them on board. They’ve already made the decision to jump ship, and the best you can do is pick their brain on what you can do better next time. Though exit interviews are certainly better than nothing, an employee with one foot out the door is less invested in providing useful feedback than someone who’s still on your payroll.

Bottom line: you shouldn’t wait for your top employees to leave before you check in with them!

This is where the stay interview comes in – it’s the secret weapon in your employee retention toolbox. Stay interviews present a great opportunity to check in one on one with current employees to ask them questions and solicit in-the-moment feedback on their employee experience. By asking for input proactively, you get a temperature check on why employees continue to work for you, where they want to go with your organization, and why they might leave. Stay interviews are also an effective way to establish and nurture trust and communication, create a “real-time” two-way dialogue, promote a culture of asking for feedback, and bring an immediate solutions focus to any issues the employee might bring up.

Convinced stay interviews are worth your time, but not sure how to get the conversation rolling? Here are 11 questions to incorporate:

  1. What are your favourite things about working here?
  2. What is one thing you wish you could change about working here?
  3. What strengths or interests do you feel aren’t being used in your current position?
  4. What would you like to learn during your time here?
  5. How do you like to receive feedback?
  6. How do you like to be appreciated and recognized?
  7. How could we be supporting you to better balance work and home life?
  8. As your manager, how can I best support you?
  9. Have you ever thought about leaving? If yes, what caused you to consider leaving, and why did you stay?
  10. As an organization, what should we be doing more of/less of?
  11. Are you happy working here? If not, what could we be doing to change that?

By asking these questions of employees, and truly listening to the responses, you’re getting valuable, specific, actionable feedback from the front lines, without employees having to fill out a survey.

Your Engaged HR Assignment:

Are you like most employers, conducting exit interviews when an employee resigns, but neglecting to check in with current employees? It’s time to get proactive, and make stay interviews a priority – all it will cost you is a few minutes with your employees, and the benefits can be huge.

Use the questions above as a guide to get the dialogue started, and most importantly, commit to putting any feedback received from employees during stay interviews into timely, tangible action whenever possible!

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