Losing good employees is expensive, and with a tight labor market, turnover is a fact of life for employers. CEOs and those in charge of employee retention are looking at a number of strategies to keeping workers in their chairs, but which one works best for you depends on a number of factors.
HR consulting pro Wes Pruett focuses on the “stay interview” in his conference for Profedondemand, “Retention Interview Kit: A How-To Guide to Stay Interviews.” The idea behind this interview tactic is to dig deep into the reason why an employee is likely to stay—or leave—and then develop an effective retention plan for that employee.
Who’s at Risk? New Hires and Highly-Skilled Workers
Turns out you might want to conduct that stay interview sooner rather than later. In a survey of 1,000 workers, 31 percent quit a new job within the first six months – and more than 16 percent quit within the first week, HR software solutions firm BambooHR reported. Why? Part of the reason, Bamboo said, is that those employees are often still figuring out what they want to do with their lives, but many report that job descriptions in an interview don’t wind up being reality.
Giving new hires a good sense of what to expect and an opportunity to hit the ground running appears to be key. New employees “want to learn how to do their job and the inner workings of your company,” Bamboo’s report said. “In short, they want to start doing meaningful work and contribute fast.”
You’ll find more long-term, higher-skilled workers have a similar need to make meaningful use of their talents. Risk consultants Willis Tower Watson, in a report titled “Seven Things to Know About Employee Retention Risks,” found that the workers most likely to leave were those who are good at their jobs and have a highly desirable skill set. Such employees include nurses, engineers, sales pros, and IT pros who feel blocked in their careers, are worried about their personal finances, and are more likely to embrace change.
“More than one-quarter of employees fall into a high-retention-risk category, and many of them are top performers or high potentials and possess the critical skills necessary for hard-to-fill positions,” Willis Towers Watson summarized.
One Way to Keep Workers? Let Them Stay Home
One category of employee more likely to stick around is the remote worker. In the report “State of Remote Work 2017,” video conferencing facilitator Owl Labs found that:
- Remote workers are hired faster (a 4.5-week process rather than a seven-week process).
- Companies that support remote work have a 25-percent lower employee turnover rate than those that don’t allow the practice (9 percent vs. 12.25 percent).
Further, Owl Labs said, remote workers are better invested in their jobs and report a better work-life balance. The challenge? Keeping employees in the loop socially. Nearly half of remote workers reported that they missed having conversations at work, and 40 percent report missing work celebrations like anniversaries and birthdays.
Keeping the Workers You Want: The ‘Stay Interview’
While exit interviews are conducted when an employee leaves in an effort to learn what went wrong, the stay interview is held in order to learn what can keep them at work in the first place.
“The results of a stay interview give you knowledge about what the organization can improve and how you can retain your remaining, valued employees – now,” asserts HR consultant The Balance. The stay interview:
- Builds trust with employees
- Provides two-way communication
- Gives insight into employees’ world views
- Identifies areas that need improvement
To make the interview work, The Balance said, you must first create an environment based on trust and communication.
“Your organization may need to use anonymous employee satisfaction surveys until you have had the opportunity to improve the factors that would currently make stay interviews uncomfortable for employees,” the site said. “Additionally, if your organization’s climate lacks trust, you may want to participate in team building and trust building activities first.”
Building a retention program is not easy, stated retention consultant Bonusly – but a successful effort has tangible rewards.
“Even the best leaders have a hard time keeping top talent,” the company said in an article titled “20 Surprising Employee Retention Statistics You Need to Know. “Although it may seem impossible to perfect a retention strategy in the face of these odds, you can often make a dramatic improvement with a few simple steps.”
Pruett, the AudioSolutionz speaker, said that his conference will give participants a toolkit to help them conduct stay interviews, including how to set the stage, what types of questions to ask, and how to create an individualized retention plan for each employee. That way, he said, companies can approach the issue of employee retention holistically rather than just throwing money at a problem.