Hi! And how are you all? Firstly, a belated Happy Chinese New to all and I do hope that the new year will bring all of you good health, great wealth and lots of happiness both from a family and career perspective. I had a two week break during Chinese new year. This was great for me as it was a time to be with the family, to reflect on my career, update my knowledge and keep up with current training concepts and methodologies.
This month I wish to share with you the concept of ‘stay’ interviews. A common practice in most organizations, as part of the employee retention plan, is to conduct exit interviews with the objective of finding out the reasons for employees leaving. Once these factors are known, then action is taken to address these issues and hopefully reduce employee turnover (especially the high performers). But the main weakness in exit interviews from an Asian perspective is that most employees, being polite, do not reveal the ‘real’ reasons for leaving. They also do not want to leave on an antagonistic note and therefore give reasons like “I want to join my uncle in his business”, “I want to help my brother in law to start his new company” etc (all of which are usually not true they may actually be joining a competitor). Hence the main objective of exit interviews is usually not achieved.
My view is that it would be better to conduct ‘stay’ interviews with especially high performers so as to pre-empt their leaving. When high performers hand in their letter of resignation, it is always difficult to persuade them at this late stage to stay either through monetary means or by addressing their grievances. Their attitude will be, “Does it have to be my resignation that makes you take notice of my unhappiness or my concerns”. The point is, wouldn’t it be more beneficial for organizations to conduct stay interviews on a periodical basis so that these grievances and unhappiness can be discussed and addressed early.
During ‘stay’ interviews ask employees questions like, "What will it take for you to continue working for us? What circumstances might entice you to leave?". “What can we do to support you in your career development?” “What are the push factors in the organization?” Listen carefully to the responses, even if you are not happy with what you hear. Importantly, you will have to take action after the interview to address the concerns of the employee. Obviously, not all issues can be fully overcome, for example, if the employee is demanding a pay rise that is beyond the salary scales of your organization. However if the main issues are tackled pre-emptively then the chances of employees staying will be better. And as we are aware, employee retention (high performers) is critical to the success of any organization.
‘Stay’ interviews also has the positive effect of ensuring that the people you interview feel valued and important, which often translates to stronger loyalty and commitment to the organization. In other words, just by conducting the interview you have given recognition to the high performer and this would be a good way to ensure his/her retention. A word of caution though and that is, stay interviews can also be a double edged weapon. If they are conducted, and no action is taken, then the high performers will regard that as a sign of disrespect and provide them with the impetus to leave earlier.
In conclusion, ‘stay’ interviews constitute a very important means for organizations to solicit valuable feedback from employees (especially high performers) about the working environment and conditions prevailing in the organization. If this is done effectively, and action taken, it would surely contribute positively to the organizational retention process. In the current volatile business environment, this could very well be the tipping point towards ensuring the success or failure of your organization.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. I really do hope you have enjoyed reading the above. Until my next newsletter, take care and I do hope you will all have a great month ahead.