What happens when a person leaves? Do you know it in advance? In a prior blog, I wrote about the often unknown reasons that blindside employers when a rock star quits. Today, let’s look at taking a more proactive approach: checking in on what it’ll take to keep your stars at your organization.
Great people are hard to find. And can be harder to keep. I recently came across a terrific book, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay, by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. I highly recommend it.
As a leadership and culture coach, I very often work through personnel matters. So when I witnessed the clear and concise thinking from Kaye and Jordan-Evans, I knew I had to share it.
Why Employees Stay
Kaye and Jordan-Evans surveyed over 17,000 employees to learn what conditions will keep an employee with an organization. They call these conditions “stay factors”. Note that these are neither industry-specific nor role-specific, they are universal.
1. Exciting work and challenge
2. Career growth, learning, and development
3. Working with great people
4. Fair pay
5. Supportive management/good boss
6. Being recognized, valued, and respected
8. Meaningful work and making a difference
9. Pride in the organization, its mission, and its product
10. Great work environment and culture
Interesting tidbit: 91 percent of survey respondents listed at least one of the first two items among the top reasons they stay. I love that challenge and learning is at the top. This is one reason I harp on Individual Development Plans to our clients!
How To Do A Stay Interview
How to do a Stay Interview? You simply ask the employee. Some leaders fear that discussing this topic will open a proverbial can of worms and get the employee thinking about leaving. I disagree heartily. The employee is already thinking of leaving at times, possibly on hard days, when they feel overwhelmed or discouraged, if they’re experiencing tremendous stress in their personal lives. It’s likely only a fantasy about leaving, but why not simply communicate directly about it? It’s refreshing, builds trust, and shows you care.
There’s no ideal time to do a stay interview. The goal is to do it before an employee has one foot out the door. You can do it during a development conversation, when checking in on their development plan, you can do it at year end or at the new year, any time is fine. If you don’t know what their answers might be to the below questions, then it’s time to do now!
Recommended “Stay Interview” Questions From Kaye and Jordan-Evans:
· What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
· What makes you hit the snooze button?
· If you were to win the lottery and resign, what would you miss the most?
· What one thing that if changed in your current role, would make you consider moving on?
· If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about this department?
· If you had to go back to a position in your past and stay for an extended period of time, which one would it be and why?
· What makes for a great day?
· What can we do to make your job more satisfying?
· What can we do to support your career goals?
· Do you get enough recognition?
· What will keep you here? What might entice you away?
· What do you want to learn this year? How might you learn it?
Be sure to ask “anything else I might have missed?” and use effective listening (ask “what specifically?” and the other questions in the linked blog). And be careful with your responses: don’t dismiss their ideas/input/answers, be curious as to what it’s like to be them. You don’t know, so be an anthropologist studying a fascinating creature. If done this way the interview will deepen connection, loyalty, trust, and ultimately, boost retention.
What You Can Do Now
1. Implement Individual Development Plans – people need to know they are growing and learning. This helps us feel achievement and empowerment at work—which is key. Keep it simple: have the employee and their leader develop it together. If you make it too complex no one will do it!
2. Do regular Employee Engagement surveys so you know how people are feeling.
3. Create a Cultural GAME (Growth, Appreciation, Measurement, Engagement) Plan based on the results from your survey in #2 above. Here’s an infographic.
4. Give Frequent Bi-Directional Feedback so everyone is connected and clear on what’s working and what they’d like to see more of. Here’s an infographic.
· Stay interviews help you understand how your team members are feeling about their work—it’s essential to stop guessing and start knowing what will keep your stars happy
· Do stay interviews across your organization as needed, during development conversations is a good time
Put the recommended programs in place to maintain and grow the good feelings in your organization. Happy = will stay!