In The War On Talent, Use 'Stay Interviews' To Retain Great Employees

Apr 15 2014, 6:35am CDT | by

Here’s a word of advice from Edward Fleischman, the CEO of New York and Boston staffing recruiting firm Execu|Search.

You may not have noticed it yet, but today’s candidate profile is changing. Hiring and job creation is on the upswing, and the unemployment rate has declined. With a major skills gap in the U.S., the pool of available qualified candidates is shrinking. As they say in real estate, it’s “a buyer’s market.”

In the past several years it was much more difficult for job candidates to land interviews. But today, especially for those who are considered “top talent,” it’s not unusual for a candidate to be inundated with multiple offers at once. As a result, job seekers can afford to be more selective and are becoming more comfortable waiting for an offer that meets their specific criteria, or will job hop more readily when another offer comes in.

The shift from employer-driven market to a candidate-driven market has created a war on talent that requires employers to compete more heavily for good candidates than ever before. They also need to be more alert to signs of dissatisfaction or restlessness on the job.

Says Fleischman: “You never want to wait until someone resigns to get feedback on why they have decided to leave for another opportunity.”

Instead, he suggests, consider the new best practice of conducting  “stay interviews” for valued team members while they’re still on the job. What’s a stay interview? It’s an informal review in which the manager and staff member sit down to discuss progress, ideas and the feedback both parties may have for each other. Ideally, the manager will do more listening than talking. Companies that use this process are finding that it helps to reduce turnover by a significant percent.

So here’s how it’s done: When you hire a new employee, set at least 3 dates on the calendar at that moment for 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months from the date they started the job.  Setting up these meetings in advance forces the employee and manager to prepare their feedback for each other and to take the time to sit down, face-to face, to share their input rather than just relying upon informal small talk in passing.  Getting and receiving feedback early and often will allow both the new hire and manager to take corrective action on any issue, large or small, before it’s too late and the employee leaves for another job.

These informal reviews should be candid, which requires the employee and manager to develop a relationship of trust. If an employer wants someone to stay, they must be able to tell the individual respectfully not only what they need to improve and what is required for promotion, but they also need to elicit meaningful feedback from the employee about what they need and value most in order to be able to stay.

The employer may also want to share their goals for the department with the employee and to set individual milestone goals with a reasonable deadline.

If the employer and staff member are able to establish a relationship where both parties understand what’s expected and are able to be candid with each other, both sides will have an easier path to achieving their goals and the company will have a better ability to retain its best talent.

Everyone wins. So for your next set of hires (or even for your existing team members) why not give the “stay interview” idea a try?

What It Takes To Retain Your Top Talent


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