Jun 21, 2016

A key to achieving success in human capital management is maintaining some control over employee turnover. It’s hard to run a profitable business if your employees are always quitting. Instead of focusing on productivity, turnover forces you to pour money into recruiting, hiring and training rather than actual work.

Many companies rely on exit interviews to understand why employees leave. When people quit, HR sits down with an exiting employee and asks formulaic questions. It works to an extent, but there is a better way: what about , instead of interviewing the employees who are leaving, talking to those who aren’t?

That’s the thinking behind the “stay interview,” a strategy that’s rapidly gaining popularity in HR circles. Why only talk to the quitters when you can learn more from your most valuable people – the loyal employees who want to stick around.

Why use stay interviews?

Exit interviews can only do so much good. After all, if you’re trying to prevent people from leaving, talking to them after they’ve quit isn’t really that productive. That’s why, according to Erin Pappo, client services director at Camden Consulting Group, stay interviews are the next big thing and a great way of improving employee engagement and retention.

Right now, companies are struggling in both areas. Pappo pointed to survey data showing that in the United States, workers have an average job tenure of only 4.6 years, and 45 percent of employers expect their recent college grads to leave within two. Stay interviews are gaining popularity because they’re a great way to address this turnover issue.

Learn the good and the bad

When you talk to your employees about their work experiences, it’s good to examine them from all angles. Don’t just ask why they stay – also probe into what sometimes tempts them to leave, be it money or career growth or whatever else. Get both the positive and negative takes on working for your company.

According to Inc. magazine, it’s often hard to ask your employees about negative stuff because you don’t want to plant ideas in their minds about quitting. Paul Sandusky, vp of talent acquisition at Ceridian, feels that retention is not the HR department’s job. It’s not the manager’s job.  It’s everyone’s job. By learning the good and the bad, it can make a stay interview a valuable resource for increasing employee retention.

What else can you ask?

“What makes you stay here?” and “What tempts you to leave?” are perhaps the two most obvious questions to ask employees in stay interviews, but the possibilities don’t end there. A blog pointed out that when you’re asking employees about their jobs, there are countless angles you can explore:

  • What specific aspects of your job are you passionate about?
  • What did you love about your last job that you don’t have now?
  • What do you think about on your way to work, or your way home?

Personally for me it’s easy to answer why I joined my company. As to why I am still here, the answers aren’t the same. The more angles you explore, the more you learn about people’s work experiences. Don’t be shy – explore all these angles and more. You might be surprised at what you find out.

Retain your top talent through enhanced communication and better talent management. Ceridian’s Dayforce HCM can help you improve work life for everyone in your organization. Visit us at SHRM 2016 – June 19-21, Booth # 2605 or at

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