Last year was marked by a worldwide trend known as the Great Resignation. At first, it started slowly - a resignation in an organization and a couple more in another one. Simply put, there was nothing to raise the alarm. But then, the situation escalated and moved from slow to a rapid pace, taking over the whole globe.
By the end of the year, more than 4 million employees had quit their jobs in pursuit for better opportunities. And that left a big vacuum in organizations. Plus, it negatively affected the economy. Due to this 'infectious' situation businesses had to deal with, 2021 made HR take the exit interviews more seriously.
Of course, these discussions are nothing new. Trying to change employees' minds is a trend that has been around ever since companies started 'stealing' employees from one another. For many years now, organizations have tried to convince people to reconsider their resignations. And, more frequently than not, these discussions ended with a salary counteroffer. However, in 2021 HR realized that employees aborting their ship was not necessarily money-related. Therefore, they had to change their approach and understand the reasons behind these decisions.
Unfortunately, as time showed, these interviews were a little too late in most cases. Thus, a new approach had to be taken into account. So, companies that realized how complex the situation is didn't wait for the exit interview to address their questions. These organizations started a stay interview strategy.
But what exactly is this plan?
Well, basically, a stay interview is the exact opposite of the exit one. Instead of asking a person why they are leaving, companies started asking employees why they are staying. Instead of asking people why they are unhappy with their jobs, they started asking them what part of their current situation brings them joy. In other words, stay interviews focus on the positive aspects rather than the negative ones. Positive interviews are a way to ensure your access to a piece of vital information - what keeps your employees happy and engaged.
"Everyone says people are over surveyed, but they are not when it comes to this topic. People want to have their opinions heard."
- Debbie Lovich, Managing Director & Senior Partner in the Boston Consulting Group
Unfortunately, many leaders fail to understand that stay interviews can't be done by HR. They don't realize that these interviews can be handled solely by themselves. They don't understand that employees refuse to talk with HR about their thoughts and feelings.
In other words, these leaders don’t realize that employees are willing to share their opinions. But they only want to speak with the person in charge and not another employee. Furthermore, they want to do it in a one-to-one environment and not in front of the whole team. And that is why many managers consider the ‘stay interview’ approach a waste of time. Yet, it's not. It is a truly effective way to see the greater picture and healthily grow the company.
Therefore, we want to ask you, the leader reading this article, to accept that business models are changing. We want to ask you to understand that these changes come from within the organization itself. Finally, we want to ask you to accept that the number one trigger for this change is the company's team and not other external factors.
So as the modern leader you are, we hope you open your eyes and see the reality - stay interviews are only effective if handled as private conversations and not group meetings. And they are only effective if they are managed by you, the ship’s captain.
This being said, we want to tell you that reaching out to your people is not a difficult task. Asking them if they are happy with their role can take only a couple of seconds a week of both your time. Yes, some situations may require further longer discussions. Yet, it's worth it since the key to solving any employee situation is to really know them and their problems. Because only by doing so can you keep your team members loyal and productive.
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