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‘Stay’ Interviews: The Next Strategy to Combat the Great Resignation?

‘Stay’ Interviews: The Next Strategy to Combat the Great Resignation?
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2022 by Marcy Klipfel
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Although the U.S. economy continues to add jobs month over month to get closer to pre-pandemic employment levels, employers still can’t seem to outrun the Great Resignation. 

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About 4 million U.S. workers quit their job every month—which has been the case since April 2021—creating a sort of Groundhog Day reality for HR professionals that we can’t seem to escape, despite our best efforts. 

While employees are leaving their employers—or leaving the workforce entirely—for dozens of different reasons, most of what I’ve learned about the causes of the Great Resignation keeps leading me back to one thing: the color green.  

Most employees swept up by the Great Resignation are seeking more money, more growth, and more appreciation. 

Green represents the three main reasons employees seem to be swayed from their jobs, even ones who aren’t entirely unhappy where they are:  

  • Obviously, it’s the color of money, and higher salaries consistently rank at the top of job seekers’ wish lists, particularly now—after two years of simply feeling blessed to have a job at all, some have begun to resent what they perceive as pandemic-related salary stagnation.  
  • Also, from a natural/psychological perspective, green is the color that represents growth and change. After living through a historic health and economic crisis, many employees are looking to press the restart button on life again—their careers included, especially in the areas of career development, training, and other opportunities for growth. 
  • And of course, green is the color of envy. I was intrigued by a recent Wall Street Journal article featuring interviews with several recent job changers; the majority said they began exploring new employment options after feeling jealous when others in their network announced new jobs.   

Managers can reap the benefits of 1:1 sessions by reframing them as “stay interviews.” 

Ironically enough, at Businessolver, green represents a positive employee sentiment.  

At least once per month, we ask all Solvers to take their employee “pulse;” it’s a brief questionnaire that examines the depth of employees’ connection to our organizational purpose, their day-to-day work priorities, individual leader, support network among their colleagues, and satisfaction/productivity working remotely.  

The last question asks Solvers to rate their pulse by color and green is the second-highest rating. Employees that choose this color are stating they have a strong affinity to Businessolver and high engagement in their work.  

These monthly pulse checks are shared with Solver leaders as a resource to foster and maintain transparent connection and communication with their reports during 1:1 meetings—or any other time.  

Retaining valuable employees starts with asking sincere satisfaction questions. 

Recently, I was introduced to the concept of “stay interviews” as a strategy to keep the Great Resignation wave away from your shore. Generally, the idea is exactly what it sounds like: meeting with employees to discuss how to keep them in their job, rather than an exit interview about why they’re leaving.  

Common stay interview questions include: 

  • Do you feel fully utilized in your current role? 
  • Do you see a future for yourself here?  
  • What can we do to support you better? 
  • What would make your job more satisfying?  

One of my first thoughts after considering these questions was, “That’s what 1:1s are for!” Or, rather, that’s what they should address. Of course, 1:1 times often are dominated by the here and now; they tend to cover the status of current projects, near-term deliverables, and urgent/time-sensitive personal and professional concerns—rightly so. However, we also encourage our Solver leaders to address employee pulse during 1:1s as well, along the lines of what might generally be considered a “stay interview.”  

Reframing 1:1s to include forward-thinking stay strategies, in addition to current needs and project status, could be an effective tool to eliminate engagement red flags before employees start seeing green—the money, growth, and envy that may lead them to see a new job as “greener pastures.”