Retaining talent in 2021-2022

Q:  I am a business owner and I am nervous about this “Great Resignation” that I am reading about.  I feel like I pay employees competitively and offer a menu of good benefits options.  I don’t have a whole lot more left in my bank account to keep employees working for my company.  I am sure that they would find gainful employment somewhere else.  But what can I do? December and January are our “busy season” so please don’t say time off.

A:  A lot of our clients are asking the same question.  This pandemic has pushed many employees to re-think their careers.  If they are close to retirement, some are retiring earlier than planned.  If they have to deal with ornery customers, some are opting for a career change.  If their employer is not offering flexibility, they are searching for more flexible options.  Some employees are leaving their roles and starting their own businesses.

We are recommending stay interviews to many of our clients.  Many employers will conduct exit interviews after an employee has given their notice.  An employee will often share valuable information during the exit interview.  However, it’s too late.  The employee often has accepted a new role.

Here are some guidelines for a stay interview which might help you better understand what is working and what is not working.

First, you want your employees to understand the purpose.  The messaging should be “You are important to this business and I want your input on what this makes a great place to work, but also how to make it an even better place to work.”

Some sample questions to consider:

  1. What do we do well as your employer?
  2. What can we do differently as your employer?
  3. If you could change one thing about your job or the company, what would it be?
  4. Do we do enough to recognize your efforts?  What can we do differently in terms of recognition?
  5. What motivates you?  And what de-motivates you?
  6. If you were to consider another employment opportunity, what would tempt you to leave our company?

You will learn more about what your employees think about their role, their supervisor and the organization.  You may even consider developing a plan to improve your company, from an employee’s perspective.  There is also value in simply asking your employees if they are ok and for their input.  In reality, stay interviews are a good practice, even when retaining employees is not a challenge.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.

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