Exit Interviews Are So Last Year

Your best employee walks into your office and tells you she's quitting. Once that oh-crap feeling dissipates, you attempt to find out why she's leaving. Low salary? Lack of advancement opportunities? She secretly hates your guts?

At some point over the next two weeks, HR may perform an exit interview with her to get more information. Good, right? If your best employee is going to leave, you might as well get some useful feedback from her before she moves on to greener pastures. If you're lucky, maybe you'll glean some insightful information about how to attract and retain other employees.

Unfortunately, you--and HR--waited way too long to have that interview.

Let me put it even more plainly: Why. On. Earth. Would. You. Wait. To. Interview. Your. Best. Employees. Until. After. They. Put. In. Their. Resignations?

One alternative to conducting exit interviews--which are like, SO last year, by the way--is to perform stay interviews. Conducting stay interviews with your best employees--ideally while they are still engaged--will help you determine what they value and what keeps them with the company.

Stay interviews aren't complicated

Identify current employees with the skills, attitudes, and performance levels that represent the kind of talent the company values--and find out why they stay and what might prompt them to leave. Use stay interviews to learn about positive aspects of the work, environment, benefits, relationships, and other factors that keep great employees happy, productive, and loyal.

These stay interviews not only provide valuable feedback to the company, they also demonstrate that the organization cares about the employee. Those discussions could also uncover small issues that can be addressed before they fester and escalate to larger, deal-breaking issues that result in unwanted turnover of key personnel.

Despite their obvious benefit, only 22% of high-performance organizations currently do stay interviews, despite a significant correlation with market performance. This is a next practice by definition--a practice that can have a positive impact on the bottom line, but one that you and your competitors may not be doing yet, at least in a systematic fashion.

For more ideas, check out the six talent practices that boost employee engagement and market performance.
Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.