Bev Kaye on Talent Retention During the Great Resignation

CEO, bestselling author, thought leader, and industry legend Bev Kaye shares insights about how high-performance organizations can retain more talent and enhance the overall employee experience. HINT: It's not bean bag chairs and a stocked refrigerator.

Bev spoke at the i4cp 2022 Next Practices Now Conference, joined onstage by i4cp vice president of research Lorrie Lykins. The two discussed retaining your best people.

Watch the video above, or read the transcript below:

Bev, there's a word on the minds of many business leaders, and I think this word sends shivers down their spines right now, at least for some of them, which is the word retention. What's your advice to managers who are concerned about losing their best people these days?

I would say managers, “It's about time you got concerned and you should be concerned and you should have been concerned, all these years.” It's, you know, it's interesting that the headline is the great resignation and it's like thank you up there, because every single one of my books, I think is about retention in some way, and the way to get around that great resignation is for every manager to—I hate to use the word but love show it to your people and I think they are more concerned now than ever, I have never gotten so many invitations to talk about this.

But, but to do it in a in a teeny period of time, so, while they're saying help our managers they're saying, can you do everything in an hour or half an hour and that should do it and it doesn't quite do it.

You know I call it a flyover. But at least it's on everybody's radar screen.

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Has your perspective on retention changed in the last year or the last two years?

You know what's interesting is no it hasn't you know, the biggest seller of my books, has always been Love Them or Lose Them that just came out in its sixth edition. And it's interesting the big change in the book and that was a wake up call for me was my publisher said show me how everything you said about retention is connected to inclusion and belonging.

And I thought gee I never thought about that I'm not a diversity consultant, and as I look through those glasses and wondered what is it that makes people feel they belong. It’s all around you know what a manager does to help that person feel included and it's also around the individual and the individual can't say you're in charge of my engagement.

And by inclusion, the individual has to ask for what they want also and I'm not sure we're doing enough of saying to the individual speak up. They are speaking up more than ever, but I'm not sure still their requests are being heard.

So piggybacking on that, one of your recommendations on attracting and retaining employees has been to hire for fit. How do managers and companies need to think differently in light of well-being, resilience, and other pandemic-era factors?

I think hire for fit. A manager has to think about fit now and fit for the future. Because what I know is that every new recruit is thinking of five things that will really tell that recruit how long they'll stay and it is about fit and number one, will you use all my skills.

Not just the ones that fit this particular next job, but I mean the wealth of experience I bring. That's number one.

Number two, they're saying, will you give me ongoing feedback. Not just once a year, but I want to know all the time how i'm doing how to improve how to make me help me fit better.

Number three, they're saying to ensure my fit. Will you feed me information about how the organization is changing growing not growing I don't want to read about it in the newspaper. And that has everything you do is fit.

Fourthly, it will you show me that there are multiple places for me to fit in your organization, not just one or two.

And then, lastly, to keep me quote unquote fit, will you ensure my ongoing learning will you ensure that I will be able to move anywhere after you. And anywhere within this organization, so you know it's interesting I never thought about fit in those five ways now you gave me an idea for another article.

You’re an advocate of stay interviews, which is something our research still considers a next practice – it’s correlated with market performances but few companies use them. How do you do stay interviews well?

You know, the idea of the stay interview, and my biggest sadness, is that I never trademarked those words because Sharon and I are in love with them. The very first chapter is ask and what we learned is that managers ask what can I do to keep you at the exit interview.

And then it is much too late, usually the question, what can I do to keep you has to be asked you know, over and over and over in a variety of ways. And the answer has to be double clicked on, if you will, and has to be drill down deeper because employees know in their heart of hearts why they stay and when that reason is being eroded. And so we need to ask it often and we need to take in what they're saying and what I found is in stay interviews.

The reason managers don't ask is they're afraid the answer will be something like that other job or more money and what they say to me is. If they're going to say that other job or more money and I can't deliver, why would I open that in the first place, so no, thank you, I don't want to ask that question.

And we say, if you ask it, and the answer is that you can't deliver tell the truth, I can't deliver what else and I’ve said in all of my talks if you ask what else four times and you don't get something you can do something about send me hate email.

I’ve never gotten hate email and I’ve spoken to a lot of people, so I think it's critical it's so basic and I think now managers are asking are using stay interviews, more than ever before.

How do you reinvigorate an employee who has lost their motivation?

You know I I hate them using this word so much, but you show them you love them. And don't use that word if that's not comfortable you know I think we have to show people that we get them that they are not like everybody else.

We want to get to know them better so if somebody has lost their motivation, I might ask a question like I love this question when was the last time you said I love this work.

That you said it or thought it or felt it what were you doing who were you with what were you thinking, what was the issue we're working on. And you know, sometimes when I’m live in front of an audience and I asked it have a huge audience, I can look at their eyes and I know who has to go really far back and who felt it yesterday. So it is the question tell me what you love about the work and tell me what you don't love you know, the other day I stepped into my own little office and asked the two people there what they grumble about. And what do I ask you to do that makes you stay?

And, not that I could fix it, but maybe we can play with it. Questions like that are motivating and are reinvigorating and they're not rocket science and I am married to a rocket scientist. He always has care, you say it's not brain surgery… but it is the simple questions, and it is the power of asking the second question, so when they answer don't move to question number two drill down deeper on what they just said.

I really like that I think that's apt advice for managers and coworkers… as well as my friend who really struggles on the dating scene to always ask some follow up questions.

And husbands and wives, yeah.

Well, thank you, Bev, I'm looking forward to having you at the Conference in March, where you will be joined on stage by Lorrie Lykins, our VP of research, and I look forward to having the two of you dive into this really critical topic of talent retention in more detail.