Why are retention interviews necessary?

Last year I wrote about how exit interviews are a retention tool. It is a way of gathering information on why employees are leaving (once the employee has resigned), and thus, help you improve on your leadership, culture, and so on.

However, you do not necessarily need to wait until an employee hands in their resignation to interview them. There might be little that you can do to reverse their decision at that point. Checking in on employees may help employers identify those high performers who may be toying with the idea of leaving the company. Even if they are not thinking of leaving the company, retention interviews are another tool that help us understand why people are still working for us – what motivates them to work for us and not for someone else.

Retention interviews will also help you show employees that you recognise and appreciate their feedback and loyalty towards the company. It shows them that you are open and ready to make changes and improve, to their satisfaction.

What works best

There are a few tips that I recommend, if a company decides to carry out such retention interviews:

  • Do not schedule them close to, or together with, performance reviews. The objectives of both meetings are totally different. Retention interviews is about caring more than just their performance.
  • Inform employees why you are carrying out the interviews and what their objective is.
  • Plan the meetings ahead of time and give your employees time to give the meeting some thought.
  • Hold meetings in a comfortable setting with the aim of creating a space whereby the employee can express how s/he is really feeling.
  • Hold meetings at random with your employees. This way no one will feel intimidated by the meeting. This is, of course, unless you are specifically concerned that an employee may be deciding to leave the company. In this case, the retention interview is a priority.
  • Hold meetings on an annual basis. They should not be done one-off. The organisation, labour market and people are dynamic. The feedback you receive today may be very different to that you receive tomorrow.

Questions to ask

During the retention interviews, ask questions which are related to:

  • their career development and how much they feel they can advance within the company
  • how they feel about the leadership of the company and its future
  • whether the company recognises achievements
  • the company’s flexibility towards a work/life balance
  • what they would change about their role and company.

At SurgeAdvisory, we help our clients carry out exit and retention interviews and provide them monthly or quarterly feedback on reasons why people are leaving or why people are staying. We would be happy to discuss how we can assist you in understanding what staff retention tools suit your current organisation’s needs.

About the author

Maria Bartolo Zahra is Managing Director and HR Advisor at SurgeAdvisory. She has over fifteen years of human resources and business advisory experience.