Over the last year, many employees found themselves singing the words to songs like “Take This Job and Shove It” (Johnny Paycheck, 1977) and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” (The Clash, 1981). Unfortunately, all too many employees chose to answer that last one with “Go!”
The Great Resignation
The Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit, started in early 2021 and peaked in November of 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 4.5 million people quit their jobs during that month.
Although the quit rates in December of 2021 were slightly down, it’s not cause for celebration just yet. According to Joblist’s 2022 Trends United States Job Market Report released on January 6, 2022, three out of four full-time employees were planning to quit their job in the next 12 months. In addition, 51% of part-time employees reported that they were planning to quit their jobs in 2022.
If you’re an employer, do these numbers make you nervous?
Reasons for Quitting
Not everyone’s reason for quitting is the same. According to recent research completed by MIT, the top 5 predictors for employees quitting are:
- Toxic company culture
- Job insecurity and reorganization
- High levels of innovation
- Failure to recognize employee performance
- Poor response to COVID-19
Toxic corporate culture was by far the strongest predictor of employee resignation; it was 10 times more important than compensation in predicting turnover. The MIT analysis found that the leading elements contributing to toxic cultures were:
- failure to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion
- workers feeling disrespected
- unethical behavior
Whatever the reason for an employee quitting, finding qualified applicants to replace them is challenging. There’s no question that today’s job market is tough for employers. When an interview is scheduled with a promising applicant, there’s a chance that the applicant may not even show up – a phenomenon known as “ghosting.”
Therefore, as the old military adage goes, your best defense is a good offense.
Conduct Stay Interviews to Retain Employees
Instead of holding your breath or passively waiting to see if your staff are going to quit this year, why not take the offensive position and try to find out? For this, we recommend employers conduct “stay interviews” with their employees as soon as possible.
If your first language isn’t Human Resources, you may wonder what a stay interview is. According to SHRM, stay interviews are interviews conducted by management with current employees to help understand why employees stay with your company and what might cause them to leave.
Managers conduct a conversational style interview which usually lasts less than a half hour, using standard, structured questions. Some sample questions might include:
- What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
- What do you like most or least about working here?
- If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
- What motivates (or demotivates) you?
- As your manager, what can I do more of or less of?
- What might tempt you to leave?
As you close up the interview, summarize what the employee told you and be sure to thank the employee for their time. Say something like, “I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me today. I am committed to doing what I can to make this a great place for you to work.”
Taking Action to Keep Employees
After you’ve completed interviews with all employees, review your results and look for trends. Then, make plans to take action!
A general action plan may address similar requests of many employees. For example, many employees may have stated that they would like it if the business included more company-sponsored charitable giving. Brainstorm ideas you could implement, such as organizing a public space cleanup, assembling care packages, and donating to the United Way or other local causes. You may consider offering employees a paid volunteer day each year where the employee can choose the volunteer activity that is most meaningful to them.
Make specific action plans for individual employees. For instance, Susie may have stated that she is motivated by public recognition of accomplishments. The next time she completes a project, be sure that her coworkers are aware of it and can congratulate her on a job well done.
You might also look for opportunities for certain employees to make lateral career moves, start/continue remote work arrangements, or make schedules more predictable for front-line employees. Furthermore, be sure to respond to employee concerns on potentially difficult topics, such as poor managers or requests for greater benefits and pay increases.
As independent HR consultants, we can conduct stay interviews for your company. You are more likely to obtain honest feedback from employees with the interview is not conducted by their immediate supervisor. Contact us today to schedule stay interviews with your employees. We’d be happy to help!
Overall, your goal after the stay interviews should be to ensure that more of your employees are singing lyrics like “A-a-aye, I’m on vacation every single day ‘cause I love my occupation!” (Dirty Heads, 2017) or “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go!” (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937).