Why Not Ask Superstars Why They Stay?

Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace found only 30% of the US workforce describes themselves as engaged. It is obvious that disengaged employees are vulnerable to being recruited by your competition or leaving you for more money, benefits, or more interesting work. Most organizations do exit interviews when employees resign. Not that’s a bad idea—I just think you learn a lot more if you ask your good employees why they stay with you. By the time an employee resigns, it is too late to fix whatever issues they had and we are pretty sure that employees who are leaving aren’t really interested in helping your organization improve—they just want to move on, get their paid accrued vacation and their 401(k) money rolled over and start working at their new job!

But, it you talk to your superstar employees and ask them why they have chosen to stay with your particular organization, you will learn what they value. It is easy to do this. This is a great opportunity to start “re-recruiting” your best employees. People love to be interviewed so you can do “stay interviews” or you can put groups together and do focus groups and get good information that way as well.

Here are some possible questions to ask in interviews or in focus groups:
1. What do you like best about working here?
2. What do you find frustrating in your job or the organization? How would you fix that?
3. What is most challenging in your current job?
4. If you were CEO, what would be the one thing you would change?
5. What do you suggest we could do differently to improve communication?
6. What could we do to acknowledge your contributions? Tell me about the last time you were recognized for good performance.
7. What do you need to succeed here? What do you need from your manager? What do you need from leadership?
8. Are you doing your best work and if not, what do you need to make that happen?
9. If you could design the perfect next step for your career, what would it be?
10. Is there anything I haven’t asked you that is important for us to know as to why you stay?

Take what you learn from the interviews and focus groups and put strategies together for doing more of what is working! You’ll be amazed at what you learn in these sessions and actions you take should improve your engagement scores and help you retain the people who are making you successful.


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