Stay interviews work, but is only one piece of the retention puzzle, experts say

This is the weekly Careers newsletter.

Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

Stay interviews, or the practice of having structured conversions with employees to better understand their needs, concerns and motivations, have been growing in popularity as a way to retain staff.

“Imagine if you could change your retention by 50 per cent or even 20 per cent. A lot of times that comes down to the conversation you have in advance, before employees are thinking about quitting,” said Michael French, national director at human resources consulting firm Robert Half Canada.

Mr. French said employees are often looking for things that don’t cost companies a lot of money, such as a title change, a move to another team or more flexibility in the hours they work.

Since 2020, IT consulting company Avanade has conducted more than 10,000 live interviews globally.

Andrea Richardson, director of business HR for Avanade Canada, said the company started conducting stay interviews during a high period of growth, when they also saw a high rate of employee turnover.

“When you look around at how much attrition costs — when you think about things like recruiting and training and the intellectual property that we lose when people leave — we were making a business case for some type of retention program,” Ms. Richardson said.

From this, the company began having “Stay Orange Conversations,” which were interviews where employees could connect with various leaders and share the highs and lows of their work experience.

With so many potential employees to choose from, the company created its own predictive analytics tool to help them determine those who are potentially at risk of leaving based on factors such as tenure and time of year.

They also look at areas of the business that are facing more turnover than usual, and high-potential employees who may exit for other opportunities.

Once the company had these conversations, they made sure to take action where they could, which included helping employees change what projects they were working on and aligning their work with their passions and where they wanted to grow.

“I think it makes a big difference in attrition, but also just how engaged and cared for our employees feel,” Ms. Richardson said.

Avanade data shows employees who had a predicted higher risk of leaving who had a stay interview with a leader had a one in five chance of leaving. If they didn’t, the risk rose to one in four.

However, Ms. Richardson said that these interviews were “only one data point.”

The company still conducts engagement surveys and exit interviews to get a better picture of the full employee experience.

Data from Robert Half shows that many companies are still conducting exit interviews, with 67 per cent of hiring managers reporting that their company is conducting exit interviews in an effort to improve retention.

What I’m reading around the web

  • Coming as a surprise to analysts who had forecasted a net gain in jobs in Canada, the economy lost a net 17,300 jobs in May, entirely in full-time work. This is the first time the unemployment rate has risen in nine months and is the first sign of “employment softness” after the Bank of Canada hiked interest rates.
  • According to a recent Clean Energy Canada report, Canada will gain 700,000 more energy jobs by 2050 if Canada, and the world, reach net zero. Alberta will see the fastest growth with significantly more clean energy jobs being added than traditional fossil fuel jobs lost.
  • This Harvard Business Review article suggests that maximum effort doesn’t always equal maximum results, especially as many workers are facing burnout. Employees can’t continue operating at 100 per cent, and here’s why consistently giving 85 per cent is a better tactic that leads to higher performing teams.
  • More wildlife is being displaced as Canada faces more frequent and catastrophic fires — especially those that are slower, or very young or old, and less able to react to the fast-moving flames, according to the Toronto Star article.

Have feedback for this newsletter? You can send us a note here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top