Why You Should Conduct Retention Interviews

(By Dan Simmons)

Time and again, we’ve discussed the fact that money has little to do with whether or not people stay at their current employer or leave for “greener pastures,” and now another study has shown this.

That study, Talent 2020 by Deloitte Consulting, was based on a poll of 560 people who recently changed their job.  According to the study, 42% of poll participants indicated that what prompted them to leave was the opportunity to use and develop more of their skills.

In addition, 27% pointed to a lack of career progress in their current job, and 21% indicated that lack of a challenge was the reason they sought a new position elsewhere.

Clearly, money was left in the dust as a reason these 560 people decided to leave their current employer.  So . . . how do you stop your top employees from doing the same thing?

Now that the end of 2012 is here, this is an opportune time to sit down with your top performers and have a conversation with them.  (Not as a group, but individually.)

Is this conversation part of an annual review?  No.  Is it an evaluation of their contributions and the value that they bring to the company?  Not really.  Instead, it’s what you might call a “retention interview.”  After all, if you’ll go to the trouble of conducting an interview to get the right person on your team, then you should conduct an interview to keep the right person on your team.

Look at it this way—the cost of sitting down and having a conversation – retention interviews – is far less than the cost of having to replace one of your top employees.

That begs this question: is a “retention interview” the same as a job interview?  Yes, in the sense that the goal is to find out important information that will help the company enhance its personnel and become more productive in the future.

What questions should you ask during this “retention interview”?  Well, before firing questions, the first thing you should do is thank the employee for their efforts, since this is a person whose services you’d like to retain.  Then you can ask questions designed to help the company provide the best employment experience possible.

However, be certain to hit the following three key areas:
  1. Recognition for goals accomplished and projects completed
  2. Workplace flexibility, including telecommuting and scheduling
  3. The opportunity for more training

As you can see, none of these areas involves money or compensation.  You don’t necessarily have to discuss compensation to keep your best employees . . . and when it comes to your best employees, it’s far better to conduct a “retention interview” than an “exit interview.”

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