Innovative “stay conversations” can motivate your best workers not to go.
Turnover costs U.S. businesses $600 billion last year, and this doesn’t account for the knowledge, experience, and ideas employees take with them when they leave. Increasingly, organizations are using “stay conversations” to keep people from going. A one-on-one talk between a boss and an individual team member, the stay conversation is designed to help the supervisor determine what’s important to their employee in the workplace, as well as his or her interests and aspirations. By getting this information directly from the employee, the manager can more accurately target efforts to keep the person engaged. Increasingly, employers see it as a fairly simple solution to a complex problem.
The stay conversation doesn’t have to be long; 10 or 15 minutes can do the trick. However, there should be several of them over time, and there should be follow-up on actions and next steps identified at each. The purpose should be to build an ongoing relationship and dialogue that has purpose and meaning.
A few key components of successful stay conversations include:
- Identify key workers to talk to and when these conversations will happen. Schedule these in advance for a day and time that is convenient for both parties.
- Communicate the meeting’s purpose. This will prevent any fears or anxiety on the employee’s part, and it sends the message that you value the person and are interested in his or her input. It also encourages the person to put some thought into what they want from their work.
- Open the conversation by restating its purpose and encouraging the employee to relax and speak freely. Then kick off the talk on a positive note, such as, “Lee, you’re an important part of our team here, and we can always count on you to embrace change. You did a great job leading that training program on the new cybersecurity policies last week. What could we do different or better?” Use open-ended questions to encourage dialogue.
- Ask questions that help you understand what’s important to the employee and what changes or opportunities can enhance his or her work experience and increase job satisfaction. Don’t pre-judge or make assumptions; be open and curious.
- Plan for follow-up. Discuss some next steps. These should involve action on both people’s part. For instance, the employee can research continuing education or training programs he or she would like to pursue, and the manager can study some areas where the worker can take on a new or increased role.
- Close the conversation with specific plans. Schedule the next meeting right away. Put it on the calendar; and follow-up with an email that summarizes the discussion and what is to be done before the next get-together.