Americans are walking away from their jobs in record numbers as remote work has uncoupled jobs from geography, and droves of employees are re-evaluating the relationships they have with their employers.
To keep workers happy and on the job, more companies are turning to “stay interviews,” one-on-one meetings with top performers to give those key people the chance to talk about what works, and what doesn’t work, about their current jobs.
"This has become an extremely popular topic ... to try and help retain employees as much as possible,” said Robyn Hopper, a human resources knowledge adviser for the Society for Human Resource Management. Managers who conduct stay interviews are coached to ask workers open-ended questions about what they like most about their jobs, what they dislike and under what events or circumstances they might leave.
Scott Bonneau, the vice president of global talent attraction at Indeed.com, said: “Employers, particularly in certain sectors, are seeing people leave at a faster rate. I think stay interviews can be quite effective. ... It promotes and fosters trust and open communication.”
Sometimes workers switch jobs in pursuit of higher salaries, but recruiters say a significant factor is the higher expectations of job candidates today when it comes to feeling seen and supported by their bosses. “People don’t leave companies. People leave managers,” said Dave Carvajal, the CEO of Dave Partners, a tech industry recruiting firm.
Other departures are spurred by chances to have more flexible hours, remote work or professional development opportunities.
While experts say stay interviews can be a valuable tool to retain top employees, there is one big caveat: Bosses have to actually follow through on the feedback they solicit.
"At the end of the day, you can promise the best things in the world, but if you can’t execute and deliver, people will tend to look elsewhere,” said Thomas Wu, who recently took a job as the director of finance at an NFT startup.
Carvajal said small businesses, which struggle to compete with huge companies in salaries and benefits, have more at stake and tend to use processes like stay interviews more frequently.
Bonneau added, however, that workers who want to stay with their current employers should be honest about their perspectives if they are asked to participate in stay interviews.
"If there are things you’ve wanted to get off your chest or things you would really like to see changed ... if your employer is going to the trouble of doing this in good faith, this is your opportunity to say those things,” he said.