Why do you stay?

Way back in February, I wrote about the “Stay Interview” and I wanted to add a bit more information about that since it seemed to be a particular topic of interest. 

Most of us are quite familiar with the exit interview; however, it seems that the reasons employees stay is not asked nearly as frequently as why employees leave. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. When we do something right, shouldn’t we be curious about what those things are?

Most organizations have some high-performing employees just as they have some that perhaps don’t perform as well as we’d like.  I have often wondered why it is that we focus so much time and energy on those that don’t perform as well as we’d like and seem to overlook giving attention to those who do well.

As a result of this curiosity, I started to ask a few of the better performing employees some questions about their jobs.

  • What is it that you particularly like about the job?
  • What is it that keeps you motivated?
  • How do you feel about being recognized – is it enough?
  • Are there things that you would like to learn (self-improvement, new skills) that we can possibly help you with?
  • If you could change your job in any way, what changes would you make?
  • If you ever hear others complain, what types of things do you hear about? In other words, what could we, as a company improve upon?
  • When you have a really good day at work, what makes it so good?

What I started to learn is that communication really started to open up and new ideas were starting to come forward – even from those that used to complain more frequently than we wanted.

Once you start to pay attention in a positive way, and let your employees know that you do appreciate them, it’s interesting to see how others will improve just for the recognition.

I think that exit interviews do have a place – I know there is a great deal we can learn from them as well – I just think it makes more sense to improve upon what we have when we have it rather than wait until people are leaving.

The other problem with exit interviews (in my opinion) is that employees are not always as open and honest as we might hope because they are on their way out. They don’t care that much anymore; and besides, they won’t even reap the benefits of seeing any changes (if any result) once they are gone.

On the other hand, when employees have an opportunity to be actively involved in changes and can see things improving, feeling they may have played a part in those improvements; doesn’t that just make more sense?

It seems to me that we are constantly looking for ways to engage our employees and motivate them when possibly, it’s as simple as giving them a say in how they perform their duties. Allowing them more opportunities to have input and control their work might be just the ticket.

Be brave – take a chance – ask your employees – “Why do you stay”?


About hrscoops

This entry was posted in Coaching, Communication, Employee Engagement, Employee Turnover, Human Behaviour, Management Coaching, Retention, Stay Interviews, Workplace Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Why do you stay?

  1. Mary Roach says:

    Fabulous point! Once we know what the organization is doing right, it becomes much easier to figure out what areas need to be worked on!

  2. Larry Wenger says:

    “Why do you stay” is a very important question to ask…and we should not wait until someone is leaving to ask it. Let’s build on our strengths in addition to trying to address areas for improvement. I’ve always been highly suspicious about the results from exit interviews because they are even more complicated than most employee surveys. The answers you get will be highly dependent on how the question was worded, who asked the question and the context in which the question was asked. All will strongly influence the outcome. To really get a sense of those things that make the workplace motivating and engaging, managers could not go wrong by following John Maxwell’s advice to leaders; “walk slowly in the halls”.


  3. Amelia Chan says:

    A good way of understanding engagement — employee or organizationally — is simply “having an ear to the ground” of what is really going on. It is so important for managers to be aware of the good and the bad by interacting regularly with all staff members at every level. Being present, listening and communicating actively is the key to understanding your employees and building those relationships.

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