Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Do You Get Good Employees to Stay?

In a completely scientific non-random sampling, 2 of my 3 sisters have gotten new jobs in the past two weeks. In both cases, they were frustrated with their roles at their employers and were able to move on to jobs/environments that were a better fit.

Many organizations had to cut back during the recession leaving employees with more work and fewer resources. That makes the timing ripe for turnover in those organizations now that the economy is improving.

Some turnover is inevitable and there are times when good people leave an organization for reasons beyond your control. Those are the times to break out the cake and balloons and wish them well with a nice send off. But what about that star employee that you should have been able to keep? Wouldn’t you rather know what he or she has to say about the organization and what you could do to keep him around?

There’s a not so new concept called a “stay interview” that is a great tool to use. The idea is simple; you interview your good employees and ask what it would take to get them to stay, before they give their notice. This is also a great time to let them know they are appreciated and that you value the work that they do.

As our economy continues to pick back up, we’ll have more opportunities for our organizations to grow, but that also means more opportunities for our employees to leave. That’s why this is an ideal time to ask them how they view their future with us.

Curious about my third sister? She was recently promoted. I didn’t ask if her boss did a “stay interview”, but it’s entirely possible. In any case, she’s going to stay.


  1. I wish I would have been given an opportunity for an exit interview, let alone a stay interview. These are good suggestions for managers! thanks.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Thanks for your post. It's hard for managers to remember to spend time with their good employees when they have too many other irons in the fire. I left an employer and found out 10 years later they were still referring to me as "the one who got away." Wish I had known that while I was there!