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  • Tara Rethore

Time to Change the Tune?

“I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello.” ~ The Beatles

Hearing Hello, Goodbye, the classic tune by the Beatles, on the radio this week seemed rather apropos. Many companies are still navigating a revolving door of talent, even as economic worries rise, and inflation persists. Job openings remain high in this extended period of low unemployment, and in spite of a recent uptick in layoffs.


This results in a lot of goodbyes while managers long to say hello.


The executives I advise are keenly aware of the significant organizational impact caused by the Great Reshuffle and disengaged or burned-out staff. At the same time, they’re grappling with creating the culture and work habits needed to retain talent and achieve their objectives. Many routinely conduct exit interviews to identify insights about their work environment and talent practices that may help them to attract new talent – or at least, replace those who have departed.


Yet learning what's needed to improve when the employee already has one foot out the door is far too late – particularly when talent is scarce.


Make changes before it’s too late.


Retaining qualified talent is always preferable to hiring new. Rather than waiting for employees to leave, get serious and proactive about the stay interview.


The stay interview is not a new concept. Like the exit interview, it’s an excellent way to take the pulse of individuals or teams to identify insights. Yet unlike exit interviews, stay interviews are future focused. They prompt feed forward suggestions and the opportunity to make changes before it’s too late.


Elevate the stay interview.


In my experience, the stay interview is precipitated when an employee has signaled their likely departure or received an offer from another company. Rather than a proactive pulse check, the interview often becomes a last-ditch plea for the employee to stay.

“So just stay stay stay / Stay with me” ~Justin Bieber and The Kid LAROI

Instead, elevate the stay interview. Make it a routine, normal part of engaging employees and enhancing performance. You may already use annual engagement and satisfaction surveys to take the organizational pulse – fabulous! A stay interview is a one-on-one conversation that allows you to go deeper. To demonstrate commitment to people. To enhance genuine connection. These are the things that build trust and respect.


Encourage staff to stay long before they opt to leave.


The best stay interviews benefit both the interviewer and the interviewee. They involve managers and leaders throughout the organization. This is not just an HR activity or a company-wide email sharing a link. Done well, the stay interview is an opportunity to mentor staff, strengthen relationships, and make changes that improve individual and team performance. Encourage staff to stay long before they opt to leave.


Enhance the impact of stay interviews:

  • Initiate interviews at regular intervals throughout the year. “One and done” won’t do it. Instead, establish a regular cadence throughout the year – perhaps 2-3 times – to take the pulse. When might this activity fit best within the rhythm of your business?

  • Involve different people. This doesn’t have to be a standard activity required of all managers or staff. Be thoughtful and selective. Who will benefit most from interviewing staff? Which staff may welcome the chance to be heard? Which teams are experiencing the most change in work?

  • Guide managers to craft impactful conversations. Offer a framework to describe the flow of the conversation and build rapport. Suggest questions to elicit meaningful dialogue and thoughtful reflection. How might you gain perspective? What’s needed to shape an idea or bring it to life?

  • Take action on suggestions or ideas. This offers tangible proof that you value the activity and the time each staff member contributes to improved performance. Trust grows when you do the things you say you’ll do. What will you do as a result of the conversation?

“Let's just… / Stay here forever” ~Jewel

Great Resignation, Great Reshuffle, quiet quitting: whatever you call it, the organizational impact of constant staff churn is significant and disruptive. Leaders prevent a revolving door of talent through proactive, regular conversations about the employee experience. Together, they identify what makes it easier to do what needs to be done in the most effective way possible.


Stay interviews prompt feed forward suggestions to improve “what is”, while building “what could be”.


It’s time to change the tune.