The Power Of Retention Interviews

Jasmine Brennan-Rincon

Jasmine Brennan-Rincon

Human Resources Professional

The unifying factor amongst all profitable organizations is the fact that sustainability is contingent upon successful delivery of a product and/or solution that addresses the end users' need. With that being said, the majority of an organization's efforts center around efficiency, effectiveness, and identifying ways to better serve customers leading to higher revenue generation.

One of the factors that typically falls by the wayside is a focus on human capital management. Frankly, there are times in which senior leaders may not see the value in focusing on employees outside of providing specific trainings that produce results geared towards advancement and hiring top talent. Human Resources Professionals and management know all too well that there are so many more pieces to the puzzle when it comes to maintaining a productive workforce.

In order to gain insight and elicit feedback regarding the workplace from a firsthand perspective, many organizations are going directly to the source. Typically, when an employee resigns or is terminated the last step before ending the employment relationship is an exit interview. This gives the individual an opportunity to provide feedback about the company, why he or she is leaving, and candidly provide insight into his or her experience as an employee. Of course, in some cases exit interviews are an opportunity for disgruntled people to hop onto their ‘soap box' and complain, in other cases some very valuable insight can be elicited. Rather than waiting until an employee is leaving to obtain information, consider taking a more proactive approach and have conversations about the company while the employee is still onboard. There are several positive outcomes from taking this approach, as well as a few considerations to be aware of pertaining to retention interviews.

Identify a key objective

Think about what your organization would benefit most from understanding, and develop a series of questions that will elicit information to help provide insight. Many organizations endeavor to use retention interviews as a means to collect as much information as possible, however this typically is problematic and does not succinctly address any one concern. On the contrary, you may find yourself with a great deal of information that addresses several challenges and positive components of the employee experience but a lack of information that is specific enough to move the needle forward. Think about typical themes that come out of exit interviews, such as concerns about flexible schedules, compensation, upward mobility or the organizational culture, and tailor the questions accordingly. Then, consider which of these themes the company and its leadership are willing to take action toward addressing; from there, develop questions that will probe a bit more and provide actionable information.

Strategically select the participants

The information that you receive will depend on the participants selected to participate in retention interviews. Consider the demographic landscape of your employee population, such as age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Ensure that you are also gaining insight from employees across functional areas, levels and tenure. Gauging the experiences of a group of employees that adequately represents your workforce will provide more reliable data. Next, be sure to solicit feedback from individuals that are both thriving in their careers as well as those that seem somewhat disengaged; this will also provide you with the full spectrum of the employee experience. Participation in a retention interview should be voluntary, which typically prevents employees who are uncomfortable or have neutral perspectives from feeling obligated to join.

Deliver a concise message

When requesting participation from employees in retention interviews, be sure to provide clear information regarding the purpose of the interview. Reinforce the fact that the perspectives that they share will be utilized to address certain things within the organization that may need to be changed. Explicitly mention the fact that all feedback will be maintained with the highest sense of anonymity and that candor is encouraged. Mention that a group of employees were selected and that all feedback will be utilized to make the company a better place to work. If there are any prescribed next steps, such as a companywide survey or report that will be publicized, be sure to provide that information as well.

Take action

Employees that participate in retention interviews are allowing themselves to be vulnerable; despite the fact that you will explicitly mention that all feedback is anonymous, in many cases an employee may feel that sharing negative feedback with their employer is risky. Maintain morale and reinforce your organization's commitment to its people by taking action and delivering on whatever next steps you shared during the interview process. Be mindful of the fact that employees will share their experience as a retention interview participant with their colleagues; therefore several members of your workforce will be anticipating subsequent action. Engage senior leadership and share relevant feedback to gain support and funding, if necessary, to move forward with addressing the area(s) of improvement.

About The Author

Jasmine Brennan-Rincon

Jasmine Brennan-Rincon

Jasmine Brennan- Rincon is a Human Resources Professional with a diverse realm of expertise. Throughout her career, she has led people and projects in support of strategic organizational initiatives. Her areas of focus include talent acquisition, employee relations, employment branding, diversity & inclusion, employee engagement and performance management. Jasmine helps clients navigate career paths, build retention strategies and overcome performance management challenges. She offers a wide range of programs and services including resume writing, career development, personal branding, coaching and employee engagement initiatives.


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