Employee retention is a growing concern for employers. As a result, residency interviews are becoming a popular tool for reducing turnover.
But do they work?
Unfortunately, companies don’t always get interviews right. In order to use this retention tool, it is important to avoid some common mistakes.
Let HR conduct the interview
These one-on-ones give managers a chance to find out what employees like and don’t like about their jobs. Uncovering potential reasons for leaving gives managers time to address concerns before an employee decides the grass is greener at another company.
First, never delegate residency interviews to HR. The meeting should be a face-to-face conversation between an employee and their line manager, said Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust, a Denver-based human resources consulting firm and author of Dare in the workplace: A guide to the new way we work (Advantage Media Group, 2021).
“Residence interviews foster a closer relationship between employers and employees,” she said. “Whether you’re a CEO, VP, director or manager, you need to understand what the internal customer – the employee – wants and why they choose to continue working for you.”
Not be transparent
Be open with employees about the purpose of the interview.
“It’s important to be honest and open with employees,” said John Morgan, President of LHH, a talent acquisition and recruitment company headquartered in Maitland, Fla. employees will be much more willing to share their feedback.”
Lily Valentin, head of US operations at Adzuna, a global job search engine based in Indianapolis, agreed: “Before the interview, share some of the questions you’re dying to answer so employees have time to think and are prepared,” said you.
Do it through the company
Managers shouldn’t look at interviews as the solution to the Great Resignation. Its main purpose is to foster trust and engagement and to support employees in their roles and in their careers.
“When an employee feels their residency interview is solely for the purpose of retaining talent [to] benefit the company, then the intent of the interview is lost,” said Amy Mosher, chief people officer at the Charlotte, NC-based human capital management platform isolved of the employees staying at that organization, which is what he will do next wants, as well as potential threats that could cause the employee to leave the company.”
Mosher added that the name “residence interview” can sometimes imply an employer-focused interview. “At isolved, we call them ‘engagement check-ins’ to emphasize the goal of building a trusting relationship between managers and employees,” she said.
Treat the conversation like an interrogation
Another mistake was conducting the meeting like an interrogation, Quinn Votaw said.
“Managers might ask questions like, ‘Why did you choose to work for me? Why would you leave? You would never leave, would you?’ ” She said. “You don’t want to interrogate the people you work with every day. Make sure you are in a good place to receive [their] information empathic.”
Also, make sure the interview doesn’t feel like an exit interview, where the questions usually lean in the negative and cover reasons a person might leave their role, Mosher said. The exchange should include positive topics such as career goals and development opportunities.
Valentin recommended avoiding the conference room for this meeting, which can feel formal or stuffy. “With the goal of having an honest conversation, managers get more open feedback when the conversation happens over coffee or a walk,” she said.
Waiting too late
It’s tempting for managers to wait until they feel an employee is considering leaving or appears disinterested in holding appraisal interviews. By then, it might be too late, Morgan said.
“The whole point of a residency interview is to reach the employee before they’ve made the decision to leave,” he said. “Don’t wait for input from employees. The earlier and more often you start the conversation, the better.”
Avoiding the interview
Interviewing for a stay can feel like opening a can of worms, sending managers down a rabbit hole of what-ifs and worries, and making employees think about leaving. Quinn Votaw said it was natural for managers to want to avoid interviews for these reasons.
“The manager might think, ‘If I start asking an employee why they work for me, I’ll know if they’re happy, angry, sad or glad to be here. I may have to do something and if I can no they will be more upset and because we are in the Great Resignation and there are 10.5 million job openings and only 7.5 million people I have to do their job so I just go to avoid this entirely,'” she said.
But if you don’t know what you don’t know, the risk of an employee leaving the company increases.
“Residence interviews are a repeat of heated conversations,” said Quinn Votaw. “You’re going to learn things that you have to react to, but that’s the point. Ignoring potential problems will not make them go away.”
Stephanie Vozza is a freelance writer based in Franklin, Tennessee.