Article Date: 10/1/2011

staffing solutions
staffing solutions

The Stay Interview

Consider this system to prevent the departure of valued employees.

Bob Levoy, O.D.

Exit interviews tell you why staff members are leaving, but rarely in time to prevent their departure. Stay interviews are just the opposite. They're conducted to understand what keeps valued employees on the job. They're all about the work, the environment and relationships that appeal to and motivate employees.

Stay interviews can be crucial to your practice if they uncover issues you or your office manager may have underestimated or worse, totally ignored. In short, they help you correct those things that need tweaking before a valued employee decides to leave.

To start the interview conversation, you might say: “You're a valued member of our practice. I want to be sure we're doing everything we can to help you be happy on the job and productive. So, let's spend a few minutes talking about that.”

During the interview, consider asking the following questions:

► What do you like best/least about your job and working here?
► What would you like more or less of in your work?
► Are we fully using your talents?
► Is there something new you would like to learn this year?
► What makes for a great day at work?
► What is one thing that would make your job more satisfying?
► What, if anything, would you like to change about your job?

Management expert Peter Drucker said, “The greatest boost to productivity would be for managers to ask, ‘What do we do in this organization (practice) that helps you do the job you're being paid for—and what do we do—that hampers you?' ”

If staff members feel completely safe in answering the above questions, you may get an earful.

Hard learned lessons:

► Some staff members will jump at the chance to discuss these issues. Others may be guarded in their answers. If a staff member is talking about an especially emotional situation, statements of empathy may be helpful. For example, “That must have been difficult/ frustrating/upsetting for you.”
► Whatever you do, don't belittle what may seem like a trivial complaint.
► Listen attentively. If, while a staff member is explaining a problem he/she is experiencing on the job, the person senses you're either uninterested or unsympathetic, he/she may become guarded.
► When people feel understood, they tend to become less defensive. The more accurately you can judge feelings and the more calmly you can accept them, the better your chances of helping staff members tell you what's important to them.
► Be creative in finding win/win solutions. More money may be off the table, but how about increasing the flexibility of work schedules so a staff member can attend to his or her young child or elderly parent?
► Another employee may express an interest for more responsibility, autonomy or recognition. Ignoring the situation either builds resentment or hastens a departure.
► Conducting stay interviews is only as valuable as your intentions. Actions and follow-up are what make these discussions work.

Taking the loyalty of valued employees for granted is naïve. If there are work-related issues that staff members find stressful or things about their jobs that they would like changed, now is the time to learn about them, and take action before these key people start looking for another job. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: October 2011