Retrospectives Virtual Meetings

Retention Interviews & Techniques

Retention interviews are a fantastic way to ensure you avoid an exit interview. Be proactive in understanding their needs, their perceptions, and where you could grow together. But there is an even better way to set the stage for a retention interview which will engage your entire team and create more psychological safety.

First, what do employees want anyway?!

2022 offered unique problems in employee retention: according to a 2022 Hubspot survey, an average of 29% of employees are considering leaving their current role. That jumps to 37% for Millennials. Here is what they said valued most:

  • 65% say its important to make them feel like they are making a positive impact through their work.
  • 56% says to value a diverse and inclusive culture.

This leaves A LOT of room for interpretation, which is why retention interviews are critical. Managers must engage with their team, being empathetic and actively listening. Developing a culture of psychological safety for them to be transparent in their feedback is also key.

Creating Psychological Safety with Group Exercises

High performing teams are 5x more likely to be retained, and are much more likely to generate profits for the company. Here are the characteristics of high performing teams:

  • Effective working procedures
  • Shared values
  • Shared leadership
  • Complementary abilities
  • Trust and mutual respect
  • Adaptability to changes
  • Constant learning and improving
  • Regular result evaluation
  • Open communication

In order to have any of these characteristics, it goes back to creating psychological safety. Those efforts MUST be done in both group and individual settings. Retention is no different – you must approach this topic from both a group and individual setting to reinforce the behavior in an open, transparent way along with private discussions. This communicates the employee to uphold all the values above in both private and group settings, increasing their likelihood of communicating when something is wrong.

Components of psychological safety

Group Retention Interview for Virtual Teams

Begin with sharing your intentions with the team by reiterating the goals of the organization in context of why retention matters. What does it help you accomplish? What is your vision for the team? Then, ask for their permission in participating in a group discussion and then individual interviews.

I created a template in Miro that will lead you through the process of hosting a group morning meeting. It’s meant to be fun way to get the values and concepts for retention out in the open. It can be done in 30 minutes or a full hour. Check it out here:

Miro board of staff retention interview in a group setting

Or watch this video for instruction on how to run the meeting with your team:

Conduct the Retention Interview in a 1×1

After your group discussion, create a 30 minute interview with each team member. It is important to do this after the brainstorming activity because it will ensure they have thought sufficiently about the topic, giving them the opportunity for a sincere response. If possible, send the questions in advance. Make sure your first couple questions are positive because it will change their perspective of the call. Here are some sample questions:

  • What is the best part of your workday? Or what do you look forward to the most each week?
  • Do you have the tools/resources/training for doing your job? What do you need?
  • Do you feel recognized and valued? Is there anything I should be doing to better support you?
  • What are we currently not doing as a company you feel we should?
  • What would make your job even more satisfying?
  • What situations have made you think of leaving the company? (Make sure you ask this when you know trust has been established and they won’t feel penalty for their response)

You will note that all of these support the reasons people value a role [from the survey above]: it addresses the perception of performance and value, reinforces communication standards, and ensures an inclusive and trusting environment.

How frequently should you do all this?

I encourage it 1-2 times a year. It’s excellent to do this midway between your annual review cycles since that is often when people start considering their options for moving on. It gives you time to consider new career trajectories so the review cycle can have the highest impact possible.

Whatever you decide, congratulations and great job in being so proactive to retain your staff! The next thing to consider is how to support your employees in Personal Growth & Professional Development, which will set your organization apart for investing in their holistic development.