Effective 'Stay Conversation' Strategies to Reduce Employee Turnover

How to Use ‘Stay Conversations’ to Retain Key Talent in Your Organization

Many organizations are struggling to cope with the current job market and the particular challenges it entails. They are finding themselves having difficult conversations with their employees –– which oftentimes leads to the employee expressing they are unsatisfied with their role and their decision to leave the organization. And, in an age where exceptional talent is hard to come by, this can have costly implications on your bottom line.

To prevent finding yourself in the same position, keeping your current team engaged and growing is fundamental, not only to reduce turnover but also to create an environment where people want to continue to invest their time and energy.

Continue reading to learn more about effective stay conversations and how to use them to develop a highly-skilled team from within your organization.

Stay Conversations: What are they?

Stay conversations are a critical piece of a manager’s regular communications with their direct reports. During this part of the discussion, the goal is to gain insights into their experiences in their current role and interactions, career growth, and general company feedback. Ultimately, these conversations are a way to get to know your employees on a deeper level with the intent of understanding their goals, interests, and genuine experiences with your organization. By doing so, you improve your relationship with your team members and help identify and address any problems that they may be experiencing before it's too late. In the end, such conversations can be seen as a tool you use to improve your business and prevent your best employees from leaving your organization in search of something better.

5 Stay Conversation Strategies to Implement in Your Organization

To help you foster a truly authentic conversation, here are a few strategies to keep in mind in your process.

1. Establish a Meeting Cadence

While stay conversations don’t necessarily need to be formal meetings, they should be held in a quiet, safe environment where the employee feels free to open up about their true feelings about the organization. For some employees, this may be in a coffee shop, over lunch, in a park, or any other less formal setting. Determine what time and place work best for your employees and establish a regular time to meet. Once you begin to have more confidence in your relationship, these conversations can take place more naturally in the workplace. 

2. Ask Targeted Questions

Once you establish your meetings, it is essential to be prepared with a list of key questions you would like to discuss. Consider dividing your questions into groups to keep your conversation organized and help you ask your key questions. However, it is important to focus more on keeping the flow natural and conversational to gather the best feedback and establish a strong rapport. 

Some possible questions to ask include: 

  • What has been your biggest surprise about our organization’s culture?
  • What would you like to learn here?
  • What keeps you working here?
  • What might tempt you to leave?
  • What motivates you to perform well in your current position?
  • What demotivates you in your current position?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your contributions/accomplishments?
  • What can I do as a manager to better support you?
  • What do you find most exciting about your work? Least interesting?
  • What would make your job more satisfying?

By including both personal and company-specific questions, you can gain a holistic understanding of your employees and their specific experiences at your company.


3. Listen to Understand 

One of the most important aspects of communication is listening –– and the value of conducting stay conversations is when you truly listen to your employees’ responses. Use this time to take notes and dig deeper into the underlying issues, not judging them or offering solutions. Remember that this conversation should center around them and their experiences, and by actively listening, you will affirm that you care and respect their time and opinions. 

Related: 5 Strategies to Win Over Your Top Candidates

4. Create a Plan

After listening and taking notes throughout the conversation, take some time to reflect on what was shared. Identify the most important points of the discussion and outline a strategy to help you address these points. By being able to see a clear roadmap for change, your employees will gain a better understanding of what they can expect to see altered in the coming weeks or months. 

5. Take Action

After creating a plan that addresses the key points discussed in your conversation, it is time to take action. Figure out what steps you can take now to make the situation better for the individual. Once they begin to see actual change taking place, they will likely become more engaged and motivated. On the other hand, if there is a lack of commitment to make changes to the organization, it can lead to employees losing trust and possibly becoming even more frustrated –– and possibly even motivating them to leave. 

6. Follow Up Regularly

The beauty of stay conversations is that they can take place anytime and anywhere, and still strengthen the relationship between leadership teams and other employees. To get the most out of these check-in conversations, consistency is key, as it demonstrates your commitment and helps build trust. This is why we recommend scheduling these dialogs regularly, preferably monthly or quarterly. Over time, these conversations will feel more natural, offering reliable insights into the current state of your teams. And, as long as there is a sincere intention behind them, your employees will begin to feel heard, appreciated, and more engaged in their work.


Data-Driven Assessments to Foster Employee Engagement

At Kinsley Sarn, we not only specialize in Executive Search services for sourcing talent, but we also offer executive assessment services that can be used to further cultivate your key leader's abilities to make a positive impact in your organization. 

Our services include:

  • Qualitative 360-degree feedback
  • Psychometric profile
  • Competency assessment
  • In-depth career and performance history evaluation interviews

These data-driven assessments provide a comprehensive look at a person’s skills, strengths and weaknesses, and growth potential. With this information, you can have more effective stay conversations and work with the individual to develop their capabilities in a way that is in line with their career goals and benefits your organization. In the long run, this commitment to your employee's professional growth will help you retain key leaders, as they are more likely to feel a sense of appreciation from your end.

To learn about the added value of incorporating executive assessments in your organization process, contact our team by clicking the button below. 

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