What will make employees stay?


Encouraging managers to hold stay, or retention, interviews with employees is the latest tool in the war to retain talent (FT. March 22). The logic is sound. Catch employees before they have another job offer and have mentally moved on. It’s an opportunity to find out what they are thinking, what would motivate them to stay and how things can be improved. It’s also an opportunity to paint a vision of an exciting future if they stay.

This seems to be a build on employee engagement surveys which are often used and all too often ignored. Stay interviews have the potential to be more effective as they are personal, and just possibly employee requests may be quite modest.


It requires trust between the parties if employees are to be open and honest. It also requires the manager to be empowered to make changes, and an expectation of corporate support. It may also make the manager’s job harder in the short term and some organisations are reluctant to impose this additional burden on managers who may themselves be feeling stressed and burnt out.

Whilst experienced managers will be used to checking in with their employees regularly, it may be a leap for a manager who’s been promoted for being a great operator. In the longer-term help may be at hand with automation taking away many traditional managerial tasks, leaving the manager with more time for supporting employees. To be successful managers will need to acquire new skills including adopting a coaching style and an ability to listen as well as being able to sell the benefits of the organisation to their employees.


What might employees want? Pay is certainly there and in a high inflation world it will be increasingly difficult for wages to keep pace in real terms. Whilst some organisations will be able to make pay awards, fairness versus the incentives needed to attract new hires will become an increasing issue.

Equity in recognising contribution is essential (HBR. Oct. 2021). Gartner (HBR. Jan. 2022) predict that some companies will go for a reduced working week instead. Flexibility to work from anywhere is one of the carrots being considered by some employers. Citi have gone a step further and plan to open an office in Malaga for junior analysts (FT. 21.3.22), offering both an attractive location and a promise that punishing hours won’t be part of the deal.


Nor will the normal banking starting salary. This in part recognises that beyond a certain point salary isn’t everything and work-life balance becomes more important. So too does job satisfaction. For many employees, feeling that they are continuing to learn via new experiences, stretch projects, training and development are important motivators.

For analysts in Malaga it remains to be seen if there’s a pathway to roles in the big global financial centres, and whether they will be able to retain that all important work-life balance.

Executive Coach Fiona Wilkinson specialises in working with leaders who are taking on new responsibilities, stepping up to a bigger role or preparing for promotion, where the impact of coaching can be transformational.

References

Cohen, D. & Roesk-Zummer, K. (2021). Employee Retention: With So Many People Quitting, Don’t Overlook Those Who Stay. Harvard Business Review. October 01.

Hill, R (2022). Sun, sea or salary: Citi recruits’ future of work trade off. Financial Times. 21 March.

Jacobs, E. (2022). What makes staff want to leave their jobs? Ask them. Financial Times. March 22.

Kropp, B. & McRae, E. R. (2022). Eleven Trends that will shape work in 2022 and beyond. Harvard Business Review. January 13. Also accessible via Gartner.com.

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