Stay ahead of the Great Resignation with stay interviews

Like most businesses in America, veterinary practices are feeling the effects of the Great Resignation. The stay interview can help keep an unhappy employee from quitting suddenly and leaving your practice in the lurch.

What is a stay interview?

NEWStat reached out to Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalentTrust, a recruiting and human capital consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado ,  and author of Dare to Care in the Workplace: A Guide to the New Way We Work to find out more.

“A stay interview is really an intimate discussion with your employee to understand where they stand with you, their boss, and the company,” Votaw told NEWStat. “The discussion is between the employee’s direct manager and them.”

Whether you're the practice owner or the practice manager, you need to understand what your employee wants and why they choose to continue to work for you—or why they don’t. And a stay interview can help you do that.

Don’t wait until they’re ready to quit

The name might imply that a stay interview is something you only do when an employee is considering leaving. But Votaw said supervisors should consider stay interviews a preventative measure, not a counter-measure. They’re a way of taking an employee’s temperature to gauge their level of job satisfaction.

So how often should you conduct a stay interview?

“Every quarter at minimum for all your direct reports,” Votaw said. “The value [of a stay interview] is in understanding what your employees need before another employer provides it. So, hopefully you can close any real or perceived gaps.”

Votaw said the most common mistake most companies make when conducting stay interviews is delegating the discussion to the Human Resources Department: “That’s not where relationship is,” Votaw said. “It's between the direct manager and the employee who works with them.”

She said another common mistake is not listening or acting on the information provided: “Your employee will ‘test’ you to see if what they shared matters to you.”

It’s not an interrogation

Another mistake is conducting a stay interview like an interrogation, said Quinn Votaw.

Managers might be tempted to ask questions like, “Why do you choose to work for me?” or “Why would you leave?” This risks putting the employee on the defensive and making a potentially bad situation worse. Votaw says that you don't want to interrogate the people who you work with every day and advises that managers make sure they’re in a good mental place to receive feedback empathetically.

Don’t beg them to stay

It might seem counterintuitive, but Votaw said it’s not necessarily a good idea to try and get a valuable but unhappy employee to stay: “If someone is unhappy, invite them to leave,” said. “Don't beg them to stay. Retention sets the table for recruitment.  Make sure you’re not held hostage by any one person or employee. Ensure you have a pipeline of ready candidates.”

It’s about them

Most of all, Votaw says, make sure the employee hears that you’re worried about their welfare.

“Employees stay with managers who truly care about them, their families, their lives, hopes and dreams,” she adds.

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