Stay interviews allow contact centers to get arms around employee attrition

Egan-Vicky-174-4By Vicky Egan, RCDA Senior Consultant

Is attrition killing your contact center performance? An empty seat impacts the entire company. The productivity of the call center will decline, it will impact customer service metrics, service levels will take a hit, and it will affect other KPIs because the team will be handing the same volume of calls with one less team member. Additionally, when a contact center hires a new agent, it will still impact these metrics because an inexperienced agent is on the team. Further, replacing employees incurs additional costs such as recruiting and training.
Retaining employees in contact center environments will become even more challenging over the next few years as the U.S. economy strengthens and more companies embrace “right-shoring” or bringing call center jobs from Asia-Pacific.

How can you learn what your company can do to keep employees from leaving? Relying on exit interviews can provide insights, but it’s too late by then to affect change. Use the stay interview instead. This tool allows employees to discuss what they like and don’t like about their current positions, and it can help reduce employee turnover rates.

The best time to conduct a stay interview

Experts recommend doing stay interviews at least once per year opposite the employee performance review, and twice during the critical period when your company experiences attrition of new hires—for example, the first 180 days for call centers.

Organizations conduct them to help leadership understand what tends to make employees stay, and why they might leave. The best stay interviews last less than 30 minutes, with the interviewers asking a prepared set of questions designed to drive a candid, relaxed and honest conversation.

The best questions help your most valuable employees understand that you:

  • Recognize and appreciate their loyalty.
  • Care about more than just their performance.
  • Are open to making changes that would bring them more satisfaction.

They also help you discover:

  • Warning signs that indicate a key player needs more support or direction.
  • Ways to keep the employees in whom you’ve invested the most time and resources.
  • Low-cost changes that could reaffirm an employee’s commitment and engagement.

Questions to ask

Here are some examples of questions to ask during a stay interview. In developing your questions, think about what will be most effective in having a conversation with your employees to discover everything you can about how to retain them.

  • What is your favorite thing about your job and working for us?
  • What is your least favorite thing about working for us?
  • What makes you stay with us?
  • When you come to work, what do you look forward to or get excited about?
  • What makes you feel motivated or inspired?
  • What makes you feel unmotivated or uninspired?
  • How can we support you better?
  • What would make you more satisfied here?
  • What would you like me to do more?
  • What would you like me to do less?
  • What might cause you to leave us?
  • What would you change about your job if you could?
  • Do you have any talents you feel we are not utilizing?

How to close

Verbally summarize the main reasons the employee has given you for staying or possibly leaving. Always end with a positive statement. Here are some examples:

  • OK, so here’s what you told me about what keeps you here, versus why you might go somewhere else.
  • Thank you for answering my questions and having this conversation with me. We’re doing these interviews because we want to do everything possible to ensure this is a great place to work and that you’re happy here.

Adding stay interviews to your management strategy can help your organization retain your best employees and help prevent costly underperformance due to attrition.

To learn more about how RCDA helps clients develop and implement the stay interview process, contact us today.

Adapted from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)