New hire retention
Illustration by Eric Jackson

Given the importance of the supervisor-employee relationship, what steps can companies take to ensure that frontline managers support new-hires through this critical period and help them to feel connected in their role?

Some companies conduct surveys at various checkpoints to measure and track employee engagement and opinions. A more proactive approach is to incorporate stay interviews to drive ongoing dialogue between supervisors and individual employees.

“Stay interviews provide solutions for engagement and retention, whereas surveys provide data, but they don’t provide solutions,” says says Dick Finnegan, CEO of C-Suite Analytics, and author of the book, “The Stay Interview: A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest.”

Importantly, stay interviews should be conducted by the employee’s direct supervisor—“always and only,” he stresses. “Employees don’t stay because they have a good relationship with HR.”

To conduct a stay interview, the supervisor should ask five questions, Finnegan explains:

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work?
  • What are you learning here?
  • Why do you stay here?
  • What could cause you to leave us?
  • What can I do to make your job better?

Getting honest and useful feedback requires frontline managers to build trust with new-hires. In addition, they need to learn how to probe for more information by asking follow-up questions to obtain specific feedback, such as: Tell me more; Can you give me an example of…; What makes you feel that way? Additional details will help managers to build individualized “stay plans” for each new-hire.

Managers should conduct stay interviews with each new-hire twice within the first 90 days, and then at least once a year afterward, Finnegan says. He also recommends that contact center executives make managers accountable for retaining new agents. How? By setting new-hire retention goals for frontline managers (e.g., X percent of new-hires to reach 90 days), tracking their effectiveness monthly, and providing them with the tools to keep their talent.