Alyzabeth R. Smith, CPA
It can be hard to pinpoint the trajectory of the economy. A sizzling job market may abruptly morph into mass layoffs. Signing bonuses may be replaced by rescinded offers. In some industries, prerequisites to entry have been reduced to increase headcount. As the economic pendulum swings erratically, good talent can be easily lost. And, it turns out, good help really is hard to find. As good recruiters will attest, if you take what you have for granted, what you have can be taken.
Keeping your business organized and primed for growth requires strong relationships with your staff. Facilitating these successful relationships requires maintenance. In this regard, continuity interviews have become a powerful tool in the employee retention process.
Remote work has certainly eased the pain of the commute, but it hasn’t eased the process of staying connected or protecting talent from poachers. Unencumbered by administrative gatekeepers and dead-end employee directories, recruiters have a veritable hunting ground in which to pitch opportunities. Employees no longer have to concoct an excuse to sneak out to take a job interview call or participate in other job search activities. The onus of keeping the eye from wandering has fallen heavily on management, and their success in this arena is often dictated by their ability to foster meaningful connection. As such, frequent touchpoints are an imperative element to preventing staff turnover, and continuity interviews help management determine organizational strengths and weaknesses. From these interviews, leadership can identify which company characteristics are considered valuable to employee engagement.
Notwithstanding the name, continuity interviews should not have the feel of an interview or be reminiscent of performance evaluations. In a performance evaluation, employees know their performance is being viewed critically, which can lead to feelings of anxiety or defensiveness. In a job interview, a prospective employee is likely to put their best foot forward, which can skew the results of their answers. For management to obtain the clarity and transparency needed to make these interviews useful, an emotionally safe environment is integral. In a continuity interview, it’s the other foot that needs to be seen so employees have symmetry as they march toward their career goals.
Continuity interviews should be conducted with thoughtful and introspective questions. Here are a few examples:
- What are some of the skills you have that your job position does not take advantage of?
- How do you quantify success in a workday?
- What is your biggest work-related challenge?
- Do you feel that you and your colleagues receive appropriate acknowledgement for your respective contributions?
- Which skills would you like to use more in your job position?
- Do you feel like your job expectations are transparent?
- Do you feel connected to your colleagues?
- Do you feel like your feedback to leadership is viewed receptively?
- Do you feel like you receive sufficient guidance from leadership?
- What would make you seek employment elsewhere?
For those participating in a continuity interview, this may be an opportune moment to wield some influence on future corporate policy. Bring suggestions, not demands. Consider process deficiencies and propose solutions. Note that if management is soliciting staff opinion, the contributions of those being queried is valued.
While no single firm can control mayhem in the marketplace, each organization can take steps to reduce their own staffing disruptions. Continuity interviews won’t guarantee employee retention, but if employees still choose to leave after these conversations, at the very least management will have introspective data to use for future process improvements.
For more on employee retention plans from Alyzabeth Smith, check out her article in the summer issue of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal.
Alyzabeth R. Smith, CPA, is a tax manager at Siegfried Advisory in Wilmington, Del., and a member of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal Editorial Board. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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