Start by Asking the Right Questions

July 10, 2022by Jennifer Murray1

It’s Q3 2022! Are you starting to think about the optimal mix of benefits to offer your team at renewal time? Some leaders have scurried during the past six months to bolster the benefits package in an effort to reduce employee turnover.

We see a lot of inquiries on social media regarding the mix of benefits that organizations are offering. Have you seen posts in a Facebook community or LinkedIn?  “Hello network, I am new to this organization and inherited a turnover problem. I wonder what you are offering to improve your benefits package without blowing the budget?”

While the community feedback may be interesting, it is shortsighted. Compensation, benefits, and policies should be appropriate for the individuals that support the growth of your organization. The demographic mix in manufacturing typically differs from an IT organization, and a grade school faculty. Each of these subgroups have dominant needs. Furthermore, each team contributor has specific needs. Some may think that it’s impossible to address everyone’s needs. If you value your team members, would it be worthwhile to start by identifying their needs and then determining which needs you can support?

Last month, I met with leaders from a wide range of vertical markets including, retail, services, high tech, and educational institutions. They were well aware of the need to offer competitive packages to their existing team members and future applicants. The idea of implementing surveys was new to some. Others have been conducting surveys for several years. Some have automated solutions and can easily leverage technology to provide insights and track trends. However, most don’t have those tools or budget to implement the software. Regardless of the technology available, there are multiple ways to collect the information that you need to guide your decisions on benefit program enhancements. Some examples include online surveys, paper surveys in environments where team members have limited access to connectivity, and focus groups. By asking your team members for their input, you will come closer to developing a total compensation package that truly is a retention tool.

Where do you start? There are two simple, yet strategic data gathering tools to consider implementing today! The first tool is the Exit Interview. We use this short survey to understand why people are leaving the organization.

Pew Research published data that reveals why people left their jobs in 2021. Often people assume pay is the driver. The Pew Research Study showed that high percentages of employees also left because there were no opportunities for advancement or people felt disrespected at work. Could your data be different? Absolutely! Investigate why people are leaving your organization, identify the trends, and implement changes that will align with the needs of the team members you want to retain and attract in the future.

What if your team members won’t complete the survey? This happens sometimes. Managers or Human Resource Managers can conduct the survey in person or over the phone. Alternatively, you can share an electronic survey during the offboarding process. Some organizations use a third-party to conduct the survey. Consider the options and start collecting data that will help you shape your future policies and programs.

What if team members won’t complete the survey honestly? This concern arises from time to time. Crafting open-ended questions may help. Using a third-party or an anonymous online survey may be helpful, as well. Over time, as the volume of responses increases, you will find actionable insights to help you customize your program and meet your objectives.

The second tool focuses on retention: the Stay Interview. This short survey is best conducted in-person with a trusted leader. The stay interview creates an opportunity to identify flight risks and prevent turnover. The questions identify what each team member likes about the organization and his/her role. It also uncovers areas of improvement. If you agree that it’s better to proactively find out the satisfaction level of team members before they resign, but feel too stretched to utilize this program, we have tools and templates to partner with you.

Is having an open discussion about employee satisfaction a scary proposition? To some leaders, it is frightening to think about what they might learn. Leaders that have adopted this program have discovered that it is a powerful retention tool, and it provides more time to plan for potential changes.

One of my favorite books is The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly2. He shared a story about a janitorial service company with hundreds of employees and 400% turnover. Were all of the maintenance workers leaving to make more money or is it possible they would stay if they had a stronger connection to the organization and gained tools and strategies to make their dreams come true? Kelly shared a turnaround strategy. It started with building trust, getting to know their team members, and their needs. If you are asking questions about why your team members stay and learning about why people leave, you can begin to win the battle for top candidates and retain your key team members.

Kim Parker, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 cite low pay, no opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected; Pew Research March 9 2022.

2 Kelly, Matthew. The Dream Manager. Beacon Publishing, 2007. Print.

One comment

  • Doug Meeker

    July 12, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    This is great stuff, Jennifer! Thank you for sharing!!


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