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Questions You Need to Ask Every Valued Employee

Employee retention and profitability are inseparably linked. To be the best, you need to have the best employees. With unemployment at record-setting lows, your most highly valued people have more options than ever before, should they become dissatisfied and decide to find another employer. Your best employees are the ones your competition wants to hire.

Your best employees stay with you because they know you care about them. One of the best ways to show them that you care is to have ongoing “Stay” Conversations. A stay conversation not only replaces exit interviews, which are an exercise in closing the barn door after the horses are out. But it also helps to keep your star employees onboard and engaged.

Stay conversations are a great way to ask your people intentional, effective questions that demonstrate to your employees just how respected and highly-valued they are — and there’s no better way to ensure employee retention than that.

Here are six of my favorite questions for minimizing employee turnover and maximizing profits:

1. “What satisfies you most about your job?”

Ask your people what motivates them to deliver such consistently great results on a daily basis. Once you know the answer — be it pride, the paycheck, what a great boss you are, or to earn a promotion — then be sure each person gets regular doses of what he or she needs.

2. “Is there anything we might do that would make you even more satisfied with your job?”

If it’s doable, make it happen. If it’s not, explain why not and offer a compromise of some sort, if possible.

3. “Do you have any suggestions as to how I might become a better manager?”

With the fierce competition for quality employees these days, it’s often not enough to simply meet expectations. Giving more service and value than your people expect will earn you their undying loyalty. Ask your people for their advice and opinions to start a dialogue; it will serve you well in the future. If your team members feel invested and involved in your company, they will be that much more motivated to want to see you and the organization succeed.

4. “If you owned this company, what would you do differently?”

Of all the questions on this list, I’ve found that this one is the most likely to get surprising and honest responses.

5. “Have we resolved the problem to your satisfaction?”

No one runs a trouble-free company, but one way you can distinguish yourself and improve employee retention is by ensuring that you resolve problems effectively. If your people feel you’ve taken their gripes seriously and done everything you can to make it right, they will be more likely to stick with you.

6. “Do you know anyone else who would be a good fit here?”

Birds of a feather flock together. It’s likely the family and friends of your most valued people have the same values and work ethic they do. Don’t miss any opportunity to ask them for referrals.

About the Author

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally recognized consultant, author, and speaker on strategies for hiring and retaining the best employees. He is president of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training, processes, and tools for recruiting, selection, and retention of the best hourly workforce. Kleiman is the author of five books, including the best-selling Hire Tough, Manage Easy. For more information, contact: Mel Kleiman, (713) 771-4401,,

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