When it comes to foodservice workers with a wandering eye, the job market can be a dangerous place—at least for operators. In this job seeker’s market, more than 70% of hourly turnover is voluntary, and that churn can cost around $2,000 per hourly employee, according to researcher TDn2K’s People Report. To stop the cycle, some operators are resorting to stay interviews, like exit interviews but before a resignation. “Take time to sit down with [employees] and say, ‘How’s it going? What’s working for you?’” says Sara Anderson, director of workforce development for the National Restaurant Association.
At the University of Vermont in Burlington, stay interviews help retain around three out of every five employees who are considering making a move, says Aleks Zivadinovic, human resources manager for the dining team. Her group conducts stay interviews at the 30- to 45-day mark of a worker’s employment. Check out the must-ask questions that help boost retention.
What does your best day at work look like?
Lead with the positive, says Victoria Vega, VP of operations for corporate dining at contract management company Unidine. The company hosts stay interviews between direct managers and subordinates, as well as skip-level interviews with district managers and hourlies. Starting these discussions with positive topics such as personal and professional motivations and fulfillment creates more productive meetings, Vega says. “It’s not a dumping ground of complaining—it’s a collaborative, solution-driven discussion.”
What can we change to make you stay?
When a team member raises professional concerns, Zivadinovic brainstorms solutions with that staffer. She works with team members on everything: pay, scheduling, transfers and more. Even when the team has an exit interview, she tries to turn it into a stay interview, asking the worker why they’re leaving and what changes might get them to stick around.
What’s your dream job?
Each year, Unidine updates its retention question guide for stay interviews based on annual staff satisfaction surveys. But one constant ask is: “What is your dream job, and how can we make this your dream job?” The query often stumps people, Vega says, but that gives managers the opportunity to follow up with staff.
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