The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

February 12, 2014

“Stay Interview” Temp-to-Hire Employees, Too

The concept of the “stay interview” has received a lot of attention in Recruiting & Staffing and Human Resources in the past year.  With retention challenges expected to prevail per intensified competition among employers, the stay interview will certainly remain highly chattered about in 2014. If you’re unacquainted, stay interviewing refers to the practice of holding periodic one-on-one employer-supervisor meetings to discuss performance, address concerns and provide an overall sense of direction. The name is derived from the very purpose of the discussion – that is, to establish an essential, recurring dialogue to healthily extend an employee’s stay with an organization, and to address issues that might have otherwise been avoided until the exit interview, immediately preceding the employee’s departure. Undoubtedly, investing a little time and effort into stay interviews is enormously valuable to improving employee retention. Functioning as honest, informal exchanges, stay interviews reduce the harmful buildup of resentment by promoting transparency, resulting in stronger engagement and motivation.

Despite all the hype surrounding stay interviews, though, most experts focus exclusively on their use for the retention of permanent employees. The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and career site Monster, for instance, are among the many resources that prudently advise holding stay interviews on a regularly scheduled basis. But in temporary-to-hire employment, the achievement of the six-month, 90-day or even 30-day mark is contractually not guaranteed, so planning to stay interview this type of employee on, say, a quarterly basis, doesn’t make much sense. Likewise, excluding probationary workers from stay interviews entirely is equally disadvantageous because temp-to-hire employment exists primarily for the sake of “wait-and-see” evaluation to determine mutual fit. It’s easy to see, then, that employers absolutely need to utilize stay interviews for temp-to-perm staff – but more frequently and with closer evaluation than that for a permanent employee.  Here’s more detail about why you should do so:

1. Boost individual engagement regardless of employment terms Like that of permanent employees, engagement matters for temporary staff, especially if the objective is to potentially transition their status beyond the probationary period. So, if honest, candid stay interviews stimulate engagement, engagement correlates to stronger performance and performance bumps up revenue, there’s no excuse not to keep every person “checked into” the job if they’re being compensated for their work. 

2. Acquire additional relevant feedback Again, “permanent” versus “temporary” employment status doesn’t matter because any individual, whether he or she will remain with the company for 10 more days or 10 more years, is capable of candidly sharing opinions of value with management. Feedback on company culture, departmental efficiency and supervisory competency provide the foundation of organizational improvement, and should be gathered from as many viable sources as possible.

3. Evaluate transition to permanent status This one is pretty obvious and, for anyone already using the temp-to-perm model, hard to refute. Stay interviews for temp-to-perm staff help a manager to more carefully evaluate his or her employee’s technical abilities, interest in the position and long-term cultural suitability with the organization. Without holding these meetings regularly, a supervisor cannot possibly make a sound judgment on whether or not the company should extend and “confirm” someone’s permanent employment. Unlike those conversations with a direct-hire, permanent employee, the discussions should take place early on within the probationary period.

4. Reduce flight risks In a temporary-to-hire role, permanent employment is the desirable outcome for both parties. The employee is granted more secure work, while the employer “hires” someone who already has hands-on experience in the company, so training expenses are alleviated. However, as permanent employment is not guaranteed, the temp-to-perm worker might be inclined to seek other, external direct-hire roles without the engagement and attention offered via stay interviews. These meetings will help retain the employee’s interest in the role and the organization.

The growth of temp-to-perm hiring, coupled with the need to constantly engage with employees for stronger retention, justify the need to be aware of the above. Whether or not your company actively sources new staff with the temp-to-perm model, this popular, cost-saving strategy is now prevalent enough to require your familiarity with related best practices for management and maximization of staff value.

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