Retention & Engagement

Having regular conversations with your employees will help retain and engage employees. These conversations will assist you in understanding employee challenges, help with organizational culture and planning, and provide a conversation opportunity outside of the formal performance appraisal process. 

Download the printable guide PDF

Guide to having retention conversations:

1.  Schedule a conversation with every member of your team annually or as needed outside of the annual evaluation.

2.  This one-on-one meeting should allow the employee to provide open feedback. Be prepared to act on the information shared with you.

3.  Choose 2-3 questions from each section below, that might be productive to your conversation.

Work Environment
  • What circumstances would enable you to do your best work?
  • Does your team work well together?
  • What barriers/challenges exist in your job/work area?
  • What frustrates you in your current job? What restricts productivity and innovation?
  • What do you like best about your current role? What would you like more of?
  • If you were the manager, what changes would you make?
  • What changes would you make to our work environment/culture?
  • What suggestions do you have for increasing the effectiveness of our team communication?
  • What change might make a recognizable difference in your work and work environment?
  • What ideas do you have about our work and work processes that might make your work more effective/efficient?
  • What decisions would you like me to seek your input?
  • Is work distributed fairly?
  • What do you like to be recognized for?
  • What is something you have done over the last six months that you would like to receive recognition for?
  • Are there areas you would like not to be recognized?
  • Who would you like to be informed about the good work you are doing?
  • Have you recently been recognized or praised in a way that increased your commitment to the job?
  • Name something that you are excited about that you have made progress in the past few months.
  • Are there areas in your job you have struggled? How might I be of assistance?
  • How can we further acknowledge you?
  • How do you prefer to be recognized (personal note, public recognition, nominal gift, etc.)?
  • Do you feel your work makes a difference?
  • Do you feel fully utilized in your current role? How else might we utilize your talents and interests?
  • How would you describe the engagement level on your team?
  • What motivates you most currently?
  • Do you believe you have the authority to make decisions that impact your work?
  • Do you feel you are proud of the work you do in this job?
  • Do you feel I have helped you to understand what is expected of you?
  • Have you been provided with timely and direct feedback about your job?
  • Where would you like to be in the organization two years from now? How can I assist you in getting there?
  • Are there obstacles you are facing with your career development?
  • What courses, publications, conferences, and development/growth opportunities would you like to pursue?
  • Are there tasks/duties that are currently not a part of your job that you would like to explore?
  • How can I support you?
  • What makes you feel most successful in this job?
  • What makes you think of leaving this job?
  • Why do you stay in this job?
  • What do you need to stay?
  • Are you aware of anything that might be causing retention problems?
  • Are the reasons you stay different from the reasons you came to the university?
  • What expectations did you have, when you first came to this job that have not yet been met? Which expectations have been exceeded?
  • What might I do to encourage you to stay with our unit/department?

4.  Develop action items addressing areas of retention concerns and opportunity. Resources and tools for developing action items may include:

  • Develop an action plan for employee development (Professional Development Plan).
  • Utilize training and development resources available in the e-learning portal.
  • Utilize campus Employee Assistance Program (EAP) resources.
  • Explore job specific certifications.
  • Explore growth/stretch opportunities within scope of current employee job description.
  • Review position description to determine if a job evaluation/assessment may be appropriate.
  • Discuss mentorship opportunities.
  • Contact Human Resources for additional counsel and resources.

You may request training for "Power of One Conversation" to learn how to hold retention and engagement conversations for your supervisors.