Why Practices Should Conduct Retention Interviews

Deltek , 24 January 2023

In 2023, talent attraction and retention promise to be ongoing challenges for Australian architecture. So, how do you hold on to the amazing talent you’ve got? Deltek outlines the benefits of conducting regular staff retention interviews and offers tips on how to conduct them.

It’s no secret that today’s employment environment is still unpredictable and that architecture firms are trying to navigate talent attraction and retention challenges. With practices focused on remaining competitive and fighting to win new projects, many while short staffed, talent is top of mind.

Even as 2023 gets underway, it’s an employee’s market. From design through to business development and operations, employees can be selective about which opportunities to take next. Even employees who are not looking for a new role are being enticed away by more lucrative and promising career opportunities.

How can practices hold on to top talent?

With potential employers offering perks over and above generous compensation, what can architecture practices do to hold on to the amazing talent they’ve got?

The truth is that practice leaders need to start thinking outside the box, making two-way, psychologically safe communication part of their company culture.

Employees need to feel part of something bigger and that they are valued as a part of the whole, and what makes them feel that way might be something the practice hadn’t even considered.

To create the communication opportunities needed for your employees to feel heard, we recommend conducting retention interviews.

What are retention interviews and how do you conduct them?

There are two interview cycles that practices usually adhere to – the hiring interview and the exit interview. By the time you get to the exit interview stage, it’s too late. Sure, you can get some of the information that you need to mitigate the risk of other top talent leaving the organisation. However, you’ve already lost a valuable member of the team.

ACA CEO Angelina Pillai commented: “The thinking with the retention interview is that architecture practice leaders will commit to finding time to talk to employees regularly throughout their time with the business. The objective is to offer a safe, open and non-judgemental space to gather honest input, feedback and suggestions designed to make the practice a better place to work, and to catch employees before they become dissatisfied and decide to move on.”

Incorporating retention interviews into your culture will make your current employees feel heard and help to attract new talent, as they know practice leaders will  value and listen to them.

Firms that include retention interviews in their employee wellbeing programs can expect to gain a deeper understanding of what employees are looking for at work over and above fair compensation. What does success look like for your employees? What can you do to support them in their career and carrying out their roles day-to-day? How do your employees know that you value them? What could you as a business be doing better and what are you doing well that could be used to attract top talent? The answers to these questions and more are the key to making sure that your practice is a great place to work and that you retain the talent that you bring into the business.

Four things to consider when conducting retention interviews

  • Limit the interview length to no more than 20 minutes and frame this with your employees as a casual chat rather than conducting it as you would a hiring interview.
  • Set a schedule for the interviews and stick to it – every three to six months is probably optimum.
  • The interviewer shouldn’t be directly linked to the employee (i.e., they shouldn’t be an immediate manager or co-worker). This will ensure that employees feel they can be open and honest about their experience with the practice.
  • Make sure that you capture data and information from each interview to allow you to spot common themes or longer-term trends.

As you would expect, scheduling and conducting retention interviews is only the beginning. You need to make sure that you act on what you are hearing and communicate back on how the practice plans to follow through on employee suggestions. If you don’t, you risk alienating your employees rather than motivating them and encouraging them to remain loyal to your practice.

Better software means better projects. Deltek is the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for project-based businesses. More than 30,000 organisations and millions of users in over 80 countries around the world rely on Deltek for superior levels of project intelligence, management and collaboration. Its industry-focused expertise powers project success by helping firms achieve performance that maximises productivity and revenue.