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10 Questions to Ask Your Employees

August 16, 2007

Michael Jalbert, president of Management Recruiters International (, believes that bosses should think of retention as re-recruiting their workforce.

"This means applying the strategies and tools of external recruiting to your current employees" he says. "It means proactively reaching out to your top talent on a regular and ongoing basis."

Jalbert says that bosses should always assume that their best employees are getting calls and offers from their competitors. "Adopt the policy that no one will work at a company longer than 1 year without being re-recruited by the boss," he advised. "Drop loyalty from your vocabulary and accept that you must continually challenge top talent if you are to keep them."

Ten Questions for Current Employees

To help bosses effectively re-recruit employees, Jalbert offers 10 questions that probe how employees feel about their jobs. The answers to the following questions can often determine whether or not they will stay on their jobs:

  1. If you could make any changes about your job, what would they be?
  2. What things about your job do you want to stay as they are?
  3. If you could go back to any previous position and stay for an extended period of time, which one would be it and why?
  4. If you suddenly became financially independent, what would you miss most about your job?
  5. In the morning, does your job make you jump out of bed or hit the snooze button?
  6. What makes for a great day?
  7. What can we do to make your job more satisfying?
  8. What can we do to support your career goals?
  9. Do you get enough recognition?
  10. What can we do to keep you with us?

Informal Approach

Although they can be useful at review time, these questions don’t have to be asked in a formal session, says Jalbert. Using this technique can actually enhance communication between managers and their employees.

"We encourage bosses to schedule time when they can introduce these topics in an informal manner--over a cup of coffee or lunch, for instance," says Jalbert. "The key to success is promptly addressing issues that could lead to losing a key member of the team or making sure that the employee has a full understanding of situations that cannot be easily changed."

Jalbert points out another benefit to taking this approach with employees. "You’ll often discover things about your company culture or work environment that need fixing," he says. "If you’re hearing the same dissatisfaction--or the same contentment--from your people, it’s easy to determine what’s working and what’s not."


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