HR committee focuses on tips to keep employees at Pitt


Human Resources’ six-month-old employee retention committee is preparing to release a set of strategies and a “portfolio of helpful tools,” said HR spokesperson Nichole Dwyer, to help supervisors better understand employees’ needs and aid in retaining them for the future.

James Gallaher, vice chancellor for human resources, created the committee this spring, after questions and concerns from managers and because of the current low unemployment and national retention issues, Dwyer said. It benchmarked other universities’ HR efforts and examined current retention studies and best practices and resources, including from the national college HR organization. It also included data gathered through the University’s Shaping the Workplace initiative.

The tool portfolio to be shared with supervisors this fall will include advice for such procedures as conducting stay interviews and exit interviews and other higher-education best practices

A “stay interview” can be conducted at any time — every six months or so — and is easy for supervisors to adopt, Dwyer said. “The interviews don’t need to be formal,” she said, “but they should focus on the employee’s needs and what motivates them in their work. 

Example questions include:

  • Do you feel you have the training and tools you need to be successful? 

  • Are you experiencing any challenges or obstacles?

  • What do you like most about your work? 

  • Is there anything that you would like to develop or improve?

After each interview, she said, supervisors should “better understand what the employee wants; they may hear concerns that can be addressed to aid in the employee’s retention; and they (can) continue to build a relationship based on open communication which can assist in identifying potential challenges before they develop.”

The use of such tools by supervisors will be voluntary, Dwyer said. The hope is that this can be another instance of HR and Pitt employees “working together to enhance employee retention and engagement at Pitt.”

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


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