The Importance of Stay Interviews

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While it's important to understand why employees leave, it's just as important to understand why employees stay. Stay interviews provide companies with a real chance to make necessary changes to help retain current employees – and perhaps even increase profitability! 

Unlike a job performance review or an exit interview, the stay interview is an opportunity for managers to ask their top talent: "What can we do to make you stay?" This one-on-one informal conversation allows employees to discuss what is working for them and what changes need to be made to keep them happy and productive in the job. It's not just a feedback kind of question; it also plants a little "stay" seed in the employee's head and can increase retention levels.

The focus here is to see how the job is going from the employee's perspective, not your managerial perspective. Engage your employees with a very open approach. Make sure they feel comfortable and be sure to separate the stay interview from other discussions about performance. Ask open-ended questions about the employee's career goals, the need for positive changes or problems that may need to be addressed.

  • What makes for a great day at work?
  • What are the things you like about your work?
  • What keeps you motivated?
  • What do you like best /least about the job?
  • Is there something new you want to learn this year?
  • What can be done differently to best help you?
  • What would you like to change about your current job?
  • Are there things you would like to change about your co-workers, group or department?
  • Is there one thing that could make your job more enjoyable and rewarding?
  • Is there anything causing you to consider leaving the company? How can we help to resolve it?
  • What is your ideal job, and how can we help your progress towards it?
  • Do you feel encouraged in your career goals? How can we help you achieve your goals?
  • Do you feel you receive recognition in your job?
  • What kind of recognition would be most relevant?
  • If you quit today, what would you miss most about the job? What would you miss the least?

During and after the stay interview, it's important to be honest and admit that you might not be able to provide everything the employee wants, but that his feedback is valuable. Emphasize that as the manager, you can listen to his concerns, validate his feelings and assure him that you will do what you can to explore options to solve any issues within the workplace. It's important that you follow through with any issues and concerns discussed during the stay interview and keep the employee up-to-date with any progress being made.

Not only do stay interviews give the employer a chance to fix a problem that an employee might be experiencing, but in the event of an employee leaving, they gain valuable insights into the problems that might exist. Studies have shown that one improvement in engagement can increase revenue over $4,000 a year! In addition to increased profitability, benefits of stay interviews can include:

  • Understanding why employees accepted their positions, what they like about it and what they would like to see improved
  • Learning which employees might be at risk to leave and what you can do to retain them
  • Accessing competitor information and how they compete for your talent
  • Reducing unwanted turnover

If exit interviews and engagement surveys aren't working, what do you have to lose? It's important to invest in new strategies and techniques that encourage growth and if stay interviews help fix and improve just one process a year, isn't it worth the time and effort?

Does your company participate in stay interviews? Why or why not?

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Guest March 29 2017
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