Anyone who has resigned or has been fired from a job has probably been through an exit interview. However, with the Great Resignation still in full force, it would be advisable for managers to conduct “stay” interviews, which could possibly help to improve employee retention.
A “Stay” interview is a process designed to check in with staff members to determine how employees currently feel about their jobs. It is also designed to know the needs of a staff member’s and understand motivations and goals within the organization.
According to the Rochester Business Journal, “… a “stay” interview is not about trying to persuade someone in your company to stay. It is a one-on-one conversation with an employee aimed at learning what they need to keep coming back in every day, as well as why they would disengage and leave the company. It allows leaders to develop strategies to prevent turnover, rather than learning from mistakes like what typically occurs during an exit interview.”
More likely conducted each quarter, a stay interview discussion enhances the concept of “helping” managers. Interviews should highlight the employee’s disposition and emphasize areas of contentment and frustration. They should never discuss current tasks or future projects.
Some typical questions are:
- What keeps you working here?
- If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
- What would make your job more satisfying? (Society of Human Resources)
Reframing questions to know how the employee views management styles could also be helpful. A few questions to consider:
- What is about my management style you like?
- What is about my management style you want to see change?
Responses to the second question may be hard to swallow but are necessary to know. If transparency is essential to the managing staff, they too should be willing to change some aspects of their leadership styles that are just not working to benefit employee engagements.
Committing to employees’ needs helps build a caring culture and adds to positive outcomes. Finnegan (2018) stated that “stay” interviews do three things:
- Information collected can be used immediately
- Formidable insight enhances employee engagements
- Managers can quickly create ‘stay’ plans based on data collected at stay interviews (p.5)
Stay interviews could produce significant changes in an organization. However, managers should approach this valuable effort with open minds and hearts.
Finnegan (2018) also noted that managers should:
“…think about these interviews ahead of time, you might put together a list of available company resources that would help the employee, including opportunities for continuing education, information on professional certifications, mentoring or cross-training opportunities, policies for tuition reimbursement, projects that could help build new skills as well as information on salary increases, overtime, schedule flexibility and more. Leaders can propose development plans, but it is up to employees to implement them and develop their own skills.”
Instead of just having casual conversations with staff members, “stay” interviews provide a structure for managers and employees to remain on similar goals. Attaining specific goals can happen more succinctly when consistent awareness of employees’ needs, and perceptions take precedence.
Dr. M. Charlotte Oliver
Driscoll, K. (2022). ‘Stay interviews’ can improve employee retention, satisfaction. Rochester Business Journal Online.
Finnegan, R.P. (2018) The power of stay interviews for engagement and retention. Society for Human Resource Management.,