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Employee Benefits

What Is a Stay Interview?

a very new description

Published On: February 28, 2022

The pandemic-induced Great Resignation of 2021 has forced employers of all sizes and industries to rethink best practices around acquiring and retaining top talent. For instance, some companies now offer large signing bonuses, revamped benefits packages, work-from-home options, and more. 

As employees continue to leave employers at record rates, managers, HR professionals, and HR leaders are moving forward with a “stay interview.” 

So how do you conduct a stay interview? Can stay interviews truly reduce employee churn?  

Below we share the top tips, guidelines, and benefits of stay interviews.   

What Are Stay Interviews? 

Stay interviews are the opposite of exit interviews, or conversations that happen between a company and an employee who has decided to leave the business. Unlike exit interviews, stay interviews focus on what would motivate an employee to remain with an employer. To be clear, stay interviews are not a new retention strategy, but they are becoming more prevalent as employee departures continue to trend upward. 

For stay interviews to be successful, the interviewer (most often the employee’s immediate manager or an HR manger) should focus on how employees feel about their daily responsibilities, their contributions to the organization, and their long-term career path within the company. 

Stay interviews help a company accomplish two things: a keener look at employee engagement and the ability to realistically assess an employee’s long-term future at the company.  

What Motivates Employees to Stay at a Company? 

Before we go into the specific questions to pose during a stay interview, it is important to weigh the various characteristics of employee retention. Beyond normal compensation and benefits desires, employees desire security surrounding four specific points:  

  • A clear and obtainable growth path within the organization 

  • Ensuring their opinions are heard and valued  

  • Fair and transparent treatment by their immediate manager 

  • That their work is rewarding and has purpose 

Examples of Stay Interview Questions 

Here are some common examples of stay interview questions: 

  • Do you feel you are making an impact within the organization? 

  • What excites you about your job? 

  • Does your current workload feel appropriate?  

  • Do you feel you are heard and valued? 

  • How do you feel about your long-term future at our company? 

  • If you were a manager for a day, what would you do differently on your team or in your department? 

  • What are we not doing as a company that we should be doing? 

How to Conduct a Stay Interview 

We recommend managers take an open “active listening” approach to whatever an employee says during their stay interview. This is not a forum for managers to object to what the employee is expressing. Instead, take what the employee says at face value, and if you can set their mind at ease about some things, do so. 

If you cannot solve a problem in the moment, promise to get back to them with specific or actionable answers. Listen and clarify. Do not make judgments or excuses. At the heart of these questions, you should focus on developing a sharper understanding of how the employee is doing, what they hope to accomplish in their career, and what you can do to ensure they have a long-term future with the company. 

What's more, this interview process should not feel overly formal. Instead, it should feel like an open conversation that exudes sincere concern for the employee as an individual, instead of as another cog in the machine or a simple worker bee.

What Happens Next?   

Once you or a manager have conducted a round of stay interviews, make a list of all the action items you can implement to increase employee satisfaction and retention. Chances are there will be common threads across certain teams and larger departments. Any steps you can take quickly to reduce the likelihood of employee turnover and demonstrate that the organization takes employee feedback seriously.  

Pick some low-hanging fruit for easy wins to reinforce your commitment to acting on employee feedback. 

There are situations, however, where employee concerns may not be able to be met or their long-term goals do not align with the company. 

In these situations, managers should ask themselves: 

  • What is my long-term vision for our department/team? 

  • Do we want to retain employees with marginal performance? 

  • Do we have the budget to compensate all our current employees to meet their expectations? 

  • Do we have the positions or growth tracks planned to ensure employees have opportunities for growth on the team?  

Framing stay interviews with these points in mind will allow organizations to better judge which employees are flight risks instead of being reactive and/or anxious without good reason. 

A final point: Stay interviews should not be something that happens reactively. Excellent managers will have consistent touch points to ensure their people feel valued and motivated. When managers regularly make their employees feel like a valuable part of the team and that their contributions matter, employees are less likely to seek out other opportunities. 

Eager for more exclusive content? Head over to the Mployer Advisor blog to check out the latest trending headlines.  

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Abbey Dean

Director of Content, Mployer Advisor

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