Conducting a Stay Interview

A Stay Interview is one of your greatest tools to help retain star employees. Here’s how to do it right!

Employee turnover is a growing concern with many organizations and the biggest question asked, when all is said and done, is ‘why did they leave?’ Often companies will use an exit interview to identify underlying factors that lead to the employee quitting, but what if you could address concerns before the person ever considered jumping ship? Enter the Stay Interview.

The Stay Interview is an interview conducted with current employees to discuss their position, what they enjoy, what they dislike, suggestions for improvement and change and overall satisfaction, to be sure that they are committed to stay. There can be many different ways to approach the Stay Interview and, in fact, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an interview
at all. If you have decided to try Stay Interviews, here are four ‘why-do-you-stay?’ formats to consider using depending on your situation. These formats include:

  1. A one-on-one interview with their Manager
    Have the employee’s manager ask the questions during a face-to-face interview. Getting managers to talk to their own employees is such a powerful tool; this format beats the other options hands down. Skype and telephone interviews are also acceptable as close alternatives.
  2. A one-on-one interview with HR
    In cases where the employee’s manager may be reluctant or where they may themselves be part of the problem, an HR professional can be assigned to conduct the interview. Because they are experienced interviewers, in some cases, the results can actually be more accurate and insightful.
  3. Questionnaires/Surveys provided to current employees
    Provide a sample of the current employees with an electronic survey or questionnaire that asks the same questions that a one-on-one interview would ask as an acceptable option. This approach may actually be required for remotely located or shift employees
  4. A focus group covering a small group of employees
    In this format, you ask a group of targeted employees in the same job family why they stay and what might cause them to leave. Remember not to overgeneralize with group-wide stay or turnover factors.

Whatever format you pick for your Stay Interview, keep in mind that your company must act on the feedback you receive. Positive stories and answers are nice and show that you are on the right track, but larger consideration should be given for the negative feedback. Use Stay Interview responses to improve on process and coach employees and management, thus decreasing turnover and resulting in a more happy and healthy organization.

Part of this article is excerpted from Stay Interviews: an Essential Tool for Winning ‘the War to Keep Your Employees,’ originally published on ere.net, by Dr. John Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan is an internationally known author and thought-leader, with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of Talent Management.

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