As the name implies, the stay interview simply asks employees why they stay. Unlike the well-known exit interview, a stay interview solicits employee feedback before they decide to leave the organization, which can help lead to an increase in employee retention.
Preparing for Stay Interviews
For stay interviews to be effective, employees need to know they can trust the interviewer specifically and their employer generally when it comes to assessing their likes and dislikes about their workplace without fear of reprisal. They need to know that their employer will listen to them and strive to make improvements based on what they learn. This trust may take some time, but employees will probably become more open and expressive after they’ve been interviewed a few times, especially if they’ve seen changes made with no forms of retaliation.
Scheduling the Interviews
Thirty minutes or less should be a sufficient amount of time and you'll want to make sure you first ask the questions you most want answers to. How often you conduct these interviews will likely depend on how many employees you have, who you have conducting the interviews (individual managers or HR), and whether you have regular check-ins with employees. If managers have regular one-on-one meetings with their employees, then conducting a stay interview once a year should be sufficient if you’re regularly chatting with them about these matters.
Executing the Interviews
You may wish to open the interviews with a statement such as, "Thank you for meeting with me. I wanted to have an informal discussion about how your job is going, how you enjoy working here, and what we can do to support you. We value your feedback, and we want this to be a great place to work."
Open-ended questions are best, as they can provide more actionable information. But it’s also important to limit your questioning to matters that are within your power to change.
Here are a few questions you might consider asking:
• What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
• What keeps you working here? What might tempt you to leave?
• If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
• What would you like to learn here?
• What can I do to best support you?
Closing the Interviews
At the close of the stay interview, review the highlights of the discussion and let the employee know what to expect going forward. You might say something like, "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me and share this feedback. I am committed to doing what I can to address your concerns. You'll receive a recap from me about our discussion, and please feel free to come and ask questions about the items we've discussed."
Documenting the Interviews
To ensure that you and the employee are on the same page about what was discussed during the stay interview (or regular check-in), take notes about what was discussed and share them with the employee afterwards. Something like, “Here’s a recap of what we’ve discussed. If I missed anything or if you have any additional feedback, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add it to the list.”
If any changes are made because of the employee’s feedback, be sure to let the employee know in the recap. Also let them know if any expected or desired changes couldn’t be made, and why (if appropriate). Transparency is key, particularly as you won’t be able to fix everything or please everyone. Employees may not like the way everything is done, but if you share with them the reasons the company behaves the way it does, they’ll be more likely to trust you and share their concerns in the future.
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