Stay Interviews – What are They & 10 Questions to Ask
Many organizations conduct “exit interviews” with departing employees. But, what about “stay interviews”?
Although information gleaned in an exit interview can be very valuable on what went wrong, many times it’s too late. In an effort to curb the “Great Resignation”, companies may greatly benefit from implementing a consistent stay interview program.
What is a Stay Interview?
According to former employment attorney and author Jathan Janove, J.D., a stay interview is “an innovative tactic to prevent the often less-than-satisfactory exit interview. Instead of waiting to query a departing employee about the reasons for leaving, the stay interview proactively explores what makes employees more or less likely to stay or leave and thereby gives company leadership and HR valuable retention information.”
Kate Heinz with Built-In says the objective of a stay interview is three-fold:
- Learn what employees enjoy about your company.
- Figure out what employees dislike about your company.
- Reinforce two-way communication between management and employees.
An employee’s direct manager should conduct a stay interview. It helps cultivate a strong relationship founded on trust and open communication, and an employee’s relationship with their manager significantly influences their decision to stay.
Stay interviews should be conducted across the board for all employees, although it should not occur too soon after employment starts. The employee should be fully settled into their role and accustomed to the work environment and company culture in order for the stay interview to yield useful results.
How often? Try to conduct stay interviews annually, but not at the same time as an annual review. It’s also wise to conduct them all within a few days or weeks of each other. This way, you can promptly act on the data you’ve collected so employee feedback is not left unaddressed for a long period of time. You don’t want to evaluate the interviews and create action plans until they are all completed. You will benefit from seeing consistent patterns that come into play, versus one-off comments.
10 Stay Interview Questions to Ask
Unlike an exit interview where you have a sets list of questions to get through, a stay interview should be more carefully tailored to the individual. The setting should be comfortable and less rigid than a boss’ office, to allow for more open dialogue and ease of conversation.
Following are 10 examples of typical questions in a stay interview. The important thing is to stay away from “performance-related” questions and to focus mainly on what they like and dislike about the company and their job.
- What do you look forward to at work every day?
- What do you dislike about work every day?
- What do you think of the way employees are recognized?
- How would you rate our work-life balance? How could it be improved?
- What do you enjoy (or dislike) about the professional development opportunities offered?
- What causes you anxiety or frustration at work?
- What makes a “good day” at work?
- What did you love about your last company that you no longer have?
- What did you love about your last position that you no longer have?
- What can I do to make your experience better?
Finally – Put Things Into Action
In her article, Heinz heeds the importance of using the information that is collected from stay interviews to make positive changes at your organization. When your employees take the time to share their honest feedback, failing to act on it will make you appear disingenuous and cheapen the value of the stay interview. It is management’s responsibility to actively listen and try to make improvements.
- SHRM’s HR Week, 4/30/2023. “Expert Advice on Implementing Stay Interviews”, by Jathan Janove, J.D., April 24, 2023.
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