January 13th, 2022

How to Make Your Stay Interviews More Effective

It’s surprising stay interviews aren’t being talked about more right now—but that might change. Stay interviews are incredibly insightful for HR professionals to understand how to retain employees. And in a time where the national quit rate is 3%—the highest it has been in 20 years—employers need every tactic possible to keep their employees. 

If you’re unfamiliar with stay interviews, use this information as a starting point. If you’ve conducted your fair share of stay interviews, consider these tips and questions to help you get more out of your stay interviews. 

Understand the Purpose of Stay Interviews

Stay interviews happen before an employee leaves. They take place at any time in an employee’s term of employment, but often arise when there has been an increase in turnover among other employees. As a result, it’s a common occurrence in HR departments right now. 

The purpose of a stay interview is to understand why employees have remained with your organization and their job—and what would cause them to leave. 

Stay interviews shouldn’t be confused with exit interviews. Exit interviews occur when an employee has already put their notice in and is on their way out. It’s too late for a stay interview when an employee is already thinking about leaving. 

Recognize the Power of Stay Interviews

There are many benefits of stay interviews. They foster an open, trusting relationship between employees and their managers by allowing employees to give feedback. 

But long-term benefits of stay interviews also include reduced turnover, better productivity, and employee loyalty. When employees feel heard and recognized, they are more likely to stay engaged in their job. 

Right now, stay interviews are particularly powerful because things are changing quickly. And as turnover increases, stay interviews will be the first line of defense in businesses’ retention efforts. 

Tips for Better Stay Interviews

Stay interviews don’t have to be complicated or lengthy. But if you are new to them, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Determine the best cadence for conducting stay interviews. Some organizations are just now implementing stay interviews. But it’s best practice to have them regularly and not just in times of need. For example, host stay interviews annually or within 90 days of hiring an employee. 
  • Stay interviews should be informal. Putting pressure on employees during a stay interview, like a formal interview, isn’t useful. You want the interview to be conversational so that employees feel comfortable to share their thoughts honestly. 
  • Don’t have your HR lead-up stay interviews. Managers should conduct stay interviews among their employees and provide learnings to HR. Managers have a closer relationship with their team and are ultimately responsible for the growth and development of their employees. If HR conducts the interview, it can feel more formal and intimidating than a conversation with a supervisor. 
  • Let employees speak first. Stay interviews are not the time to share performance information or feedback with employees. This is the opportunity for employees to provide their feedback—so do your best to let them speak and refrain from commenting too much. However, if there are areas where employees express questions or concerns that can be immediately addressed, this is a good opportunity to talk through those at the end of the discussion.

3 Stay Interview Questions You MUST Ask

There are countless questions you could ask your employees in a stay interview. Some questions will depend on your type of business and current situation. But if you don’t have time to put together a robust list of questions, here are the three you MUST ask: 

  1. What do you like most about working here?
  2. What do you like least about working here?
  3. What would make you leave? 

These three questions, at a minimum, will capture the information you need to make changes in your organization. As you interview multiple people, these questions will shine a light on what your organization is doing well, not doing well, and what you might be missing. 

Last, be sure you take action based on your stay interviews. Even better, follow up with employees about what you’re doing and how their feedback helped. You might be surprised at how far this can go with employees. 

In a time of record turnover, organizations can use stay interviews to combat employees quitting. But there are a variety of strategies to retain talent—to learn more, download our guide below. 

Download Our Guide: How to Retain Your Employees

Learn the top 4 reasons employees leave and multiple ways to address them.

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