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Why Your Business Should Conduct Stay Interviews

February 12, 2019
| ByJulia Pinzler

It’s a “job seekers’ market” right now. Companies, therefore, need to increase their efforts to attract and retain top talent. Specifically, if your company is having problems with employee turnover, stay interviews may be the answer.

What Is a Stay Interview?

A “stay” interview is like an exit interview. However, the goal of the interview is to make the employee stay at the company, thus preventing any exit interviews from being conducted.

Stay interviews can provide valuable insights to employers about the needs of their workforce. By conducting a stay interview, managers are able to influence employees to stay with the company, or in many cases identity potential risk factors affecting their continued employment.

In a stay interview, a manager queries the employee about their perspective on the workplace. Ideally, the employee would be able to share what they like – and do not like – about their current position, without fear of retaliation. Managers are also able to explore through the different motivators of their employees so they can work around those, and eventually, keep them.

3 Benefits of Conducting Stay Interviews
1. Decrease the Expense of Turnover

Stay interviews can help avoid the expense and hassle of turnover. With so many Baby Boomers retiring, retaining existing employees is key to maintaining an effective and experienced team.

Estimates of employee turnover costs range from 50 percent to 200 percent of the employee’s annual salary, depending on the type of job.

Businesses can calculate their turnover costs by evaluating:

  • Impact of work gaps due to the unfilled role
  • Cost of marketing the position
  • Time spent interviewing candidates
  • Onboarding and training costs
  • Costs of learning and development

By retaining existing staff, employers can avoid having to pay these unnecessary expenses.

2. Learn More About the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Business

Stay interviews provide managers with an opportunity to have a structured conversation with their teams about what is and is not currently working in the business. Additionally, these insights can be forward-thinking, since employees may not merely reflect on bad past experiences, but provide positive suggestions for the future. Managers can leverage this information to implement necessary changes within the workplace.

3. Show Employees That Their Opinion Matters

Employees like to see that managers are actively seeking the opinion of employees and making changes based on their feedback. Additionally, they can implement new and more effective policies, as well as encourage open communication between employees and management. Employees who feel heard and valued are much more likely to be loyal to a company.

Stay interviews are preferable to exit interviews for obvious reasons. By the time an exit interview is conducted, the employee has already decided to leave the company. By gaining valuable insight into employees’ perspectives during the interview, employers can implement changes to retain their existing staff.

How to Approach Stay Interviews

Ideally, the employee’s direct manager conducts the interview. Don’t wait until an employee’s foot is halfway out the door before scheduling a stay interview. Hence, plan on offering an interview on a regular basis.

Create a Culture of Openness

If managers or executive leadership are prone to reacting defensively, or are unwilling to make changes in response to employee feedback, stay interviews won’t work. An employee needs to feel safe and heard in order to open up in a stay interview. Essentially, work on creating a culture of trust and openness first before implementing one.

Make It Conversational

When leading a stay interview, the manager should treat it more as a conversation than an interrogation. First, discuss the purpose of the interview and the kind of feedback the company expects. Ask open-ended questions and start with the easier ones to ease the employee into the process. The interview usually lasts an hour or less.

Implementing Changes After the Stay Interview

After the stay interview, it is absolutely critical that the feedback provided by employees is genuinely considered, acknowledged, and when appropriate, acted upon. Otherwise, employees might become cynical and see the stay interview as nothing but a meaningless process that does not lead to real change.

Immediate implementation is key. Not only will visible changes make employees feel valued, but underlying business problems also get resolved.

Keep Valuable Employees with Stay Interviews

One of the best ways to positively engage and retain employees is through stay interviews. Once the interview is complete, smart managers will continue the momentum of open communication by actively participating in the company’s social recognition program to keep employees motivated and happy. 

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