What is a stay interview, & why do you need one?

What is a stay interviewWhen you’re spending up to 200% of an employee’s salary just to find the right person for your organization, retaining the new hire you just invested in is crucial. Beyond onboarding and training in the first weeks of employment, many business owners and managers aren’t doing enough to make sure their employees are satisfied with and growing in their positions. As a result, unhappy employees—and the money spent to hire and train them—walk out the door.

What savvy business owners know is there are many ways to keep employees happy and defuse problems before they lead to an employee quitting. One of the best methods for this is called a “stay interview.”

What is a stay interview?

According to TLNT:

“A stay interview is a periodic one-on-one structured retention interview between a manager and a highly valued ‘at-risk-of-leaving employee’ that identifies and then reinforces the factors that drive an employee to stay. It also identifies and minimizes any ‘triggers’ that might cause them to consider quitting.”

When should you do stay interviews?

In addition to having stay interviews when you sense trouble, you might be wise to integrate them into your quarterly, six-month, or annual reviews. That way, you can check the pulse of your team—ideally before a problem occurs.

Who should you interview?

I like this advice from Beverly Kaye in this HRE Online article: “My own philosophy is that a stay interview should be done for any person who, if they came to you and said ‘I’m out of here,’ you’d lose sleep over. Not just your high flyers, but your massive middle as well.”

Questions To Ask During A Stay Interview

Ask open-ended, focused questions, and try to identify all issues—even the seemingly small but potentially divisive ones—that can help you eliminate “flight risks.”

SHRM suggests these stay interview questions as a starting point:

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
  • What do you like most or least about working here?
  • What keeps you working here?
  • If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
  • What would make your job more satisfying?
  • How do you like to be recognized?
  • What talents are not being used in your current role?
  • What would you like to learn here?
  • What motivates (or demotivates) you?
  • What can I do to best support you?
  • What can I do more of or less of as your manager?
  • What might tempt you to leave?

Additionally, the University of California’s 10 Stay Interview Questions You Can Use Now has several insightful questions supervisors should consider asking along with reasons to ask the questions.

Finally, Follow Up

It’s not enough to have a stay interview—you have to do something with what you’ve learned if you’re serious about retaining your employees. By problem-solving and putting a plan into action with the employee, you can help make sure your best talent remains on board with your organization.

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