Your essential guide to stay interviews: what they are and how to implement them

Employee retention is now a critical focus for organisations. One effective strategy gaining traction is the stay interview. Unlike exit interviews, which seek to understand why employees are leaving, stay interviews aim to uncover why employees choose to stay, offering valuable insights that can help improve employee satisfaction, engagement and retention. In this post we explain what stay interviews are and provide some advice for how to implement them effectively including how online stay surveys can enhance the process.

What are stay interviews?

Stay interviews are structured one-on-one conversations between a manager and an employee. Their primary purpose is to identify what keeps employees motivated, what they enjoy about their roles, and what could be improved to enhance their job satisfaction. These interviews are proactive, aiming to address issues before they lead to resignations, making them a valuable tool in an organisation’s retention strategy.

How are stay interviews used?

Stay interviews typically involve a set of open-ended questions designed to elicit honest and comprehensive feedback. Some common questions include:

  • What do you enjoy most about your job?
  • What aspects of your role or the company do you find frustrating?
  • What motivates you to come to work every day?
  • How do you feel about your career progression within the organisation?
  • What changes could we make to improve your work experience?

The information gathered from these interviews is then analysed to identify patterns and areas for improvement. Managers can use this data to make informed decisions about changes in policies, workplace environment, and management practices, ultimately aiming to create a more engaging and satisfying work experience.

What are the advantages of stay interviews?

Proactive problem solving:

Stay interviews allow organisations to address issues before they escalate to a point where employees decide to leave. This proactive approach can significantly enhance employee retention.

Improved communication:

Stay interviews foster open communication between employees and management. They provide a platform for employees to express their concerns and for managers to show that they value their team’s input.

Employee engagement:

Conducting stay interviews demonstrates that the organisation is committed to employee well-being and satisfaction. This can boost morale and engagement, as employees feel heard and valued.

Tailored retention strategies:

The insights gained from stay interviews enable organisations to develop targeted strategies to retain key talent. Understanding individual needs and motivations helps in creating personalised retention plans.

Culture improvement:

Regular feedback through stay interviews can help shape a positive organisational culture, addressing systemic issues and fostering a more supportive work environment.

What are the disadvantages of stay interviews?

Stay interviews are resource Intensive:

Conducting stay interviews requires time and effort from both managers and employees. This can be a challenge, especially in larger organisations where the number of employees is substantial.

Stay interviews can be misused:

If not conducted sincerely, stay interviews can be perceived as a tick-box exercise, leading to distrust among employees. It is crucial that management acts on the feedback received, or it may backfire.

Stay interviews can cause anxiety:

Some employees might feel anxious or uncomfortable during stay interviews, fearing negative repercussions for being candid. This can lead to less honest feedback, undermining the purpose of the interview.

Stay interviews can lack consistency:

Ensuring that stay interviews are conducted consistently and fairly across the organisation can be challenging. Different managers might have varying approaches, leading to inconsistencies in the feedback process.

Implementing stay interviews: key considerations

For organisations looking to implement stay interviews, several factors need to be considered to ensure their effectiveness:

Train managers:

Managers should be trained on how to conduct stay interviews effectively. This includes learning to ask the right questions, actively listening, and responding constructively to feedback.

Create a safe environment:

It is essential to create a safe and trusting environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their honest opinions without fear of retaliation.

Regular scheduling:

Stay interviews should be conducted regularly, not just when there is a concern about potential turnover. This helps in maintaining a continuous dialogue and keeps issues from festering.

Actionable follow-up:

The feedback from stay interviews should lead to actionable changes. Organisations must be committed to acting on the insights gained, otherwise, the process can lose credibility.

Ensure anonymity:

To encourage more honest feedback, consider offering anonymous stay interview options. This can help in gathering more genuine insights, especially in sensitive areas.

Integrate stay interviews with other feedback mechanisms:

Stay interviews should complement other feedback mechanisms like employee surveys and performance reviews. This integrated approach provides a comprehensive view of employee satisfaction and organisational health.

Best practices for stay interviews

Use talent assessments:

Use tools like personality and culture assessments to prepare tailored questions for each employee, helping managers understand individual motivations and needs.

Private and comfortable settings:

Conduct interviews in private, comfortable locations to ensure employees feel safe and relaxed while sharing their thoughts.

Communicate a clear purpose:

Clearly communicate the purpose of stay interviews to employees, emphasizing that they are for understanding and improving their work experience, not for performance evaluation.

Make them regular and scheduled:

Conduct stay interviews regularly and at appropriate times to ensure ongoing feedback and timely addressing of issues.

Focus on listening:

Managers should focus on listening rather than talking, making the interviews about understanding the employees’ perspectives.

Selective implementation:

Initially focus on high-performing employees whose feedback can help improve the overall workplace environment.

Proactive response to feedback:

Act on the feedback promptly and communicate any changes or reasons for not implementing certain suggestions to maintain trust and credibility.

Psychological safety:

Build a culture of psychological safety where employees feel free to share their honest opinions without fear of retribution.

Using online stay surveys instead of face to face stay interviews

In addition to face-to-face interviews, organisations can use surveys to gather feedback from employees. Stay Surveys are a more cost-effective and efficient alternative to stay interviews. Stay Surveys offer several big advantages over face to face stay interviews:

Stay surveys are more efficient:

Surveys can be distributed to a large number of employees simultaneously, saving time and resources compared to conducting individual interviews.

Stay surveys are more anonymous:

Surveys can be designed to be anonymous, which can encourage more honest and candid feedback from employees who might feel uncomfortable speaking directly to their managers.

Stay surveys ensure standardisation:

Surveys provide a standardised set of questions, ensuring consistency in the feedback received and making it easier to analyse and compare data across the organisation.

Stay surveys are more scalable:

Surveys are easily scalable, making them suitable for organisations of all sizes, from small businesses to large corporations.

Stay surveys are more convenient:

Employees can complete surveys at their convenience, which can lead to higher response rates and more thoughtful responses.

Stay surveys enable better data analysis:

Surveys often come with tools that facilitate easy data analysis, allowing organisations to quickly identify trends and areas for improvement.

In conclusion

Stay interviews, whether conducted face-to-face or through surveys, are a powerful tool in an organisation’s employee retention arsenal. By understanding what motivates employees to stay and addressing their concerns proactively, organisations can create a more engaged and satisfied workforce. However, the success of stay interviews depends on their sincere implementation and the organisation’s commitment to acting on the feedback received. When done right, stay interviews can transform the workplace, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and mutual respect.