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Refreshing Insights

We’ve all heard of exit interviews, where a company representative sits down with an employee after he or she submits a resignation. These meetings are especially difficult when the employee was a key player in your organization or if the announcement came out of the blue.

Wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t need to have such a conversation in the first place? Instead, why not conduct stay interviews?

When used strategically, a stay interview can uncover potential reasons why employees might consider leaving your company before they start exploring their options and, just as importantly, insights into what it will take to make them stay.

What is a Stay Interview?

Unlike annual or quarterly reviews where employees are evaluated on their performance, the tables are turned in a stay interview; it’s the employee who provides feedback on the company and its working environment.

Best Practices for Conducting Stay Interviews

Creating meaningful and transparent dialogue is the best way to uncover any issues that may need to be addressed, so try to create a comfortable, inviting and informal atmosphere. The key for those conducting the sessions is to ask specific questions and invite feedback. It can be tempting to try to explain or defend corporate positions or to address any potential problems during the meeting. If you’re leading the conversation, however, fight the urge to “fix” things and, instead, simply listen and learn.

Once the stay interview is completed, you’ll have an opportunity to assess the employee’s comments and align them with feedback from others to see if there are consistent themes. From there, you’ll be able to more strategically determine next steps.

Some sample questions you may want to ask during a stay interview include: 

  • What do you most look forward to at work each day?
  • What’s the most frustrating or least favorite part of your work day that you’d like to see change?
  • If you were given the power to change it, how would you do it?
  • Why do you continue to work here?
  • Do you have a dream job within our organization? If so, what is it?
  • What are some of your talents that you feel aren’t being used?
  • How do you like to be recognized for a job well done?
  • What motivates (and demotivates) you?
  • Have you ever thought about leaving? If so, why?
  • Why did you decide to stay?
  • What would you miss the most if you left?
  • What can I do more of as a manager to support you?
  • What can the company as a whole do more of to help you thrive and feel more satisfied?

Should a Third Party Conduct Stay Interviews?

A stay interview can be conducted either internally with a manager or externally with the help of an outside party such as an HR services firm. Not all managers are suited to conduct stay interviews and there are advantages to having an outside party involved, especially if there are existing tensions internally. Some questions are very personal, and employees may not feel comfortable providing thorough and honest answers for fear of retaliation or punishment, or may simply be concerned over causing strain in a relationship.

An advantage of having a third party conduct stay interviews is their ability to provide an objective, unbiased, outside assessment. Additionally, they won’t be influenced by an employee’s perceived reputation or by relational conflicts, helping to remove any impression that the person conducting the interview has an ulterior motive or is being unfair.

A third party can identify employees or groups of employees who are at higher risk of turnover. They’ll conduct multiple interviews to gather data and, when desired, can also take measures to ensure the anonymity of employees who provide feedback. These professionals are skilled at conducting these types of assessments and will provide an objective analysis of the findings along with recommendations for developing a strong retention strategy.

What About Exit Interviews?

There will inevitably be days when you have to accept the resignation of a valued employee. It’s critical to fully understand the circumstances and underlying reasons why someone leaves. Is it pay and benefits? Lack of work/life balance? An inability to grow with the company? Or is it something deeper like a toxic culture, stress or lack of leadership? Similarly to stay interviews, leveraging the objective approach of a third-party service to conduct exit interviews can help you identify where improvements need to be made.

Retention is still the best way to continue growing your business and to address the skilled labor shortage, so don’t wait until the exit interview. Start improving your workplace, its culture, internal processes and more by conducting stay interviews.

Need help developing your retention strategy? Contact McClone to talk through additional creative ways to create an engaging and loyal workforce, and check out our helpful HR Best Practices checklist below.

HR Best Practice Checklist

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A collection of articles from the McClone team with the helpful knowledge and insights to ensure your organization is well protected.