The Stay Interview: All You Need to Know

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In 2021, the Great Resignation wreaked havoc and caused millions of employees to leave. In fact, in October 2021, a record number of 4.2 million  Americans quit.

With all of these employees quitting, more companies are trying to figure out how to get their employees to stay. One way to do that is to conduct a “stay interview.” 

But what is a stay interview, and how do you do it? Keep reading to figure out all you need to know to try and retain employees. 

What Is a Stay Interview?

A stay interview is a conversation between a manager or HR with current employees, and it’s different from the standard annual review. 

This interview aims to try and assess their satisfaction with their job and see why they’re staying with your company. However, it can also be a way to figure out that your employee might be getting ready to leave your company, and you can find out what they need to try and retain them. 

You can ask your employees several questions to figure out what makes your company a great place to work and what you need to improve to boost your retention rates. 

What Are the Benefits of Stay Interviews?

There are many benefits to doing this kind of interview, but first and foremost, it shows your employees that you care about making sure they’re happy. It also shows that you are willing to hear them out and do what you can to keep their employees, so you don’t have to hold exit interviews instead.

These interviews also foster trust between employees, and they may feel like they can give you feedback on how to improve. Doing this will also enhance the communication between employers and employees. 

It can also increase the communication between the two, which can help improve employee satisfaction. The jobs data gathered could help you make fundamental positive changes at the workplace. 

Taking time to conduct stay interviews can also be a great place to assess what affects your employee turnover rates. When you find a pattern, you can try implementing changes to fix that. 

When hiring new employees costs around $4,425, taking a half-hour for each employee is a lower cost than hiring a new employee to fill a vacant position.

They may not always be the key to retaining employees, but even if you can keep one or two and avoid an exit interview, these are immense costs and time that you’ll have saved. It will also increase your positive employer branding, attracting more top talent to your company. 

Interview Questions

If you want to enjoy the benefits of these types of interviews, you’ll need to know how to conduct the interview. It would help if you went into it with a structure and a plan to maximize your time.

While there are some stay interview questions that you should ask the employees, you should spend most of your time in the interview listening to your employee rather than talking.

What Do You Want to Learn Here?

You should also ask them if they’ve learned anything during their current position at the company. 

The interview gives employees a chance to tell you their career goals and how they want to develop their careers. Some of the employees are very ambitious and want to learn more. Some employees want to do their work and then go home. 

If many employees say that they don’t feel like they have much support for their career or the chance to learn new skills, you might want to start offering tuition assistance, on-the-job training, or different meetings to teach employees new skills. 

To get answers to this question, you might also want to ask something like, “What skills do you think you need for your future dream job?” Another good option would be, “What skills do you feel like you need to do your job better?”

What Can I Do to Make Your Job Better?

This question is another of the popular interview questions, but you could also ask:

  • Do you feel like you get feedback from your managers?
  • Do you feel like you’re part of a team that wants to help you do a good job?
  • What are ways that your manager can be better for you?
  • Are you unhappy with anything else that I can change?
  • Do you feel like you have a healthy work-life balance?
  • How can we improve employee morale?

These interview questions open up the door for all kinds of topics, and you might get a variety of different answers. 

Remember that it might be your first instinct to be defensive when you hear the answers, but keep in mind that you need to accept the valuable employee feedback. If you can’t take the input, the stay interview won’t help you get very far. 

Once you have the answers to these questions, make sure that you listen and then try and incorporate their feedback to improve the pain points.

What Do You Like About Working Here?

The question might seem straightforward, but you can gain a lot of insight based on the answers you get. 

Most employees have probably never thought about this until you ask them about it. You can even reassure the employee and let them have time to think about it and show that you’re sincere in wanting to know. 

Employees will then tell you what is important to them and what they value in their jobs.

The answers will let you know what you’re doing right to ensure that you don’t change it. For example, if employees say that they like working remotely, you shouldn’t try to bring them back to the office because this will likely cause many employees to become job seekers.

Have You Ever Thought About Looking for a New Job?

This might be an awkward question to ask, but if the employee is willing to answer, you might be able to focus on retention and recruiting strategies

Almost every employee considers different opportunities at times, and asking this direct question can help bring this topic up and create an environment to talk about it.

If you ask this question to many employees, and they all say that they recently thought about leaving or looking for a new position, this can tell you that people are trying to get out of your company quickly. 

You may want to ask follow-up questions to figure out why. You could ask something like: 

  • How important is that issue to you now on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • Tell me more about what prompted you to look for a new job.
  • What’s the best thing we could do to ensure you don’t want to look for a new job?

Work on a Stay Plan

Now that you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have to develop a plan to boost your retention rates. This is when the “stay plan” comes in. This plan will focus on short-term actions and decisions to keep many employees from leaving. 

You should create a list of urgent items based on the answers you received during the stay interview. It would be best to carry out those changes within a month of finishing all the interviews. This will hold employers accountable, but it will also foster trust between the employee and the employee’s direct manager. 

This accountability and action make the “stay interview” different from a regular chat. Employees will see that you are serious about keeping them, and they will feel like they were heard and have a voice. Employees will also feel more engaged in the company.

To have a successful plan, you’ll need to make sure that there is an objective for each task that you want to get done. This will keep you on track and help you avoid distractions. You may even want to make a list of actions each manager needs to take. 

You should also list any actions that an employee will take. Put dates for each initiative to be completed. Put this in a formal plan, and make sure you send copies to managers and employees. This ensures that you build your company culture on transparency and communication, which your employees value. 

Focus on Employee Retention and Attraction

Your employee retention rate is important, but it’s not always possible to keep every employee even if you have a great stay interview program. You will have some turnover and churn, especially as the job hopper economy grows. 

With the impact of the job hopper economy, many more employers will experience higher churn than usual, and some companies might discover that they can’t keep up with it. 

If you don’t have the resources to keep up with hiring, can help! We have advanced software tools to help you source top talent and recruiters that you can hire on an as-needed basis. 

Contact us today  to learn more!


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By Alyssa Harmon