What is a stay interview? “A stay interview is a structured discussion a leader conducts with an individual employee to learn specific actions the leader can take strengthen the employee’s engagement and retention with the organization.”[i] What is the value of the stay interview? The organization hears directly from the employee in a one-on-one discussion (not related to performance), with any issues, concerns and opportunities leadership improvement. This provides us as leaders the opportunity to engage, communicate and retain the workforce. The stay interviews should be conducted by the leader of the organization, with HR’s support. I have used effectively used stay interviews.
Below are the thoughts on implementing stay interviews:
- Start at the Top: The leader at the top of the organization should set the tone for the organization and conduct stay interviews with their direct reports. The process should cascade down throughout the rest of the organization to front-line supervisors and employees. Employees at every level should take part in a stay interview, to ensure an effective and successful process.
- In Person: Stay interviews should not be conducted over the phone or via a video conferencing system, if possible. Remote workers should have the opportunity to sit one-on-one with their supervisor and have a discussion.
- Expectations of the Stay Interview: Ensure the employee understands the reason for the stay interview and how these interviews will focus on area’s that the manager can influence. Not all of us can change company policy, mission statements and strategic goals. However, if a trend in these interviews is consistent, we might have more say in strategic objectives.
- Schedule Time: “Most stay interviews take 20 minutes or less to conduct, but some will carry on longer. Leaders should consider telling employees to allow 20 minutes for their meeting, but even then, leaders should allow thirty minutes on their calendars.”[ii] Treat the employee as you want to be treated during the stay interview.
- Leave Performance Out of It: There is a time and place to discuss performance expectations. Stay interviews should remain focused on engagement, retention feedback, communication and concerns. Scripted open ended questions are necessary.
- No Advanced Questions: This can limit the conversation to a list of memorized demands and responses. Open ended discussion with note taking, listening and probing for additional information will add tremendous value to the stay interview.
- Opening Script: The pre-drafted script is a great way to open the meeting. This will provide additional information to the employee on what the process will look like and the direction of the interview. The messages will be consistent throughout the organization.
The Why of Stay Interviews:
- “Employees hear directly from their supervisor that they care and want them to stay and grow with the company.
- Supervisors further accept retention and engagement within their sphere of responsibility.
- Employees are more likely to accept responsibility for staying.
- Stay interviews build trust.”[iii]
Stay Interview Draft Template:
To open the stay interview, a manager may use the following (or similar) statements:
- I would like to talk with you about the reasons you stay with ____, so I understand what I might be able to do to make this a great place to work.
- I’d like to have an informal talk with you to find out how the job is going, how the job will change, so I can do my best to support you as your manager, particularly with issues within my control.
- I will be taking notes throughout our discussion and might ask you to repeat yourself if I do not capture everything.
- Do you have any questions before we get started?
Review Job Description and Changing Expectations
- These are the current changes to the job description
- These will be the changes to the position and current expectations/accountabilities
- Discuss the reporting structure
- Communication expectations
- System reporting expectations
- Do you have any questions or concerns?
The following are questions you may ask during a stay interview. You should have several open-ended questions on hand. It’s important to listen and gather ideas from the employee about how you and your organization can retain him or her.
- Tell me specifically, what factors cause you to enjoy your current job and work situation (including people, job, rewards, job content, coworkers, management etc.), and as a result, they contribute to your staying at our firm as long as you have?
- What gets your excited to come to work here every day?
- 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 can we be doing differently as a management team? Communication, meetings, etc.
- If you “managed yourself,” what would you do differently (in relation to managing “you”), that I, as your current manager, don’t currently do?
- What might tempt you to leave?
Below are the links for upcoming training’s both in person and online webinars:
– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant