WHAT IS A “STAY” INTERVIEW
Stay interviews are conducted to help business owners and managers understand why employees stay and what might cause them to leave. The concept of a stay interview might be foreign to you, but it is truly a powerful practice for your business!
One of the top reasons for incorporating this procedure is that it can help to reduce turnover. Data suggests that the reason employees quit is that they do not trust their managers. Stay interviews are the best trust-building activity as they create a dialogue between managers and employees. The cost of replacing a highly trained employee can be nearly double their annual salary. Stay interviews can help you keep great employees! In addition, they help you to gauge employee satisfaction. When employees feel that they are heard, they are more often satisfied with their job and much more engaged in the company. Utilizing stay interviews helps you to determine if the employee is satisfied in their job or not.
Another great benefit of stay interviews is that you can find out if you are wasting time on procedures that do not work for your employees. Maybe you have other processes or procedures that your employees could be more engaged in. Find out where people stand, make changes, and increase everyone's productivity. Stay interviews can also help set realistic expectations. The employee can communicate what they feel is a realistic change or benefit they would like to receive from the employer. You can also communicate what the company can reasonably do, and build and maintain dialogue. Use this as an opportunity to create and maintain an open line of communication with your employees.
You may be wondering how often to conduct stay interviews. If you have a new employee starting, you want to conduct a stay interview in the first three to six months. By this time, the new hire would have wrapped up their training, making it a good time to check-in and get a feel for how they are doing. You can move stay interviews to an annual basis after that. In addition to on an annual basis, if you have a major change in your company, such as changing ownership, management, or are restructuring, that is also a good time to conduct stay interviews with your employees.
When conducting the stay interview, be transparent about its purpose. Communicate why you are conducting the interview and also what you can and cannot reasonably accommodate. Another thing to keep in mind is that stay interviews are different from performance reviews. Be sure to put the mind of your employee at ease by assuring them that the information they provide is meant to improve the company and would not be linked to their performance evaluation in any way.
Approach the interview prepared that not everything the employee says will be positive. There might be some constructive criticism that can help in making worthwhile changes in your company. Remember that the goal of the stay interview is to open dialogue with your employee to obtain honest feedback. After the stay interview is complete, the process does not stop there. Remember to give the employee timelines and follow-through. Set a date and stick with it to follow up and address any concerns that are shared. For instance, if the employee expresses that they are unhappy with their compensation, notify them that you will discuss this with the management team and follow up with them in a week's timeframe.
There are some things to avoid when conducting stay interviews. Be sure not to ask close-ended questions with yes or no responses. You want to ask questions that will engage your employees. Also, remember to keep the information private and not share confidential information. Leave any defensiveness at the door do not react poorly to honest answers. Sometimes honest answers are difficult to hear, but take the time to appreciate that the employee was willing to share them with you and follow up to address any concerns. Try not to send questions in advance. You want the answers to be honest and unscripted.
Finally, here are some examples of stay interview questions. First, “What work are you doing here that you feel is most in-line with your long-term goals?” This question helps to determine if the employee feels like they are on the right path. If you have an employee who struggles to answer this question, perhaps they view this job as just a short-term job rather than a long-term career with your company. Another question is, “What do you need from the company to set you up to be successful?” This question allows the employee the opportunity to speak up on what the company could change and what support they could give to the employee. You can also ask, “Are there additional training opportunities that you would like to explore that would help you in your job?” “Is there anything that the leadership team could be doing differently?” “Do you feel challenged?” “Are you learning new things?” These questions help gauge if the employee is bored in their work or is excited about the challenges they are facing.
You can also ask “What area of the company would you like to learn more about?” This is an important question, especially for an entry-level role, as you can plan on having the employee job shadow for another position. Now that would not be a guarantee that the employee will be able to be immediately transferred into another position, but it is important to address their curiosity and see if they could be a fit elsewhere.
The question “When was the last time you thought about leaving us and what prompted it?” helps to address any second thoughts the employee has about staying employed with your company. Was it a bad day? Was it a toxic environment that led them to start applying for jobs, maybe an unhappy experience with their direct manager? It is important to address any concerns.
We hope that these practical questions help and that you will begin incorporating stay interviews in your company!