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The Importance of Stay Interviews to Retain Talent

What is a stay interview and why should I conduct one?

When the word “interview” comes to mind, it is mostly assumed to be a critical part of the hiring process. Rarely is it associated with individuals who have already been hired by a company and are seemingly comfortably acclimated to both the industry and company culture. In today’s era of The Great Resignation and war for talent, conducting stay interviews can help retain top talent and bolster company culture. As Abe Bruerer, CEO of VIP To Go, puts it, “a stay interview allows you to avoid repeated issues, while an exit interview allows you to learn from your mistakes.”

What is a stay interview?

A stay interview is a conversation between an employee and manager with the intent of learning what keeps the employee at the company as well as aspects of the corporation that they dislike or feel needs improvements.

These differ from employee satisfaction surveys because the in-person aspect of these interviews allows specific context to be offered. These details might be key insights to changes that should be made or offer current perceptions about the company or industry that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Additionally, one-on-one interviews make an employee feel that their employer truly cares about their experience with the organization. It fosters a level of trust and goodwill between the employee and employer.

Three reasons why your company should conduct stay interviews 

1 – Identify areas needing change – Equally as important to learning what employees like about the company is learning what they dislike. The feedback received from this interview should be shared with others in the organization and used to implement change. A stay interview is essentially useless if no action is taken as a result of the insights offered. Additionally, it is a chance to learn of problems in their early stages, before they become too pertinent that they hinder company progress or are cited as the reason for an employee’s departure from the company. It is really a preemptive opportunity to change aspects of a company that do not serve to benefit employees and, subsequently, do not serve the organization’s bottom line initiative.

2 – Understand employee needs to retain talent – Use the constructive feedback that you receive to determine what your employees are seeking in their role within the company. Understanding what they need and how their overall experience can be improved or enhanced might ensure that they will not leave for or seek out an opportunity with a different organization. This kind of information is critical at a time when companies in nearly every industry are fighting the war for talent. Guessing what employees need or “buying” them in order to stay will no longer suffice. Stay interviews put a company directly in front of the source.

3 – Employee engagement – The act of “checking in” shows employees that the organization cares about their well-being and values their contributions to the team. Knowing that their feelings are important to their employer often energizes employees to continue their hard work and meet goals within their position. This can actually have a positive snowball effect, uplifting the culture across the company.

Tips for conducting a useful stay interview

1 – Share the purpose and expectations of the meeting – Make it clear to your employees why you are interested in meeting with them. Foster a comfortable and trusting environment by showing that you genuinely value and are concerned about their feedback. It’s possible that your employee will hold back from offering truthful responses if they fear getting into trouble or being judged, ultimately defeating the purpose of conducting the interview in the first place.

2 – Allot enough time to have a meaningful conversation – The content that is to be discussed in this type of meeting should not be rushed or wrapped up in ten minutes. The matters that will be discussed are personal. The employee should feel that this was truly a mutually invested conversation, not just an opportunity for a manager to ask questions and record answers.

3 – Plan questions ahead of time – The questions that you ask your employees should not be made up on the spot. If you do not ask the right questions, you might not receive useful or meaningful feedback. Open-ended questions that offer opportunities for employees to recall specific situations or give details are the best kinds of questions to ask. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management compiled a sample list of worthy questions to ask in a stay interview:

      – What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?

      – What do you like most or least about working here?

      – How would you describe our company culture to a brand-new employee?

      – What might tempt you to leave?

While some of the feedback an organization receives might be hard to digest, knowing these things will help employers strategize ways to improve the employee experience and retain existing talent. This, in turn, will help it grow and accomplish bottom-line goals for years to come.