Stay Interviews: A Tool To Retain Your Best Employees

by Srikant Chellappa Aug 13,2021

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Before we go into the details of stay interviews, let us consider a simple scenario. Rob, your Chief Technical Architect, informed you today that he has decided to quit and move to a different organization. He was the head of the technical team and was there since the inception. Can you hire someone in his place? Yes, you can. But will the new hire be able to deliver at the same level? How quickly can she or he learn? Highly subjective in nature, this will depend upon the individual’s capacity. But the real question is, could Rob have been retained? Yes! Stay interviews could have helped you do that.  

Also Read: Workplace Culture:How To Create and Sustain It

Employee retention has been a topic of discussion for those in HR and people service for a very long time, even before the pandemic hit. After the pandemic and the work from home policies, the topic of employee retention has gained even more relevancy. Stay interviews can help you improve retention and reduce turnover and attrition rate.

Stay interviews are informal one-on-ones between the manager and their employees. They help employers to understand how employees feel about the company and their managers, and most importantly, how long do they intend to stay and work with them. They are crucial to retain your best employees.

Stay Interviews v/s Exit Interviews v/s Employee Surveys

Be it an exit interview or any other surveys conducted by the HR Executives of an organisation, they are different from stay interviews. When an exit interview is conducted, the employee is already leaving, and it’s too late to recognise and solve any problems. What you can well is identify the issues and make it better for the next person.

You might say that an employee satisfaction survey might do the trick. But no. It neither involves any two-way conversation, nor is there any chance of probing into a matter or having a follow-up session. 

Stay interviews, on the other hand, are conducted while the valued employees are still working in the company. So, there remains a chance to identify how the organisation can improve and retain its workers. 

Here are some tips that will make your stay interviews fruitful.

Understand Your Workplace

If you wish to conduct stay interviews, you need to first understand how feasible it is in the current scenario. If your company is not very supportive of open discussions and lacks the sense of trust towards the employees, conducting stay interviews can be a waste, or worse, can lead to adverse situations. It is important to conduct trust building activities first. On the other hand, if your organisation thrives on trust and open communication, stay interviews can really help in enhancing retention and employee engagement. 

Be Ready To Transform And Change

There is no use in conducting stay interviews if you will not do anything about it afterward. Once you have conducted the interviews, whenever you bring about the changes, let the employees know about it. It will further instil trust among the employees that the company takes their words seriously. 

Also Read: Dump Your Disconnected Reskilling Strategy

Don’t Make It Too Formal

It is advisable to schedule the stay interviews well in advance, keeping all the parties informed. But that does not mean they are formal like the exit interview or the performance reviews. Its best if the conversations are spontaneous. The main idea is to make your employees feel comfortable enough to open up, so that they can speak what’s in their mind. So, it’s important to build a sense of trust before the interview and through it.

Make A List Of Questions

Forming the right questions is very important for stay interviews to have the right effect. Ask very clear, probing questions which fetch valuable answers without putting the employees in an uncomfortable spot. That’s where you need to be very tactful. Not all employees are comfortable opening up so easily. So, as their manager, you need to understand when you should not push any further and try approaching the topic from a different angle. Here’s a probable list of questions:

    1. What excites you about your job on a daily basis?
    2. Which aspect about the job makes you want to not come to work?
    3. What drives your passion?
    4. What’s your dream job?
    5. If you had a change of role, what would you miss about the current role?
    6. If you won the lottery and didn’t have to work, what would you miss?
    7. What did you love in your last position that you’re not doing now?
    8. Describe your perfect day at work.
    9. If you had a chance, what are the things you would change about your work, role and responsibilities?
    10. What do you think about on your way to work?
    11. What’s bothering you most about your job?
Also Read: What Type Of Questions Should Your Performance Reviews Contain?

Document The Complete Process

A lot of insights are revealed through these stay interviews. Make sure you document all the important information, so that you can collate all the data later on for further discussions with the HR and your superiors.

Post The Stay Interviews

Once the interviews are over, the managers should be given an opportunity to discuss the data they have collated, so that they can discover patterns across the organisation. That way you can narrow down on what changes are required at an organisational level as well as what’s required to change at department levels.

Try not to get defensive with the answers you receive. Stay interviews might be able to help your organisation get precious insights into what keeps employees engaged and what drives them to quit.

Do you want to know how Engagedly can help you with employee engagement? Then request for a live demo.

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Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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