Why Are Stay Interviews Essential For Your Organization

by Srikant Chellappa Apr 5,2020

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Employee retention has been a significant topic of discussion for a very long time. How can we reduce turnover? How can we keep employees from leaving the company? How do we get to know if an employee is planning to quit?

There is an easy way to find answers to all of these questions. It’s Stay Interviews. 

What are Stay Interviews? 

Stay interviews are largely informal discussions between the manager and their employees. These one-on-ones are conducted in order 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. If this approach is well utilised, it leads to enhanced level of employee engagement. 

How is it different from other HR surveys?

Be it an exit interview or any other surveys conducted by the HR Executives of an organisation, they are different from stay interviews. This can be better understood with the help of an example. 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 do best 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. 

Also read: How To Manage Global Teams Remotely

Essential features of Stay Interviews: 

  • Enhances trust:

Every employee wants to work in an environment where their opinions and comfort matter, and their needs and feelings are taken care of. Through a stay interview, you can gauge the level of employee satisfaction and engagement. When you do that, you get to understand how the organisation can provide the right kind of environment for the employee to thrive and in turn, gain their trust. 

  • Cascades down: 

The first stay interview is essentially conducted by the top executive of the company for her or his direct reports. It cascades down from there, to different teams and departments. Except for the top leader, all others experience a stay interview as an employee. So, the top management serve as great examples for the subordinates. 

  • Conducted one-on-one:

Ideally, stay interviews take place between a manger and their subordinate, and preferably face-to-face. If you are dealing with remote employees, it’s advisable to schedule these interviews months in advance, so that they can fly down to attend the interview. 

  • Managers need to go through training:

If you wish to conduct successful stay interviews, all managers and leaders in your organisation must go through an induction period wherein they are briefed on what to ask, what not to ask and how to tackle certain questions from the employees (example being, an increase in salary). 

  • Not a performance discussion:

Stay interviews are separate from performance discussions. The interviews are meant specifically to improve employee engagement and reduce employee turnover. Therefore, they should not be tagged with performance appraisals. 

Now that you are clear about what stay interviews essentially are, let’s get to know how you can initiate them in your organisation. 

Also Read: Drive Employee Engagement with Engagedly

Conducting stay interviews:

Step 1: Gauge your work environment:

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. 

Step 2: Commit to making changes:

There is no use of conducting stay interviews, if you are not going to 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. 

What happens after the stay interviews are conducted:

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.

Also read: Know How To Conduct One-On-One Meetings Effectively

Plausible stay interview 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?

Stay interviews can essentially build up a very positive and cooperative environment throughout the organisation, given that this approach is initiated and followed through with care. If you are planning on initiating it in your company or have done so in the recent past, we would love to know about your experience.

Get in touch with us to know more about the free remote working tool-kit. 

Get In Touch With Us

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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